From the southern end of the Oregon Coast, I drove up to Manzanita in one day. I enjoyed passing so many places that have became special friends because I have drawn there. There was one more subject I wanted to get in before leaving for home. I drove out to Neahkanie Beach at dusk and parked in a perfect spot to watch the sun drop down behind the ocean.
I had this idea that it would be fun to do a watercolor of the sunset. Since it’s all about the color of the sky and water, I didn’t consider using a pen or pencil. My intention was to capture the change of colors as the sun dropped below the horizon in a series of small 4 x 6 paintings. I thought this would be a worthwhile endeavor, Well . . . not so much. It turns out painting a setting sun is just about impossible! I paint quite wet and things were moving so fast all the colors pretty much ran into each other. Then there’s the fact that you can’t really look at the sun because it’s blindingly bright, so trying to figure out the colors in the sky and water was hopeless. I ended up scribbling notes about what I thought I was seeing. Once I arrived home, I used my runny watercolors, notes and photos to do a new series of paintings:
What I did learn is that when the sun is a short ways above the horizon, the light on the water is wide and yellow. As it drops lower, that shaft of light on the water becomes narrower and whiter. All the while, where the water meets the sand, there is a brilliant line of light (hard to make it glow with watercolor). Once the sun is barely above the edge of the sea, all that remains is that bright line of light along the waters edge. Pretty cool.
While I may never do finished pieces of a sunset, watching the sun go down is a great experience. A lot of other people thought so too. As I arrived, folks were congregating on the beach with their blankets and chairs to watch the show. What a peaceful way to end the day and the trip.