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The Light of the Moon

15 Jan 2014

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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Comments

on 9 Feb 2014 6:16 AM

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. :-)

on 9 Feb 2014 6:17 AM

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. :-)