It's All in My Head (painting from imagination)

I don't normally paint from's hard to stay "on topic" if I don't have a clear reference as a reminder of what it is I wanted to paint in the first place. One of the things that helped me stay focused in this case was to make a thumbnail sketch as a guide.

I used to paint from imagination all the time, before I began taking art classes. It was frustrating to ind that what was in my mind never quite matched what came out on paper. In fact, it rarely even came close. Now that I have a few years of painting practice under my belt (and know a lot of special tips and tricks), I feel ready to occasionally try something from pure imagination again.

One of the things I enjoy seeing (and am spoiled enough to see often) is a beautiful sunset. Of course, it's not always practical for me to run out and try to paint the sunset-- it changes pretty quickly (and don't get me started on the gnats!) Occasionally I'll take a picture of one, but the truth is, we see them so often, I wouldn't know where to start when choosing one for a painting.

For this piece, I tried to remember what it is I like about sunsets, so I could incorporate it into the painting. Living in Temecula as a kid, I often stopped playing to gaze up at the fiery, color-soaked sunsets. Based on those memories, I came up with a few characteristics I wanted to paint: luminous clouds, turquoise sky, red and orange streaks, and water or backlit mountains. I chose not to use water in this one, but kept the rest, and got the following result:

"Sundown" 6 x 10 Chalk Pastel on Paper

Click here to buy print:

The nice thing about painting from imagination was that I didn't have to worry about how realistic it looked. Instead, I concentrated on making sure I liked the colors and composition, and that it gave me the same delight all those sunsets I stopped to look at as a child did.

To see other paintings inspired by places, click here:


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