Tuesday, November 25, 2008

From the Porch, 8"x6" (Sold)

Ever since I saw Marc Hanson' nocturnes a year ago, I decided I had to try painting night scenes. This is the third of them so far. The sketching and note taking about colors and highlights was done from my porch, the rest was done in the studio.
I was so tempted to emphasize the catalpa seed pods on the top right but given the size of this painting I decided against it. I'll leave them to your imagination.

While taking notes I was wondering, why is it that night paintings represent a small percentage of what we see in galleries or online, when this time of day seems, at least to me, so full of magic, romance, and mystery? Is it that artists think there is not much color around at night, or is it a matter of not knowing how to go about it?

Go outside tonight and observe. You'll see colors even if there is no moon. They are there, just different. Look at something that is white in daylight and ask yourself what would you call that color now. Certainly painting becomes a challenge because we see larger masses, and composition might require more careful thought, but leaving this aspect aside, I'm inclined to think it's really a matter of not knowing how to proceed. My suggestion is to sketch and observe! Some artist use head lamps to paint outdoors. I haven't tried that yet, but in the mean time, I'll rely on observation.


Donna Van Tuyl said...

Hi Adriana, I love your painting. The values and colors are just right and the painting is harmonious. I just returned from a vacation to Kauai and was usually up before the sun. I sat outside observing color and value. We had a full moon and I thought about how to go about painting what I observed. Maybe paintings of night are rare becasue it would be so difficult to get a photo? Just a thought. You have inspired me to give it a try.

Adriana Meiss said...

Hi Donna, thanks for checking. I think you are right about the difficulty of getting night photographs. In a way is awful how much we rely on photographs in order to paint. It's like we are going backwards. When I look at the American landscapes done before photography existed, I cannot help wondering how those guys did it considering the amount of detail they included.

Just out of curiosity, I would love to see your way of paintings scenes other than the north west. You have such a distinct palette that I do not know if I would recognize your painting of another location as being yours.

Donna Van Tuyl said...

Hi Adriana. I am not sure if my palette would change much in different locations. Where I live it goes from dry desert to high alpine mountains. I look at many paintings by other artists and one of my favorites is Scott Christensen. His Hawaii paintings are beautiful, as are his Colorado paintings, however to me his palette is distinct.


Deborah Secor said...

Very nice painting, Adriana! I love painting night scenes, too. There is so much beauty to whatever light is shining, and of course it's still all about the light.

I think part of the reason we don't see as many nocturnes in galleries is that with pastels under glass too many people find themselves facing a mirror! Dark paintings framed with regular glass make checking make-up easy...so I suggest that you frame them with AR glass at least.

Your blog is terrific and I'm adding it to my favorites. Thanks for linking me here, too! :)

Have fun!

Adriana Meiss said...

Deborah, I never thought about the reflecting glass being the possible reason at least in pastels, but if you consider other mediums, we still do not see that many night scenes.
Thank for the suggestion of the AR glass; will definitely keep that in mind next time!

Cat-in-a-Box said...

Beautiful - you've captured the mood just right! I agree - I think night is beautiful and so often not regarded. Have you done any winter night scenes?

Adriana Meiss said...

Hi Pam, No, I haven't done night winter scenes yet. I'm still kicking myself for not having taken color notes on a recent sunset, right after we had the first snowfall of the season. I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities soon.
Thank for checking!

Donna T said...

There is just something so quiet and peaceful about nighttime scenes. This is so restful, Adriana, and you inspire me to at least take notes and think about the possibility of trying a nocturne. It seems kind of a shame to deprive ourselves of the moody paintings that low light can provide.

Adriana Meiss said...

Donna, I agree.
For me, painting night scenes has been a progression. My first one was a daytime photo of a pond from the Wet Canvas reference library. I looked at the colors Marc Hanson used in his night scenes, and then used my imagination to figure out where the shadows should be, etc. Because I wanted a full moon in the scene, I had to look at other sources for reference to make sure my moon reflection was believable in the water. My second night scene was also from a day time reference, but for that one I paid more attention to the colors of the night sky.
For my next one, which will probably be another view from my porch, I'm planning on having the main shapes already sketched out so that I don't have to spend time worrying about composition when the right time comes.