Bringing Sunset Color to Canvas
Sunset Paintings in Oil
Thursday, February 23, 2023
Sunsets are a perennial artistic subject due to their intense, saturated color. Every artist has tried to encapsulate the ephemeral burst of crimson, blush, apricot, and gold as it rapidly fades to a velvety violet and charcoal twilight.
The attempt to capture a brief moment of light is the task of every impressionist, and no moment is more dramatic and more fleeting than the daily rising and setting of the sun.
As you consider the challenge of capturing this transitional light, we invite you to enjoy the sunset paintings below. Each was painted in oil in Erin Hanson’s unique open impressionist style, with long brushstrokes and minimal layering. Her technique brings the dazzling color of each skyscape into clear view, striking the viewer with the sunset’s true glory.
Sunsets in Oil
Atmospheric conditions must be just right for a fiery sunset to light the sky. Hanson explores every brilliant moment during eventide, from the first glimmers of red to the final purpling into deep black that comes before moonrise. Several sunset paintings listed were created in areas known for their intense evening color - others may be new to you.
Los Angeles Sunset Painting
Los Angeles is known for many things, though perhaps not for its incredible sunsets. This painting was inspired by a drive up the 134 freeway at sunset. Los Angeles has moments of beauty like this, changing light that suddenly hits just right, creating a rainbow prism of color.
Eucalyptus Rays by Erin Hanson
San Diego Sunset Painting
Dramatic hues of sapphire and lilac dance across the sky in this wall-sized painting of Torrey Pines, San Diego. Scintillating light vibrates on the ocean's surface, pulling you toward the horizon. Each brush stroke is alive with motion and texture, coming together to form an impressionistic vision of a coastal sunset.
Diego Sky by Erin Hanson
Sunsets Viewed from California Beaches
The beach near Newport Beach is pictured here in the fiery colors of sunset. The wet sands glow with orange and pink hues, while the calm ocean waters reflect the ever-changing colors of the sky. The impressionist brush strokes capture the movement and light of the scene.
Laguna Coast by Erin Hanson
The ever-prevalent fog bank in Mendocino, which keeps the cypress trees hydrated and happy, settled back towards the ocean, allowing me to capture these trees in the last rays of sunset. The long grasses in the foreground turned burnt orange and apple red in the fading light. This open impressionist painting was created with thickly applied brush strokes laid side-by-side without layering. The texture of the painting creates an added sense of movement and dimension within the painting.
Mendocino Cypress by Erin Hanson
Bodega Bay is captured in rich, saturated colors and impasto brush strokes. The ocean waters reflect the sunset sky above, swirling with color between the waves.
Bodega Bay by Erin Hanson
Erin Hanson was hiking through Point Lobos (near Carmel, California) and saw the perfect sunset between the ancient cypress trees. The setting sun reflected rays of golden light on the ocean below while the shadows everywhere turned hues of rich purple and blue.
Sunset Cypress by Erin Hanson
Brilliant orange and yellow sunset colors burst over this coastal landscape in this sunset painting inspired by the Monterey peninsula. Thick brush strokes of impasto oil paint capture the movement and vibrant colors of the scene.
Sunset Fire by Erin Hanson
Wine Country Sunset Painting
Vibrant, expressionistic sunset hues form luscious layers of orange in this sunset painting of Paso Robles, California. The rolling hills recede into the distance, reflecting the luminous sunset colors of the sky. Each brush stroke is applied to communicate the overall motion of the landscape.
Citrus Hills by Erin Hanson
Texas Hill Country Sunset Painting
From the artist: "I can't pass up the opportunity to paint a dramatic skyscape when I have the chance! This painting was inspired by my explorations this spring through Texas Hill Country. The buttery yellow color of the sky was too tempting not to paint. I like to use loose, impressionsitic brush strokes to convey the sense of time passing yet somehow magically held still for a moment in an oil painting."
