Black Canvas – Season 1, Ep 3 – “Ebony Sunset”

This post was a bit delayed, but the painting is done. This one was full of challenges. This was also the first time I nearly gave up on this project.

This weeks painting was: Ebony Sunset. A classic Bob Ross painting that apparently groups regularly do in Bob Ross style painting classes.

A black canvas painting by Bob Ross

“Ebony Sunset” by Bob Ross, from The Joy of Painting, Season 1, Episode 3. Image from thetvdb.com.

Today, we’ll be working with black canvas. Bob Ross DOES give you instructions about what exactly he’s talking about as far as this goes – but only does so once you’re already well into the episode. I got advice from my Art Supply Friend (thanks, Friend!) who got me to just buy a black prepared canvas – which was about the same price as a regular prepared canvas.

It’s safe to say now that if you are attempting this same project (especially as a beginner painter – like me) that you should always watch the entire episode before you begin to paint. Although oil paint does not dry quickly, it would be a shame to begin working only to realize half-way through that you need different equipment.

This week’s painting was on a black canvas, and instead of covering the canvas in Liquid White – we were covering it with Alizarin (A Lizard In) Crimson. To make this suitable for the canvas, rather than covering it with straight Crimson, I blended it with the walnut oil – as I have been doing to make my Liquid White.

The painting was actually going very very well. I was amazed at the depth of colour and how bright everything could look on such a dark background.

And then it happened.

My Almighty Easel, was truly NOT Almighty. The front legs pushed back and caused the canvas to slip off the frame. I caught it just before it hit the floor…with my hand… in the paint…right on the part I was most happy with.

I kind of broke down then. All of my frustrations and my feelings of inadequacy in my painting and my inability to do visual art came out and I just…kind of lost it.

My very supportive partner helped me clean up the mess and convinced me that this was an opportunity to challenge myself and fix the painting.

And I kept plugging away.

Overall, it turned out not too bad. I wasn’t able to fix everything. I also decided that while Bob wants there to be a happy little path with a friendly rock – I do not. Too much paint on the canvas and the challenge of making the palette knife work for me was more than I could take on. So, since it’s my world, I turned it into more of a grassland.

Finished Product:

A worse version of Bob Ross's painting

My attempt at “Ebony Sunset”

Amount of Time: 3 hours?

Special Equipment: Black Canvas; Liquid Alizarin Crimson

Overall Verdict: I get the whole black canvas concept much better now. It really does have a depth to it that the white ones haven’t had yet. It’s a bit hard to photograph, and Bob mentions that in every light it will look a bit different – and he’s completely right. I guess in all it’s not too bad, considering I had my hand in the middle of the painting earlier on.

What I like the most: Sun tipped grassy knolls. Good ol’ fanbrush – it was invaluable for those!

I took a week off from painting, but look forward to next week’s “Winter Mist”, which already has me feeling intimidated!

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