Learn how to paint a beautiful lighthouse sunset with sun rays and a glowing ocean. This is a little bit of an advanced tutorial but there is also a design variation of how to make the lighthouse look like a silhouette instead!
In this painting, I actually used my acrylic paints like water colors. That is why the painting itself looks almost like a water color painting and not an acrylic painting. Can acrylic paints be used as water colors? Yes and no. I first did the painting on a sheet of canvas paper, which worked exactly like water color paper because the water was able to absorb in the paper a bit. Then I repeated the design on canvas.
Using acrylic paint watered down on canvas is tricky. The gesso (what the canvas is primed with) won’t absorb the paint like the paper. So you have to paint flat to avoid the dripping (unless you like that effect, it is trending right now). Also, you have to spread the watered-down-paint out thin to keep it from pooling.
My suggestion if you are doing this tutorial? Follow the steps and don’t use “as much” water to dilute the paint. Or use a sheet of water color paper instead! If you have water colors on hand, this tutorial can also be adapted to use with those.
If you love lighthouses but find this too hard, I encourage you to still try it! I will most likely be coming out with a simpler design soon so look for that sometime in 2018 .Thanks for viewing and happy painting!
- Acrylic Paint (I used Apple Barrel Craft Paint for this painting. The other brand I usually recommend is Liquitex Basics.)
- Paint colors (listed as generic names):
- Pink (Fuchsia)
- Navy Blue
- Primary Blue
- Light Blue
- Paintbrushes in multiple sizes
- 16″x 20″ canvas or smaller if you prefer. Or use a sheet of Water color paper instead if you are doing this like a water color painting!
- Water container
The above is a design alteration! I was hosting a paint night one night and decided to change it up a bit! If you feel inspired by a painting but don’t necessarily want to copy it exactly, try changing the colors and adding new objects! I took the sky in my cityscape fireworks tutorial, added a ship silhouette and made the lighthouse a silhouette as well! It is the exact same composition as the lighthouse above, only different colors.
Step By Step Picture Directions
1. Paint the Composition Out First
First I painted out the composition of the lighthouse, the hill and the horizon line. To do this, I used watered down navy blue paint and a tiny brush. Note that you can always draw this in pencil first and then go over it with the navy blue paint. You want to make sure that navy blue line is very thin. Anything thick will show up in the finished painting and we don’t want that to happen! The pictures below show the progression of drawing.
2. Paint The Sky
Then I painted the sky. I started this by creating a “wash”with light sky blue paint. A “wash” is applying water to the canvas first and then adding the paint on the color. When you add the paint, it spreads fast!
Then I did another “wash” of orange. Remember, with each “wash” you must apply the water to the canvas first and then apply the paint. The paint will spread fast! I painted orange almost all the way down, leaving about an inch of blank space left.
3. Paint Clouds
Next I painted in the clouds with a 1/2″ flat brush and white paint. Note that you can use any size paint brush for this! The pictures below are a progression of how I did the clouds.
4. Paint The Sun
Next I painted a solid white line on the horizon line and just a little above into the yellow. You want this to be the brightest part of the sky because that is where the sun is! I also painted a small half circle right in the middle of the horizon line. That half circle was also solid white.
5. Paint The Rays
To paint the sun rays I used very very watered down white to make the line look translucent. Each ray is just one stroke of very translucent white!
6. Paint The Lighthouse White
Next I painted in that lighthouse. First I painted the lighthouse in solid white to cover up any of the sunset paint marks that I got on it. Also, my white covered up any of the navy blue line that was left. I used a flat brush for this to make sure my line on the edge was as crisp as possible! Also, if you’re using craft paint (like I was) make sure you go over the white with several coats if this white is not as opaque.
7. Paint The Shadow Of The Lighthouse
There is a very distinct shadow on this lighthouse and it is on the left side. I painted the shadow in with a solid coat of navy blue paint. Note the shape of the shadow and where it curves in the middle.
There are a couple ways you can blend the shadow. You can use a wet brush to fade the blue into the white. You can pull the navy blue paint to the white until it fades away. You can add layers of translucent white over the navy blue. Or you mix your colors on your palette (mix navy blue with white) and then apply the paint. Just make sure that your line stays darkest on the far left and fades to get lighter on the right!
8. Paint The Lighthouse Top
9. Paint The Lighthouse Windows
10. Paint The Ocean
Next I painted the ocean water. To do this,I did a “wash” of bright blue (primary blue). Paint the ocean with clear water first and then add the blue. I started from the bottom of the canvas up to the horizon line so my blue would get lighter as it gets up. Don’t worry about the reflection and water texture yet.
Then I let the blue dry!
12. Paint The Reflections
The trick with painting water with acrylic is to add layers of horizontal strokes or very condensed “zig-zag” strokes. The color of the horizontal strokes are the same color of the sky because the water is a reflection of the sky. So…first I added horizontal white strokes just under the sun. Yes, these strokes were kind of translucent but can be opaque as well.
Then I added more horizontal strokes of white in the foreground (bottom). These were brighter and more opaque.
Then I added horizontal strokes of pink!
Then I added horizontal layers of yellow strokes. Be careful with the yellow! The yellow that I was using was not an opaque yellow, it was translucent. This made it kind of turn green when it was applied on top of the blue.
You can leave this as is. Or keep going with layers of more colors! I decided to add more blue because I wanted my ocean to look darker and more “water texture”. So I went in and added more horizontal blue strokes. I probably could have added more pink and orange too. Just keep adding your layers until you like the way your ocean looks!
13. Paint The Rock
Then I painted the hill. The first step was applying a “wash” of brown paint. My strokes went in an “arc” line.
Then I made the area just behind and under the lighthouse even darker by using black. Keep this black translucent by watering it down.
Then I added white to my brush that already had black in it. This will turn the white gray. I painted the right side of the hill and some of the area toward the bottom.
I cleaned off my brush entirely and added white. Then I painted some “waves” on the bottom of the hill to make it look like they are crashing into the hill.
14. Paint The Windows
Finally, my final touch was making the lighthouse appear as though the lights were shining! I did this the same was as I did the sun rays. Make a very very very translucent white. Paint a triangular shape coming out of the lighthouse from the window on the right and left.
I also went in and added more yellow into the water just below the sun.