Every summer my painting classes head to the great outdoors.
For the evening class this summer I chose locations with long views specifically so that we could work on sunsets.
In the Studio Class we work on "sunsets"- as an element of the landscape and I have found that practice and a little study about: cloud shapes, sky color, landscape values, and low light painting can go a long way in preparation for the actual outdoor experience.
My personal feeling is this: cloud shapes MAKE the sunset. Sky colors and a quiet landscape help to make it all work but if the cloud shapes are dynamic and an active compositional element- then the sunset will also appear active and dynamic.
Everyone in class improved their plein air sunsets and I found my self much more comfortable doing what used to be very intimidating.
The time frame for a sunset is SO short - if you only do one plein air sunset a year - it can be like trying to catch a tiger by the tail; the results are seldom pretty.
I did a bunch this summer as practice and most went off wet to galleries where they sold rather quickly.
These are only a few - all are plein air, and all are pretty terse.
The last is 9x12 and probably my final plein air sunset of the season.
This winter I want to make larger versions of the studies and next summer do much larger work en plein air.
Practice, practice, practice.