How to Paint Golden Hour Landscapes With Acrylics

Do you love the warm, orangey light of the Golden Hour? If you want to learn how to capture that magic in your paintings, read on! In this tutorial, we will walk you through the steps of painting a beautiful landscape during the Golden Hour. We’ll show you how to choose the right colors and values, and how to create realistic cast shadows. So grab your paints and let’s get started!

Learn Tips For Painting Golden Hour Landscapes

Painting landscape with acrylics is all about understanding various lighting conditions. For example, is the light behind you, in front, is it below the horizon, or just about the set? These are some f the factors artists think about prior to beginning a painting. Of course, there are many others like design, composition, point of interest, and so on.

In this landscape tutorial, we will cover the golden hour. But first, let’s find out what this is, and then we can take the next steps. FYI, this is an excerpt from Landscape Painting Fundamentals Part 2. Check out the class if you want to see the entire lesson and learn a lot more.

How to Paint Golden Hour Landscapes with acrylics
What is the golden hour of the day

Step-by-step guide

Now that we have covered the basics, let’s walk through the steps of creating a Golden Hour landscape. We will not be using a photo as a reference for this demo. The scene is made up s that we can focus on the techniques.

What is the golden hour in landscape painting?

This is when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky, and the light has a warm, orangey glow. The golden hour usually occurs an hour or two before sunset, or an hour or two after sunrise.

Materials used in the demo: In this demo, we will be using acrylic paints on archival paper. However, you can use any type of paint you like for landscape painting – oil, watercolor, etc. You can learn more about our preferred materials here.

Add the layout drawing

Step #1 – Add the drawing

The first step is to add the drawing using a small flat brush, loaded with gray. You may prefer pencil, so that’s okay, too. Keep details to a minimum. So long as the big and medium shapes are in place, you should be good. This is a study, not a realistic rendering to be submitted to the next show.

Blocking in ground plane

Step #2 – Block-in the ground plane

Block-in the ground plane using warm-yellow. We mixed this using yellow ochre and viridian. remember, the is a golden hour scene. Everything will have more, orange, red and yellow in it. Mix accordingly.

Painting the path

Step #3 – Block-in the path

Paint a warm white for the path. Perhaps some of the yellow ochre mixed with titanium white and a touch of ultramarine blue. Keep atmospheric perspective in mind! Colors get lighter as the fade into the distance.

Painting the verticals

Step #4 – Paint the shadow side of verticals

This is the darkest value in the landscape, and it holds true for golden hour scenery. You may want a little cadmium red in the mixture to keep the warm theme going. Use darker hues on objects that are closer to you and mix in yellow ochre, and or titanium white as they move into the distant areas.

Painting the golden light on verticals

Step #5 – Paint the golden light on the verticals

As you may have guessed, mix colors that are very orange-yellow! Keep a little viridian green in the hue, but that’s about it. We used a little viridian, titanium white and orange.

Painting the white building

Step #6 – Paint the white building

The white building will be influenced by the low sun. Obviously, you want a color that has some yellow and orange in it. Avoid pure white, this color doesn’t exist in the golden hour.

Painting sky gradation

Step #7 – Paint the sky and clouds

The sky is the lightest area in the landscape. Keep the values light and use good sky gradation techniques. I talked about that quite a bit in this article.

One side of the cloud will be in shadow, as well as some of the tops. Again, a little red, orange and yellow ochre will look cohesive in the scenario.

Final adjustments

Step #8 – Add finishing details

Step back and have a look at the study. Compare values and colors to see if there’s any adjustments that need to be made.

Other landscape examples you will enjoy

Golden hour landscape
– Golden hour landscape
Golden hour landscape example
– Landscape with golden hour effect
Golden hour cityscape
– Golden hour cityscape

What to do next

To try this out on your own, find a landscape photo reference and apply the golden hour techniques you learned in this class to it. A great way to master painting the golden hour landscape.

How to learn more


We hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to paint golden hour landscapes with acrylics: a beginner’s guide. Stay tuned for more landscape painting tutorials! In the meantime, be sure to check out our other blog posts [list here]. Happy painting!

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