On the Easel: Caloundra, Early Sunrise

Below is Caloundra, Early Sunrise. It captures the initial moments of the sunrise. I was about to hit the water with my kayak. It was quiet and the sky was mostly dark, but warm light was starting to burst through the clouds.

This follows on from my Caloundra, Dramatic Sunrise painting, which is based on the same sunrise. The composition is roughly the same, but the colors and overall feeling are not.

Dan Scott, Early Sunrise, Caloundra, 2020
Dan Scott, Early Sunrise, Caloundra, 2020

Reference Photo and Study

Below is the reference photo. Feel free to try and paint it yourself.

Dan Scott, Reference Photo, Early Sunrise, Caloundra

I didn’t paint a study for this. I wanted to just pick up a brush and palette knife and jump straight into it. Sometimes, the best results come from spontaneous action.


  • Oil on Ampersand Gessoboard. 18 x 24 inches.
  • Main colors: Ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, cadmium yellow deep, and titanium white.

Refer to my supplies list for more details on what I use.


  • I utilized both brushes and palette knives. It’s an effective combination. Brushes are perfect for mixing, blending, and subtle strokes. Palette knives are perfect for bold strokes of distinct color.
  • Painting the same scene allows me to gain a deeper understanding of color and light. Claude Monet explored this idea with water lilies, the Rouen Cathedral, the Waterloo Bridge, and many other subjects.
  • I stopped whilst the painting still appeared fresh and spontaneous.
  • Movement is a key feature of the painting. I was constantly thinking about the swirling wind and the ebbs and flows of the water.
  • I painted with instinct rather than calculated thought. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. It doesn’t take much for instinct to turn into a sloppy mess on the canvas.

Progress Shots

Step 1: A simple sketch, focusing on key lines, shapes, and movement.

Dan Scott, Early Sunrise, Caloundra, 1

Step 2: Thin washes of color.

Dan Scott, Early Sunrise, Caloundra, 2

Step 3: Wipe down and refine using paper towel.

Dan Scott, Early Sunrise, Caloundra, 3

Step 4: Build up color using brushes and palette knives.

Dan Scott, Early Sunrise, Caloundra, 5

Step 5: Add dark accents, highlights, and finishing touches. Then sign and photograph the finished painting.

Dan Scott, Early Sunrise, Caloundra, 2020
Dan Scott, Early Sunrise, Caloundra, 2020

Additional Resources

Thanks for Reading!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate it! Feel free to share with friends. If you want more painting tips, check out my Painting Academy course.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy


Dan Scott is the founder of Draw Paint Academy. He's a self-taught artist from Australia with a particular interest in landscape painting. Draw Paint Academy is run by Dan and his wife, Chontele, with the aim of helping you get the most out of the art life. You can read more on the About page.