Paint Like Daubigny – pre-impressionist sunset over the ocean

Paint Like Daubigny – pre-impressionist sunset over the ocean


I love looking at the sunset when the sky turns into a color party. When I found the art of Daubigny on the internet and read some more background information … … I just had to paint a pre-impressionist sunset over the ocean and paint like Daubigny. Just after this. Hi there, my name is Albert van der Zwart, welcome to Imperfect Paintings … … where it is all about improving your painting skills by looking at art, yourself and the world around you. Daubigny, or in full Charles François Daubigny, is a French painter who lived from 1817 – 1878. His legacy is a large amount of beautiful paintings. The ones where he painted colors in the sky of a sunset or sunrise are my favorite. Just a hint of pink or red is enough to make me smile. But when I saw this one on the internet I was hooked. And you know what? I found this on the internet so I … … took a look at the original. Wonderful colors. But immediately it raised some questions. Is this correct? Could it be like this? I’ll get back on it while I paint my own version of a pre-impressionist sunset over the ocean. I start with a layer of white and divide the sheet in a sand, sea and sky. So I will look at his colors and create a seascape sunset sunrise painting. Painting is a process for me and I love to paint in layers … … it gives me a sense of direction and an option to adjust my route. What I now paint may look ugly to you, but this is how I work. I know the color of the sand of our beach in the Netherlands … … but if I had to pick the right one from a number of color swatches I would fail. It’s the way my brain works; a handicap or a blessing … … because I can get to the end with a personal detour too. So I start, and based on what I paint, I can see if this works and change it if necessary. So I just paint the beach, the see and the sky in ‘a’ color, that is just as the white layer, only an underpainting. When I look at the sand color of Daubigny I see this on the internet and this in the museum. My sunset holiday photographs at the beach show me this. You tell me. So I pick my own color based on what I feel is suitable for this painting. And again this is just the next layer. The next question. What color has a sunset sun above the sea or ocean? These pictures are taken in consecutive order of the same sunset … … although taken with a digital camera on automatic. So again I pick the color I want. I don’t know if I’m allowed to stand in his shadow but I really love the way … … he uses the colors to paint an interesting sky. Never a dull moment in the skies of Charles Daubigny. The way I work and the Charles Daubigny paintings perhaps looks like the impressionists painted. This is not a coincidence, because Charles Daubigny is one of the predecessors of impressionism. Daubigny, Théodore Rousseau and Jean-François Millet … … are the founders of the later famous Barbizon school of painting. They were influenced by the work of the English painter John Constable. The Barbizon school was roughly active from 1830 – 1870. The artists were moving away from the traditional rules of the art academy … … and made the landscape their subject instead of being it just a backdrop for a historical event. When you take a closer look, you still see all these brushstrokes. Not exactly how the art academy would like him to paint. So no worries, you and I can paint the way we want too. The Barbizon School is known for their loose brushwork and there use of color. Barbizon, France, is a village near the forest of Fontainebleau south of Paris … … where many of the artists gathered and got the inspiration for their paintings. As you can see I combine different colors, mix them and build up … … my idea for a sunset or sunrise paintings. When you take the next color, paint it partly overlapping. This way the colors will change more gradually, just as in reality. Next subject is the sea. And again I get different input so I just pick the colors I think are best. The North sea along the coast of the Netherlands has this blue-green-brown color … … depending on the weather conditions and of course the light, clouds or season. But I also like a more bright color so I go for this one. What is interesting to know is when you look closer at his sea … … Daubigny painted like the impressionists, who came later. In this case just some bigger brush strokes that actually are in conflict with the detailed waves in the front. Paint the color and forget about perfect, it is about your impression. Waves break when they come closer to the beach where the water is getting shallow … … or where an invisible sandbank is hidden below the surface. So I paint a number of darker stripes for the waves that are tipping over. Later I will add some white here and there. To get the water and the sand closer together I paint a little over it. As you know by now, I paint everything multiple times. This is my way of working. I look at the whole and see the sea needs some more color or details, or the sand looks dull. By adding details all over the painting, you can give it an extra depth … … or lift it to a next level and keep it all balanced. The sun reflection on the water. This is fun to do. But there isn’t always a reflection as you can see, or just minimal. Keep in mind that where the waves break, the sea or ocean isn’t a flat surface … … so it can’t reflect the sun because the rising waves block the sunlight. Paint between the waves and check for yourself if the spot looks credible. Don’t hesitate, try it out and know you can always paint the blue over it and start again. That’s my way of learning. I took a little too much of the lighter color for the sand. Just paint over it with a darker color and only leave a little of it. A giant oil tanker on the horizon. Look at this. I wanted to paint something in the foreground like the women Daubigny painted … … but I couldn’t get the perspective right so I skipped the beach pole all together. The sun was looking too sterile so I added some extra stripes around it and finger painted a little. Painting in a totally different way is also interesting to do. Looking at the night sky and seeing all these stars and constellation you could get inspired … … to paint your own universe like this Spanish painter. Click on the link and I will see you over there in the next video.

One thought on “Paint Like Daubigny – pre-impressionist sunset over the ocean

  1. An informative and skills-building experience watching your clips. Thanks so much Albert for sharing. How about a simple cubist painting for a future (like in yesterday 🙂
    ) demonstration ?

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