It doesn’t get dark at 4:30 pm anymore. Now that it’s warmer it gets dark at 8 pm. I went out the other night and painted the full moon as it was rising over my neighborhood. I like painting in the dark in warmer weather, the paint behaves nicely. You should try it, you might just like it! It’s nice painting outdoors at night with the melodic chorus of distant peepers floating on the evening breeze. It feels like a very hopeful new beginning. It really is Spring!
Promise yourself that you’re going to get outdoors to sketch and paint. It will be a gift to yourself. It has been raining a lot lately (April showers!) so you can paint in your car or dash out to sketch in between showers.
I fit the sketching and painting into my day after all my class prep work is done. My online classes are such a welcome break to this current isolation. It is fun to see, talk and paint with everyone.
The days have been a nonstop blur for me since mid-March when we all had to stop meeting in public places. I hustled to get my 3 weekly classes transformed into online classes. For my first online class I had only one day’s notice that our classroom was closed. It was a scramble to set up and figure out how the platform worked. I did it, and now we are in full swing!
I know some of you are working full time, but some of you have time available that you’ve never had before. If you do have open time I hope you are taking full advantage of this rare opportunity to do things that you’ve been wanting to do .
This morning the temps were in the teens at 7:00 am and 35 by noon. A perfect late winter day. It was gorgeous! I headed over to the York River after our errands in York Village were finished. A friend came by to sketch with me . Good company and spring weather made it feel like a party.
It’s late February and I could have hung out in a lawn chair in the toasty sunshine. That is as long as I stayed out of the wind. The tide was going out the entire time we were there. We parked the car with the nose headed up stream and I stood behind it with my easel. It was perfectly wind free in the spot behind my car.
For me the big challenge was there was no snow along the river. They had a rain storm here last week while we had a snow & ice event at home. No luscious blue shadows anywhere. I had to hang for a bit and look around at the midday light on a brownish landscape. See how spoiled I am? With sharp blue water, dusty ocher marsh grass and inky green pines this scene would be drop dead gorgeous to anyone else wandering upon it. And I’m looking for patches of snow!
Truth is there were a ton of things to choose to paint. Its just that I’m emerging from of a month of nocturne painting and my mind is still thinking about soft, dim landscapes. Maybe instead of going out so early in the day to paint I need to paint more of that nocturne series. We change the clocks in 15 more days. I might be the only person dreading that. These nice early sunsets help me keep my work day shorter.
It was a nice warm night. I went out and set up my easel in my back yard near my studio. I looked at the cluster of houses across the field. I started painting them and the different lights that were on. My paints were behaving normally, flowing smoothly off the brush. It was great!
I work with a limited palette so it was very easy to grab a dark or a light and find my way with my brush around the different shapes. My headlight was getting dim. The batteries were worn out. No problem, I moved my easel closer to my studio flood lights. I just kept painting and guessed at what I was seeing.
I notice when painting in the dark it actually helps to not see very well. Hard and soft edges are easy to discern. If I can see it clearly and it is really bright it must have a hard edge. If its subtle and dim it must have a soft edge. When I paint it that way all the shapes emerge and all these lights appear. There is a beautiful mystery to it all. I liked this view of a back porch light, warmly lit windows and other random outdoor lights. I could see the different lights in the dark but I couldn’t tell you what they all belonged to ! The warm glow, the bits of scattered lights and lit windows were enough to hold my attention in the darkness.
I was able to paint more than one painting on a couple of days during my daily painting challenge in January. This painting was painted on one of those days. It was a warm evening with temps around 35 degrees.
After a full day of work again I was finding the only time I could squeeze in a painting was at dusk. I walked out into the back yard next to my studio and looked around. The neighborhood was quiet as I set up my easel. Not that I mind, dusk and evening are becoming one of my favorite times to be outside painting. This evening the neighbors had a light turned on that was right next to the window. It was shining out brightly onto the snow.
I started the painting and it occurred to me that I’d better paint a little faster, as this might not last long. Bingo, a few minutes after I had this thought they turned off the light. By that time I had painted it in the painting. This reminded me of all those times when I’m out painting a boat in the harbor and someone shows up and drives it away!
