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Capturing the Magic of a Monterey Sunset: A Modern Impressionism

Friday, May 19, 2023

Impressionism is a beautiful style of painting that captures the true essence of a moment in time. Monterey sunsets are especially breathtaking, and an impressionism sunset painting is the perfect way to capture the beauty of this photo-worthy sight. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at an original oil painting of a Monterey sunset by Erin Hanson and explore the unique way she uses the impressionism style to showcase the beauty of this natural wonder.

Reflections of Color, oil on canvas, 2023
Painting by Erin Hanson

Monterey, California, is known for its stunning coastline and breathtaking sunsets. The natural beauty of this place has inspired countless artists over the years, including famous painters like Carl Oscar Borg (1879 - 1947) and Mary DeNeale Morgan (1868 - 1948). The coastline is characterized by dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches, and turquoise waters. It's a place where the sky seems to blend seamlessly with the sea, creating a beautiful palette of color that changes with each passing minute. Whether you're standing on the beach, watching the waves crash against the shore, or looking out at the horizon from atop one of the area's scenic lookout points, there's no denying the allure of the Monterey coastline.

When we think of impressionist paintings, names like Monet and Van Gogh come to mind. Impressionism is known for its vibrant and bold use of color to capture the essence of a moment, whether it's a sun-dappled garden or a shimmering sunset over the water. And there's something particularly special about a sunset painting in the impressionist style. The way the colors blend and merge into each other, creating an ethereal and dreamlike atmosphere, is truly magical. It's as if the artist has captured not just the colors of the sunset, but the feeling of being there and experiencing it firsthand. That's what makes an impressionist sunset painting such a timeless and beloved work of art.

Classic Impressionism Sunset Paintings

One of the most popular themes in the world of art is undoubtedly the sunset. From the soft hues of pinks and purples to the brilliant oranges and yellows, sunsets have inspired artists for centuries. Amongst the many art movements that have taken on the challenge of capturing the beauty of a sunset, impressionism has been particularly successful.

Classic impressionism sunset paintings are characterized by vivid colors and short brushstrokes, creating a sense of movement and light. They often focus on the interplay between light and shadow and the way light reflects off of various surfaces, including the sometimes transparent and sometimes reflective surface of water.

Claude Monet, one of the pioneers of impressionism, painted many beautiful sunsets during his career. His famous painting, Impression, Sunrise, captures the serene beauty of the sunrise over the harbor at Le Havre, France. His use of pastel colors and loose brushstrokes creates a dreamy, hazy atmosphere that transports the viewer into the moment. Another iconic impressionist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, painted many stunning sunsets during his career. His painting, The Seine at Asnières, features a gorgeous sunset reflected on the water of the Seine River. Renoir's use of light and shadow and his soft brushwork create a serene and peaceful mood.

Vincent van Gogh's paintings also capture the beauty of the sky in a unique way. His famous painting, The Starry Night, features a brilliant night sky with the moon and stars shining brightly over a quaint village. His use of bold, vibrant colors and his distinctive brushwork create a dynamic and expressive composition that captures the energy and excitement of a sunset.

These classic impressionism sunset paintings serve as inspiration for contemporary artists, like Erin Hanson, who continues to innovate the impressionism style with her unique Open Impressionism technique.

Erin Hanson's Open Impressionism Technique

Erin Hanson is an accomplished painter known for her development of the Open Impressionism technique. This technique involves placing bright, bold strokes of color side by side to create a textured and dynamic surface. It allows her to capture the energy and movement of a scene, such as a sunset over Monterey, with a sense of spontaneity and liveliness. Hanson's use of color is also a key feature of her style. She often employs vibrant, contrasting colors to convey the vibrancy of a place. This is particularly evident in her Monterey sunset painting, which features bright oranges and pinks juxtaposed with cool blues and purples. The effect is a captivating representation of the dynamic and ever-changing nature of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

In using the Open Impressionism technique, Hanson is able to convey not just the visual qualities of a scene, but also the emotional impact it has on the viewer. Her painting of a Monterey sunset is not just a representation of a beautiful moment, but a vivid and visceral experience that transports the viewer to that place and time. Hanson's use of the Open Impressionism technique in her Monterey sunset painting showcases the coastline's beauty and energy in a striking and evocative way. The brushstrokes are loose and expressive, giving the impression that the painting is in motion, much like the sun setting over the horizon. The use of light and shadows creates depth and texture, giving the painting an almost 3D quality. Her painting is a testament to the enduring allure of the Monterey coast and the power of art to capture the magic of a moment.

Detail of Reflections of Color, oil on canvas, 2023
Painting by Erin Hanson

Erin Hanson's oil painting of a Monterey sunset captures the beauty of the coastline in a truly magical way. Her unique Open Impressionism technique, which blends impressionism and modernism, creates a breathtaking work of art that draws you in and transports you to the tranquil seaside. Looking at the painting, you can almost feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and hear the gentle crashing of the waves on the shore. The colors used by Hanson – warm oranges, yellows, and deep blues – perfectly reflect the soft light of the setting sun as it paints the sky in shades of pink and purple.

This painting is not just a piece of art; it is a window into a moment of beauty that has been preserved forever. As you gaze upon it, you can imagine yourself standing on the shore, watching the sun disappear over the horizon, taking with it all the cares and worries of the day. A place where the land meets the sea, and time seems to stand still. It is a reminder that beauty exists all around us, and all we need to do is stop and take notice.

Purchase your own impressionist memory of Monterey with Reflections of Color, available as an original oil painting, 3D Textured Replica, or canvas print.

Explore Erin Hanson's collection of sunset paintings here.

Explore Erin's collection of Monterey and Carmel paintings here.


Erin Hanson ArtistERIN HANSON has been painting in oils since she was 8 years old. As a young artist, she worked at a mural studio creating 40-foot-tall paintings on canvas, while selling art commissions on the side. After getting a degree in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley, Erin became a rock climber at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. Inspired by the colorful scenery she was climbing, she decided to paint one painting every week for the rest of her life. She has stuck to that decision ever since, becoming one of the most prolific artists in history. Erin Hanson's style is known as "Open Impressionism" and is now taught in art schools worldwide. With thousands of collectors eagerly anticipating her work and millions of followers online, Hanson has become an iconic, driving force in the rebirth of contemporary impressionism.

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