Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nocturnal Painting

"Many demons are in woods, in waters, in wildernesses, and in dark poolly places..." –Martin Luther

Amped up on a cherry Coke and a cherry moon pie, I went out to Radnor Lake to do my second ever moon painting. (Only now is it occurring to me that I had a moon  My first moon painting, completed about 2 years ago, turned out to be a turquoise and fuchsia disaster upon indoor viewing. But I love being at the lake at night, so that alone was incentive to try it again.

I started out with a twilight moon scene, which seemed less daunting than full night. The last red stains of sunset had just disappeared from the hilltops when I started painting, and it was pitch black when I finished. Here's a blurry photo, on location, of the result:

Twilight Moon - 6x8

The values look accurate in this nighttime photo, but indoors, the sky and water are way too light. I'll have to pump the values down a bit.

Then I painted the moon on its upward journey through the branches. I noticed things about moonlight I've never noticed before. It does have an orangey hue in real life, not just in Halloween cartoons (or is it just pollution?). Also, the moon creates a thin, sharp, white glow along the edges of nearby branches, which are black except for this razor edge of white.

Upward Journey - 5x7

One reason my moon paintings came out better this year is that I'm using good lighting. You can see my nocturnal set-up here ... the little light on my easel is a book light purchased at Barnes & Noble.

Being outdoors tonight was wonderful. I saw and heard otters swimming in the water and crashing through the brush along the shore. I didn't need my iPod because I had bickering geese, screeching owls, and a ghostly, unidentified forest sound to keep me company the whole time. That last sound was either an owl or a distant, howling dog...a very sad, eerie sound. I can completely understand why people at one time believed the woods were filled with demons.


  1. I love these posts! Thanks for sharing. Didn't you post another on the member site? I don't see it anymore, where did it go??
    Great work! Tiffany

  2. I appreciate your comment! I had posted this blog link to my own wall at one point. Now it's at the bottom of my "links" section, getting buried under other links. I need to make it easier to get to... It can also be found (for now, anyway) on the wall at the Chestnut Group, where I posted about the tornado warnings.

  3. I can't hardly believe that you can paint that well in the dark...Plein Air is hard enough. I am particularly fascinated and charmed with your moon view. Did you get a crick in your neck?
    john e'callaw