Twilight Painting en Plein Air–No Vampires, Please

Plein Air Painting - Painting during twilight
Painting during twilight often means the added
complication of using artificial lights to illuminate your canvas.

This blog has been adapted from an article written by Allison Malafronte.

Plein air painting during twilight is exciting but challenging. The lighting conditions change so rapidly and the landscape looks totally different all of a sudden. During this time of gloaming (vocab bonus points!), the moon casts light and shadows on objects below it, just like the sun does. But there’s more atmosphere below the moon as it rises than there is over top of it, so the light from it will be brighter, bluer, and cooler than during the daytime.

When you are painting outside during twilight, you’ll likely need to introduce artificial lights into your process in order to shed light on your canvas, literally. Any lamps you use, you’ll want to angle them down roughly 45 degrees to prevent the light from bouncing back in your eyes.

Artist Thomas Van Stein, an expert nocturne painter, recommends changing the bulbs in any flashlights or book lights you use every two hours. The lights will usually start to dim after this length of time, and that can lead you to unconsciously strain your eyes. Van Stein also always neutralizes the warm book lights he uses with a blue gel, though his palette warms up as a result.

Related Posts:


Plein Air Painting Blog
Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

One thought on “Twilight Painting en Plein Air–No Vampires, Please

  1. One of my favorite ways to plein air. I wish I knew more people in my area to do this in a group outing. The gathering beautifully depicted in the painting looks like so much fun!