How to Paint a Saguaro Cactus Sunset

How To Paint A Cactus Silhouette Sunset

This painting was actually my very first blog post and first painting I did in years! You can tell it’s a bit “rusty”. The reason behind this post was that I wanted to test out an idea I had for a painting tutorial blog. Soon after posting this, I started doing sketches and coming up with ideas. It quickly blossomed into this very website that you are on –! Any how, I am going to keep this tutorial as it is for nostalgia. There is no video, only simple picture instructions. The painting itself is so simple! You will learn how to paint a cactus silhouette with a beautiful sunset background! A silhouette is an outline of an object that is filled in to create just its shape. Silhouettes are visually stunning because of the contrast of the black against bright vibrant colors. This tutorial is perfect for beginners!


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Turn your blank white canvas to “portrait”.


Then, with your big flat brush, paint the top of the canvas solid red. You may choose to add a little water to the paint to help it glide easily. Do not rinse the red off the brush when done.


Next take a paper towel and wipe off the excess red from the brush. Add orange to the brush and paint the next section solid orange. Your orange will look like a red-orange. Go over the area where the red and orange meet to kind of “blend” the two colors together.


Take a paper towel and wipe off the excess orange from your brush. Then paint in the yellow area.  You can go as far down as you wish. Again, try to blend the area where the orange and yellow meet. The leftover white will be the silhouette of the land.


Next, with your smaller brush, paint purple lines in the sky. These are high clouds. Paint as many or as little as you want. *Tip: if you wet the brush, the purple will blend more into the red. If you keep it dry, it will stand out. I kept my brush dry for this step.

Keep adding more horizontal strokes until you’re satisfied with how it looks.

Next, take your large flat brush and rinse off all the paint. With the brush still wet, add the dark blue. Lightly, LIGHTLY, brush the dark blue over those horizontal purple clouds to create that translucent affect. The top half inch of my sunset is solid dark blue.

Paint a “squiggle” line above the flat black to make it look like mountains.

Anywhere on your canvas, paint a black vertical line with a small/medium size brush. *Tip: using a round brush will help make the end lines of the cacti “rounded” at the top.

Then add an “arm”. Think letter “L”. Also, try to round the top.

Next, paint a backwards “L”.


Paint another arm. Paint as many arms as you’d like!

Continue to paint as many cacti as you wish. The important factor here is that each cactus looks different and each are different sizes. This will give the illusion of distance and reality in your painting.

*Note: Some areas of the black depict a glare because of my camera flash. It’s solid black in real life.


how to paint a cactus
How to Paint a Cactus

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