The Light of the Moon

Heading into the long, dark nights of winter, we do not despair! Winter nights can provide opportunities for painting nocturnes, and we eagerly prepare our plein air painting palettes for the night work. There are good reasons to take advantage of winter nights. In our area, we've had milder winters lately, with some night temps into the 40s – perfect painting weather. Darkness comes earlier, so we don't have to work in the middle of the night. It is much quieter and more peaceful out in a still winter night. We are free from annoying insects and the often suffocating summertime humidity that causes murky light. Nocturnes are a subject few other artists are exploring today – the field is wide open for us to put our unique hand to. Nocturnes stand out – they don't look like any other paintings. Perhaps best of all, they are fun to paint.

One artist we always look to for inspiration is the Russian landscape painter, Isaac Levitan (1860-1900). Levitan painted with a natural simplicity and is honored as one of the finest artists in Russian history. His works are often called "landscapes of mood" and his nocturnes are especially sublime. Here are some examples of his work.

Bonfire by Isaac Levitan, ca 1895.
Bonfire by Isaac Levitan, ca 1895.
Twilight Moon by Isaac Levitan, 1899.
Twilight Moon by Isaac Levitan, 1899.
Silence by Isaac Levitan, 1898.
Silence by Isaac Levitan, 1898.
Shadows Moonlit Night by Isaac Levitan, ca 1885.
Shadows Moonlit Night by Isaac Levitan, ca 1885.

Be sure to copy and paste the Calendar of Full Moons for 2014 to your desktop. If you are fortunate enough to have clear skies and decent temperatures, we hope you'll take the opportunity to paint under the light of the moon. Once you do, you will more fully appreciate Levitan's remarkable achievements. Our upcoming new eBook, Nocturnes – A Primer on Night Painting, will help you get ready and inspire you with examples of  many more wonderful nocturnes by the very best.

 

Calendar of Full Moons for 2014

 

January 16, 04:52 GMT – Wolf Moon

February 14, 23:53 GMT – Snow Moon

March 16, 17:08 GMT – Worm Moon

April 15, 07:42 GMT – Pink Moon

May 14, 19:16 GMT – Flower Moon

June 13, 04:11 GMT – Strawberry Moon

July 12, 11:25 GMT – Buck Moon

August 10, 18:09 GMT – Sturgeon Moon

September 9, 1:38 GMT – Harvest Moon

October 8, 10:51 GMT – Hunters' Moon

November 6, 22:23 GMT – Beaver Moon

December 6, 12:27 GMT – Cold Moon

"As light fades and the shadows deepen, all petty and exacting details vanish,

everything trivial disappears, and I see things as they are in great strong masses:

the buttons are lost, but the sitter remains; the sitter is lost, but the shadow remains;

the shadow is lost, but the picture remains.

And that, night cannot efface from the painter's imagination."

                                                   – James Abbot McNeill Whistler

 

Please join us on The Artist's Road for more interesting and informative articles. And consider a membership to The Artist's Road – it is a great gift idea.

–John and Ann

 

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John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

About John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

John Hulsey and his wife, Ann Trusty created the website, The Artist's Road - Painting the World's Beautiful Places.  The Artist's Road inspires with practical art tips and painting techniques for the traveling artist, video painting tutorials and demonstrations, workshop resources, artist profiles and interviews and remarkable painting locations.  The Artist's Road is an artist community for oil, watercolor and pastel artists.  Articles cover intriguing art travel experiences artists have had while painting the world's beautiful places. "I believe I must speak through my art, for the preservation of Nature and the natural landscape from which I take my inspiration and living." John Hulsey is an accomplished artist, author and teacher who has been working professionally for over thirty years. In addition to producing new work for exhibition and teaching workshops, Mr. Hulsey continues to write educational articles about painting for national art magazines, including Watercolor magazine and American Artist Magazine. He has been selected as a "Master Painter of the United States" by International Artist Magazine where his work was previously chosen to be included in the top ten of their international landscape painting competition. He was awarded residencies at Yosemite, Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks. "I strive in my art to celebrate the mysteries of Nature - the fleeting light on the landscape, the unimaginable diversity of creatures, the beauty of each leaf and flower." Ann Trusty  is an accomplished third generation artist whose work embodies the natural world and is created through direct observation and translation of her subjects into her paintings. She has found inspiration in the dancing light across the water of the Hudson River (where she had a studio for ten years), as well as the big sky and waving tall grasses of the open plains of the Midwest (her current home). Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, France and Turkey in both museum and gallery exhibitions, and has been reviewed favorably by the New York Times.

2 thoughts on “The Light of the Moon

  1. when you say you paint plein air nocturnes….are you actually out in 40 and minus weather? how do you light your easel? do you have lamps or paint by the light you have? just some practical questions…i live in sweden and it can be minus10 and during the heart of winter it isn’t light between 4pm and 9am–I live in Southern Sweden, so further north they have total polar darkness and summer.

    the idea of painting plein air year round sounds interesting…since it means so many hours for me…usually i go into hibernation mode, reading, sketching, watching movies and drinking lots of tea. or doing studio pieces until it warms up enough to go outside again. 🙂

  2. when you say you paint plein air nocturnes….are you actually out in 40 and minus weather? how do you light your easel? do you have lamps or paint by the light you have? just some practical questions…i live in sweden and it can be minus10 and during the heart of winter it isn’t light between 4pm and 9am–I live in Southern Sweden, so further north they have total polar darkness and summer.

    the idea of painting plein air year round sounds interesting…since it means so many hours for me…usually i go into hibernation mode, reading, sketching, watching movies and drinking lots of tea. or doing studio pieces until it warms up enough to go outside again. 🙂

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