On the Easel: Dramatic Sunrise, Caloundra

Below is one of my more dramatic paintings, Dramatic Sunrise, Caloundra. Let’s take a look at how I painted it.

Dan Scott, Dramatic Sunrise, Caloundra, 2020
Dan Scott, Dramatic Sunrise, Caloundra, 2020

Reference Photo

Below is the reference photo I painted from. I had just hit the water in my kayak and was about to do some fishing. The glassy water reflected the fiery sky. A magnificent sight.

Dan Scott, Reference Photo, Dramatic Sunrise, Caloundra

This photo was taken on a significant day for me. I had spent six months chasing a monster flathead. Thousands of casts, hundreds of hours on the water, and many days without a bite. This was the day my luck changed. I finally landed the big one later in the morning. 31.4 inches (80 cm). My best catch in many years, and my best ever on a kayak. I released her to fight another day and hopefully give birth to more fish. It’s nice when two interests, fishing and painting, align like this.

Caloundra, Flathead


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

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


  • Drama is the big idea of this painting. There’s no single focal point; the painting as a whole is the focus. I drew inspiration from Joseph Turner’s work, who was a master of ambiance and drama.
  • I painted almost entirely with a palette knife, only using brushes for the start. The palette knife was perfect for making dramatic strokes of broken color. It was also much easier to clean up.
  • The reference photo was taken back in June 2020. The lockdowns have restricted travel, so I looked back through my old photos for inspiration. There’s always inspiration hidden there.
  • The palette knife works well with the hard gessoboard surface. I was able to scrape, scratch, and apply paint without having to worry about damaging the surface.

Progress Shots

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

Dan Scott, Dramatic Sunrise, Caloundra, 1

Step 2: Thin washes of bright color. Then wipe down with paper towel to remove excess paint.

Dan Scott, Dramatic Sunrise, Caloundra, 2

Step 3: Use the palette knife to apply thick strokes of color. Start with the sky, then move to the water.

Dan Scott, Dramatic Sunrise, Caloundra, 3

Step 4: Finish the water and start refining.

Dan Scott, Dramatic Sunrise, Caloundra, 5

Step 5. Photograph the finished painting (I still need to sign it). Keep in mind, I use a better camera to photograph my finished paintings. Hense why it looks different from the progress shots.

Dan Scott, Dramatic Sunrise, Caloundra, 2020, 700W
Dan Scott, Dramatic 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. Want to learn more about landscape painting? My Landscape Painting Masterclass opens for enrollment in a few days. Join the waitlist here if interested.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott


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.

Enjoyed this post? Join over 123,000 artists who subscribe to the Draw Paint Academy newsletter.