Anti-Twilight Arch

Anti-Twilight Arch 2

I feel particularly blessed to be living in the Wiltshire countryside with its huge open spaces and beautiful sweeping plains. Also I feel incredibly lucky to be living in a position where I see this view of what we locally call Oliver’s Castle on the edge of Roundway Hill, (why?) because it faces west and catches all the incredible colours not only during the sunsets but during the more rarely visible anti-twilight arch too. Next time you witness a stunning sunset just turn around and have a look at the view opposite and if the conditions are right then you might see even more extraordinary colours in the anti-twilight arch.

The two photos show my observations of the landscape. One hour before the anti-twilight arch as the sun was getting lower, you can see the long shadow of an oak tree quite purple across the field and the trees and hill looking very green. In the second photo, during the anti-twilight arch or belt of Venus as it is also known, the trees and hill have been covered in an orange blanket whilst the shade around the trees has now become a mixture of emerald and dark blue/greens.

I first witnessed an anti-twilight arch without realising it when I was out with one of my students during a pastel landscape lesson in the fields and when we turned around we saw the hill behind us glow such an amazing pinky / yellowy / orange. Not only that but nestling in between the trees were their emerald shadows… yes, emerald! I knew instantly that this was something quite rare and something so powerful for a landscape artist to witness… indeed Goethe made many of his theories about colour not in the lab like Sir Isaac Newton but outside observing nature and the changes in colour of nature with the movement of the sun and other atmospheric conditions.

As soon as I got home I did some research and discovered that it only happens at twilight. I didn’t realise at the time, but twilight can actually be either just before the sunrise or just after the sunset and the position of the sun is the important factor as it is just below the horizon so the band of colour or arc seen opposite is a reflection of the sun glow and shadow of the earth’s surface below it. The band, arc or ring of colour moves away very quickly as the sun drops or rises. I now believe that the ancient people using Stonehenge would not only have been observing the sun streaming through but from the distance too, admiring the incredible array of colours reflected on the stones themselves which would have been magical.

Realising that it’s not possible to capture such amazing and fleeting colours en plein air I scrutinised my photos and came up with the idea of painting a series of 6 pastels which would sit almost as a panoramic view when displayed together. The first thing to do was to gather my colours which I always find the most exciting part of a new project. This is the palette I chose… you’ll have to forgive me for the scruffiness of the page as when I’m choosing colours I’m totally focused on colour and not being neat and tidy! 

Anti-Twilight Arch 5

The second thing I do is a really quick sketch with pastels – my quickie colour sketch and then I start the final piece. I haven’t included the sketches of the final paintings. The set of 6 all found new homes very quickly. The piece chosen by the Pastel Society for their 123rd show sold on the preview night, that particular buyer bought a second one, two of the others now live in London and the final 2 of the six were bought and flown over to Egypt.

These are the 6 final paintings:  Anti-Twilight Arch, Roundway Hill, Wiltshire.

All pastels used are Unison Colour pastels (see codes above) on Fisher 400 sanded paper with a Unison Colour/alcohol underpainting.

I have always loved intense, saturated colours as you will know already if you follow me on social media and my passion for tangerine orange and emerald green (not necessarily together!) has grown enormously as they represent a personal and hugely important memory for me and a turning point in my landscape painting career. So in conclusion, I’d like to encourage you to go out for an early morning walk or just before dusk and seek out, not so much the sunrise and the sunset but what is happening opposite these… the anti-twilight arch. Trees are a particularly exciting subject to catch with the colours of this incredible phenomenon. I always feel so refreshed and re-energised when I have witnessed these moments of nature.

As a final thought, I have to include this special and very recent anti-twilight arch photo which happens to be highlighting my new top floor town studio, in the building with the statue… Not the cinema!

Anti-Twilight Arch 12

Interested to learn more from Cathy Pearce?

Check out Cathy’s Colour Theory course – a series of tutorials (almost 3 hours of video) solely looking at colour theory for pastel artists, covering 6 areas…

  • Making your own pastel colour wheel reference
  • Greyscale and colour value
  • Colour temperature
  • Choosing a colour palette
  • Defining, describing and changing colours
  • Colour relativity

These are all essential elements required for making successful and balanced paintings.

Complete Practical Colour Theory Course for Pastel Artists in 6 Essential Lessons, with Cathy Pearce 1

Complete Practical Colour Theory Course for Pastel Artists in 6 Essential Lessons, with Cathy Pearce

Almost 3 hours of video tutorials solely looking at colour theory for pastel artists.

Nessie’s Sunset

I am really excited to be sharing this blog with you. The view is looking over the western side of the North Tyne Valley, towards Dallycastle in Northumberland.


Colour is the element of my work which is remarked upon most of all. In fact I have many followers who tell me that they look out for my new posts as they find my joyful use of colour so up-lifting.

#thepastel8 Visit to Thorneyburn

A fabulous day was spent at Thorneyburn last Friday in the company of Fiona Carvell, Michelle Lucking, Nina Squire, Cathy Pierce, Lynn Howarth, Meral Altilar, Lucy Brangwin and Rebecca de Mendonça.

My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold A Rainbow In The Sky

The first difficulty in depicting a rainbow in pastel is not the rainbow itself but rather the treatment of the pastel dust in the underlying layers so that the beauty of the rainbow’s colours sit resplendent on top.

Dexterity and Mark Making

How we use and hold our pastels will determine what amazing marks we will make. Eventually, with practice and discovery through play, this will create our style.

Associate Artist Recruitment

Are you a pastel artist? Do you use Unison Colour pastels? Would you like to be part of our Associate Artist family?

Breaking Pastels

Who would believe what possibilities and potential lie inside these neatly wrapped lozenges of colour? They are essentially chunks of pure dry pigment, more intense in colour than any tube of paint.

If you enjoyed reading this…

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive more blogs like this, as well as other Unison Colour news including upcoming events and exclusive offers.

Use the buttons below to share this blog…

2 responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Blog Posts

New Summer Mini Soft Pastel Set

A new pastel set to celebrate the colours of Midsummer’s Day. Perfect for capturing your colourful flowers, summer holiday or a relaxing day in the garden.

A soft pastel painting of a tree during golden hour.

Discovering Reflected Color

When asked to identify the color of a shadow, it is common to respond that it would be a darker color of whatever is in shadow.  A shadow of a tree on green grass would be a darker green.  A shadow of the same tree on dirt would be a darker brown.

Garden of Colour and Flight

On two sides looking out the windows is the woods, the view begins not four foot off the sidewalls where trees and open forest floor slope up and gently away. When the spring rain comes, water gathers in the high places and forms water falling streams that run toward and alongside the studio heading toward gathering ponds on the lower side.

Log In

When requesting a Password Reset using the 'Lost your password?' option, you'll receive an email with a link to reset your password. It's important to note that if you request multiple emails, only the most recent link will work.

Customer Enquiries

Got a question?

Please don’t hesitate to send us any questions, and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
If you’d rather send us an email, please get in touch at:

Or give us a call on +44 (0)1434 240203 and choose option 1, for Liz.

Trade Enquiries

For trade enquiries, please contact us as below:


[email protected] or call Liz on +44 (0)1434 240203 Option 1

China and Russia
North America
ROW (Exc. China and Russia)