Earlier this year I painted a giant 40″ x 27″ Mussenden Temple sunset view. I immediately got a request for another one and at the time I’d been torn between two reference images. So I jumped at the chance to paint the second one. I cropped it to a panorama, so this one is 40″ x 17″. Hope you enjoy the progress! I’ve waited on a particularly wet Spanish day to write this..

The finished painting, 40″ x 17″ soft pastel on velour

I begin by backing my giant sheet of velour pastel paper on self adhesive mount board. This firms it up and I use the extra tacky foam board, the type that cannot be removed. I also don’t have an easel that can support a piece this big so instead I taped it to the wall. I’m thinking it’s a bit healthier to stand for the odd painting too. I spend too much time sitting!

The weather here in Spain has turned to Autumn and some days we have rain! It’s been a while since we saw that so the dogs take the opportunity to cosy up with me in the studio while I work. All three get along pretty well now, they definitely appreciate eachothers’ body heat in the cooler weather!


After day one of pastel I’ve got a good bit of the sky started. Working my way across the sky from left to right, using thin layers of colour blended together.

I continue the cloud effect across the sky. Laying down dark colours first and plotting out where the clouds go. It’s important for the sense of perspective in this to create a nice fan around the sky bursting from the middle.

Bringing lighter coral pinks and oranges into the sky. I’ve used some of my most vibrant Unison pastels on this piece. A yellow I’ve rarely had a change to use before was just the job.

I begin work on the distant land and sea.

The temple is a building I’ve painted three times now. Usually in photographs with the temple at the outer edges of the photo, it tends to look a bit warped due to the lens. I try to straighten things out a little in my initial sketch.

Blocking in the rest of the sea

The sea is an area I find extremely confusing so I tent to hop over on this foreground area any time I need a break. I don’t find any of these paintings easy, so much time is spent standing thinking as well as hands on painting time. But I try to be kind to myself and take breaks from difficult areas.

A bit more motivated by the rest of the piece I start a long day’s work on the sea area. It takes up a siginificant area of the painting and reflects so much of what is happening in the sky.

Using all the colours I used in the sky to add highlights on the sea.

Nearing the end. Last bit of work to do on the foreground.

A picture of the finished piece for a sense of scale. Many thanks for following the progression! I didn’t film this one as I filmed the Mussenden painting from earlier in the year. If you would like to see how I painted that sunset in video form check out my Youtube channel. For the full length sunset tutorial and lots more visit me on Patreon..