Sherbet Horizon by Erin Hanson
Yosemite National Park Sunset Painting
The beautiful natural colors of the sunset in Yosemite are captured here in loose, expressive brush strokes. The tall mountainsides of Yosemite are the first to catch the sunset rays of orange and gold. The reflections in the water dance and sparkle, brightening up the mountain shadows.
Yosemite Color by Erin Hanson
Grand Canyon Sunset Painting
This large oil painting celebrates the beauty of the Grand Canyon with impressionistic color and thick, impasto brush strokes. The pine trees in the foreground add depth to the scene, giving you the sense of standing on the very edge of the canyon and getting lost in one of the Grand Canyon's famous sunsets.
Grand Canyon in Triptych by Erin Hanson
Zion National Park Sunset Painting
During a 5-day backpack through Zion, Erin Hanson explored the less-traveled landscapes of Zion National Park. This sunset painting captures one of the dramatic skyscapes seen through the windswept pines on the plateau.
Sunfall on the Plateau by Erin Hanson
Joshua Tree National Park Sunset Painting
Experience the vivid colors of the desert in this sunset painting of Joshua Tree National Park. The sky is awash in all the colors of sunset, illuminating the granite boulders with touches of pink and rainbow sherbet. The brush strokes are loose and impressionistic, conveying an emotional picture of the desert.
Joshua Sunset by Erin Hanson
Western Deserts Sunset Paintings
This sunset painting captures the vivid colors of the California desert. The piece was inspired by hiking in Indian Canyons near Palm Springs. The cool waters of the oasis contrast with the warm colors of the sunset sparkling on the desert mountains beyond.
Palm Reflections by Erin Hanson
A brilliant desert sunset is reflected in the still waters of a lake near La Quinta, California. The artist captures the vibrant beauty of the high desert with thick, expressive brush strokes in her iconic Open Impressionism style.
Desert Reflections by Erin Hanson
Oregon Coast Sunset Paintings
Cannon Beach, Oregon, is beautiful at sunset, with bonfires lighting the soft sandy beaches in every direction. The best part is watching the pelicans dance and swirl overhead, celebrating in the last rays of daylight.
Pelican Sky by Erin Hanson
Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach is a famous destination on the Oregon coast. The silhouette of the enormous boulder stands starkly against a vibrant sunset sky. The brush strokes in this painting are loose and impressionistic, capturing the beautiful colors of the scene.
Sunset Reflections by Erin Hanson
Oregon Mountain Sunsets
Mt Hood peeks over the layers of evergreens, glowing a dusky hue of majestic purple in the fiery sunset sky. This bold painting captures all the beauty of the northwest with thick, impressionistic brush strokes.
Mt. Hood by Erin Hanson
This sunset painting captures dramatic rays of light that dance with color above the blue mountains of Oregon's Willamette Valley. The thickly applied brush strokes are laid side by side, without overlapping, in Hanson's signature Open Impressionism style.
Radiant Sunset by Erin Hanson
Montana Sunset Painting
A petite oil painting of a Montana sunset captures the vivid hues of the northwest with thick, impressionistic brush strokes. Brilliant sunset colors are reflected in a mountain lake surrounded by tall pines.
Montana Sunset by Erin Hanson
Texas Sunset Painting
Rays of multi-colored light radiate from behind the clouds in this Western impressionism sunset painting. The distant angular mountains add a sense of rhythm as they change color into the distance. The impasto brush strokes are thickly applied and add a textural dimension to the painting.
Florida Sunset Painting
A monsoon sky in Clearwater, Florida, is captured in thick, impressionistic brush strokes and lively hues of orange, pink, and blue. This sunset painting recreates the feeling of actually standing by the bay and seeing the sunset in person, in all its wide expanse of beauty.
Florida Palms by Erin Hanson
Though these sunset paintings depict different places across America, every stroke of the paintbrush shows the artist’s love for nature’s beauty. To explore more sunset paintings or to discover works of impressionism that celebrate color, discover Erin Hanson’s portfolio here.
ERIN 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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