Clouds make most skies better and more interesting to paint. Including sunsets.
It’s always the question, will the clouds block the sun at one point, will it shine again?
Will you see an orange/red one or will it be behind those lower horizontal ‘bands’ of clouds?
It helps to start early enough so you’ll have time to paint the sunlit sands. Because the whole effect will be different when the clouds block the light. And should you be unfortunate: the sun moving behind clouds to never show itself again, you’ll then have the same circumstances as a moment passed sunset. Totally different colors. Cool, dark. So, start early.
Adjust your cooler (earlier) yellows to warmer ones as you move with time. Paint the clouds and effects quick. Don’t wait to place sand, water, figures, have a good notion of the effects of the setting sun on these.
Bringing the total painting into a good balance composition-wise can be done (even after sunset) with the help of a mirror, as long as you already put paint on the total, you do not have to make stuff up. Say to yourself “Just do it”. It will help you getting over the fear of ‘not being able to paint it’ as this subject IS daunting and this moment is so swift to pass. It’s better to TRY than to skip the opportunity out of FEAR. These things will get easier the more you “Just do it”.
Often I'll continue for as long as I can see what I do.
It's light on the beach, even after sunrise, but after 40 minutes it will get too dark to see color from color.
And then, that's that.
I recommend to NOT fuss with the painting once indoors looking at it. Sleep and view it in the morning to see if stuff needs changing: and then still, maybe nothing needs changing. Just view it again 2 weeks later. Often you'll then really see it for what it is. Weird, but true.
Here I have a 10-Step Beach Sunset Painting PDF
Go to the Resources page here to find it