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
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.
|Twilight Moon by Isaac Levitan, 1899.
|Silence by Isaac Levitan, 1898.
|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
- James Abbot McNeill Whistler
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--John and Ann