Damien Kennedy

Sunset Over Drumcliffe



Hi Mary and welcome to the first of our tutorials following up from our most recent Zoom Class.

This will be a step by step approach.

If you have anything you want advise on or a few extra tips, you can phone me any day at 085 233 7413 between 10am and 8pm


This beautiful photograph was taken by local photographer Damien Kennedy. It is a unique glimpse of a Drumcliff sunset.

I would suggest a 50×40 cm canvas for this painting which would be a 5 to 4 divide. (you may also use a 40×30 cm canvas but then you must use a 4 to 3 divide)

Dividing your 50cm x 40cm canvas into a 5:4 Ratio (each area =10cm)

Divide your 50×40 cm canvas into the areas shown above and then follow up with the same process on your picture below.

Remember, whatever you do on your canvas, you must also do with your picture

If you are using a 40×30 canvas you can still divide it by 5 and 4 just (like above) They wont be quite square but it will only be a slight difference


Divided into a %;4 ratio to suit a 50x 40 canvas.

Look at your picture and see what the most challenging areas are. In this case I’d suggest the areas I am pointing to (see below). What I would suggest you do to make things easier would be to ‘sub-divide these areas like I have done below. It will help you with the most difficult parts of the drawing.

Please remember what I said earlier….whatever you do on the picture you must also repeat on the canvas.

Sub divide the most challenging areas


After you have completed your drawing with pencil you should then proceed with a process what’s known as ‘inking’

Inking your drawing helps you to see the painting more clearly, stops your pencil line from influencing your colours and takes the intimidating look of a freshly sketched canvas and somehow appearing to make your task ahead a lot easier

To make up the ink you should pour a few drops of white spirits into a jam jar lid and put a little Burnt Sienna paint into your lid mixing them together until you transform your paint into a flexible ink like mixture, not too strong or not too weak, just enough to allow your smallest paintbrush to glide over your pencil lines.

Making the ink
Rough pencil drawing followed by inking.

No need to be too particular with the sheep, the rougher the better. You can worry about more of the detail at the painting stage.

The only change I have made is to reduce the length of the feeder. You may make whatever changes you may like to do to the foreground. You may even leave out the feeder altogether if you would prefer and replace it with clay or grass, weeds etc

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Damian-Kennedy-2.jpg

We will now start our sky

Please have at the ready some White and a little French Ultramarine Blue , Raw Umber and a touch of Crimson Alizeron.

STAGE 3 THE SKY (without the mountain for the moment)

Please paint a base coat of white over the sky and distant land areas, gently covering all land outlines but in a way that these outlines are still visible.

The sky colours are Crimson Alizeron with white (to make pink) and Raw Umber and French Ultramarine Blue (to make a blue/grey) Blend these two together and apply as I have done below.

(If you’d prefer to have it with a little more grey then cut down you use of Crimson and increase your French Ultramarine Blue. Personally I like the Crimson influence)

A few small touches of Yellow Ochre with white put through the pinks at the higher ends of the sky would create added interest but don’t overdo this.

Keep your colours darker on the top and have them gradually succumb to the influence of the white base coat by gently toning (with a round head sable brush) the further down you come

By the time you are touching the trees, the sky should be almost white

Paint all of the sky in as if there is NO mountain just for the moment as it impedes your brush movements and in this case it’s more important to paint the lower skies and tips of trees land mist together without any interference from the mountain

This detail can be worked on at a later stage.

Concentrating on the sun and sky only for now


Now to start the trees.

Mix some Raw Umber with a little Crimson Alizeron and White. You will notice that in general, the higher parts are a little darker and the mist influences colours the lower it gets

Start with the tops first with a round head sable brush and paint your brushes lightly in a downward direction letting the weight of your brush as you come down. A bit tricky but worth it.

Add little touches of Crimsons and maybe some Yellow Ochers in the higher areas

Painting the top tips of the trees on a white base coat


The main colours you will need for these areas I’m working on below are Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Sap Green and Raw Umber and of course white..

Place them where you see them, bearing in mind that when a colour goes in to the distance it loses its clarity and becomes paler (extra white added)

The near divisions are painted with Raw Umber but as they go back they will fade, break up and narrow.

Use a round headed sable brush whenever you want to discourage too much detail and use a flat haired sable brush when you need to see some definition such as field divisions etc

The first half of this painting is all about getting the perspective right so your use of whites in the colours is very important

The mist will allow some hints of the brights but these will be very faint.

Gradually introducing the lands on a white base coat


Painting the basecoat

Now it is the time to apply the base coat.

I am using some Yellow Ochre with little touches of extra whites here and there. I am going to concentrate on the area just above the feeder.

Placing the colours on the base coat

Place your colours on the Yellow Ochre base coat.

The colours that you need at this stage are Raw Umber (for that earthy effect), Burnt Sienna, Yellow mixed with Yellow Ochre, Yellow mixed with Burnt Sienna (to achieve that rich gold effect).

Whites will be used mainly as you retreat back into the background. The further back you go the more white is added .

Use a flat brush for the colour placing using a downward stroke.


Starting the Sheep

Use a flat head brush to place a rich white base coat. The colours needed for the sheep are White, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine Blue.

Try to identify all the shaded areas. They are mainly grey but different shades of grey. There are two main shades of grey here. Blue Grey, Brown Grey and ordinary grey which is White and Paynes Grey

Apply the greys but when doing so paint in the direction the fleece is falling. Guide your brush as if you were brushing the sheep.

When painting the horns please note the white highlights as these are important when you are separating the smooth horn from the rough fleece. The white shines here and there will help you achieve this.

Brush stroke direction is important here so it’s best to use a curved stroke with a round head brush.


I have done a little extra with the mountain.

Firstly I refreshed the area where I wanted to put the mountain with the original pinks that were there already. This was done to help me tone the mountain towards the left and allow it to disappear into the background

When doing this use a small hog haired round head brush. I used my finger to do the last of the mountain blending.

Use a samll touch of French Ultramarine Blue with a tiny tiny bit of Payne’s Grey but allow it to get pinker the closer to the sun you go

Rough Base Coats coming down to the Feeder

For the rough base coats, please use Sap Green, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Raw Sienna, and touches of Cadmium Yellow and white.

Apply these in a rough downward stroke with a flat hog hair or sable brush in their appropriate areas.

For the area below the feeder (I have reduced the original size of the feeder) we will be using a small palette knife.

to be continued….