How to Paint an African Sunset

Written by charong chow
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How to Paint an African Sunset
Sunset in Kruger Park, South Africa, creates dark silhouettes. (African Sunset in Kruger image by Ross Coundon from

Africa is the continent south of Europe, with countries like Morocco, South Africa, Kenya and many others. Scientists believe that the first female Homo Sapien was born in Africa, and every person on this planet is descended from her. Facts like this have created much mystery and interest about Africa, and artists have used its landscape as a subject for much art. You can paint your own Africa sunset by studying its vegetation and ecology.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • HB Pencil
  • Prepared canvas
  • Paints
  • Brushes
  • Small plastic cups

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  1. 1

    Draw a horizon line on your prepared canvas using an HB pencil. Draw a horizontal line across the canvas about halfway down from the top.

  2. 2

    Add a native African tree such as the Baobab, which is found in South Africa's Kruger National Park, to your canvas. This large tree has a distinctively large trunk that can hold up to 40 people inside, and some trees have been carbon dated at 3,000 years old. Draw the contours, or outline, of the tree slightly off centre to give your painting interesting composition.

    How to Paint an African Sunset
    (baobab and antelope silhouette image by stefanie van der vinden from
  3. 3

    Draw another Baobab tree next to the first one. Add tall grass and rocks with your pencil. Also, draw a circle just above the horizon line. This will be your setting sun.

  4. 4

    Pour paints that you will use into small plastic cups. Mostly you will be using dark brown, black and orange for your sunset painting. Most of the detail of the landscape will be seen in silhouette.

  5. 5

    Paint an orange glowing setting sun with a medium-sized brush. The centre will be slightly brighter yellow. Add darker orange for most of the sky and add dark scattered clouds. The tops of the clouds will be lighter while the lower portion will have the shadows.

  6. 6

    Paint the land, grasses and the trees dark brown. Keep in mind that everything is in silhouette because the light source, the sun, is setting. The sun is the focus, while everything is in shadow.

  7. 7

    Add tones, or shadows and highlights, to your trees and landscape. Add blacks to the centre of the trees and patches of orange across some of the land and grasses to capture the setting sun.

Tips and warnings

  • Experiment with adding silhouetted animals and more trees.
  • Play with different times of the day to create different paintings about Africa.
  • Paint in a well-ventilated room and use a dust sheet to protect your furniture and floors from paint.

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