Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nocturnes and Civil Twilight

"Hilltop Nocturne" 8x10, oil

I've got a whole boxful of paintings from my two recent workshops that I'd like to blog about. However, they're still too wet for the scanner. In the meantime, here is a nocturne that I did one evening at the Goffstown (NH) workshop. It is just barely dry enough to scan.

Several blogging artists have written about nocturnes lately. This inspired Pat LaBrecque and me - Pat's the maker of the Art Cocoon - to try our hand at capturing the full moon one evening.

I hopped on the Internet Highway and looked up the moonrise time. I also looked up the end of what's called "civil twilight." If you want to do nocturnes right, you need to have either a good headlamp or booklight. We had neither. So, we had to rely on natural light. One definition of "civil twilight" is that time after sunset when useful work can be done without artificial illumination. It lasts about 30 minutes - not long in which to paint a nocturne!

To my disappointment, I determined that civil twilight would have already ended by the time the moon rose over the treetops. I had to give up the idea of painting a harvest moon. Instead, I went for the last rays of the setting sun playing over the hills. Still, it was a magical moment.

(By the way, I wrote an article on painting nocturnes in The Artist's Magazine a few years ago. Click here to read it.)


Poppy Balser said...

Michael this painting is beautiful! Nice soft warm end of the day light.

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thank you, Poppy!

Susan Renee Lammers said...

It is fun painting at night. I like your civil twilight painting. Now I know what that term means. Thank you!

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks, Renee!