This past month has been a challenge. Not just to paint every day but to fit in time to paint into a day full of dozens of other deadlines. I managed to do it this past month. I scheduled painting and blogging into my day ever day. I have completed this challenge of painting 31 paintings in 31 days in the past . I have painted 100 paintings in 100 days. But I’ve never shown them to an audience every day nor have I written about the daily experience of painting. Writing about painting every day was a real eye opener. I remembered more about my experience as I was writing about it immediately after I finished the painting.
This past month I noticed I made some big changes with how I painted and what I painted. Temperatures in the single digits forced me to use different mediums, different brushes and a different substrate. I started the month with linen panels and after very cold temperatures made my oil paint act like concrete, I didn’t touch linen again the rest of the month. I continued with oil paint, changed my substrate to mat board,multimedia board, canvas panels or gesso board. I changed my brushes to medium and soft synthetics. I used OMS and just straight oil paint, no medium. I painted at dusk or after dark when compositions were really interesting. Then things really began to come together nicely. So nicely that on some days I painted more than one painting.
The painting Dusk Lights is from one of those days when things were going so well I painted another painting after the first one was finished.
A while back the month of January used to be a quiet month, a pause from the intensity of my summer and fall schedule. Now I’m pretty much in the thick of it all year. Still, I wanted to do this 31 day challenge as I knew it would be an opportunity to get into a daily painting schedule and try out new materials, new tools and new paints !
Again today was a busy day, just as it has been all month during this 31 paintings in 31 days challenge. I was away all day and arrived home around sunset. Nothing was looking particularly interesting at dusk so I set up and waited for it to get dark. It was warm, calm and quiet with thin clouds covering the sky. The lights started to come on in the houses in the neighborhood. I watched and painted a cluster of house lights glowing in the dark. The painting was finished before I knew it.
Tonight is the last night of my 31 day painting schedule! It’s liberating and a bit sad at the same time. I want to go out and paint often, like I did this month.These daily painting sessions afforded me precious moments of peace and tranquility everyday no matter how busy my day was. I was out there breathing the fresh air and fully focused, enjoying some quiet time painting.
If you see a painting posted that you like in my preceding 30 blogs, today is the last day to take one of these little gems home for the special January prices listed. They will all change to regular pricing tomorrow on February 1, 2020. Contact me ASAP.
It might be because this is the 30th day of painting with only one more to go, but I broke loose and surprised myself today. As usual It was another day full of things that had to be tended to. I was out and about all day and by late afternoon, when I was originally planning to paint, the light didn’t look very interesting.
So when I got home I worked in the studio until after 5, then went out to look around as it got dark. I walked into the back yard and looked toward my studio. It was all lit up like a birthday cake, light was pouring out of the windows. In the dark blue sky just above the studio rooftop Venus was peeking down at me. High up overhead was the crescent moon all wrapped in a misty layer of light.
I grabbed my easel, and placed a tall vertical panel on it. I wasn’t planning on painting a picture of my studio and the moon. t was just that kind of night. The sky was this lovely deep blue, the air was still and quiet and the stars were twinkling. Distant planes flashed their lights across the sky. I could hear a girl singing and laughing in her back yard across the field. It felt like a chilly spring night. And I was in the right place at the right time.
Little did I think this afternoon that I was going to get home so late from running errands. I pulled into my driveway after 5pm. It was dark enough to know I had missed all the last light and dusk views.
Then, as I was walking around the back yard checking out the different views and looking for a spot to set up my easel, I saw a brilliant star in the west. I walked up onto my back deck and saw the crescent moon shinning through the big pines trees behind the studio. By the time I had my easel, paints and brushes, the moon had climbed above the trees and was moving south west toward the bright sparkling star. This star was so bright I realized this was not a star but a planet. It was Venus. It was quiet and peaceful. No wind and the temperature was still a warm 35. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be outside painting this lovely evening as the waxing crescent moon and Venus were meeting in the sky. Last night and tonight are the only times this happens this year. What a delight!
I started painting just before the sun set this evening. I could see the houses clearly in the rapidly declining light. I knew one thing was for sure. I had to paint the structures fast before they disappeared as the light dimmed. Suddenly the overcast sky was not so gray. The sun must have found an opening in the clouds and had dropped to that spot where the light was bouncing back up into the clouds. I saw a slight pink, then a violet , then more pink and peach. It was so quick. Maybe I saw it for 3 minutes before more clouds moved back in. It was enough time for me to paint it.
I love times like this. The whole scene was warm and rosy. Cars drove up and down the street and people parked cars into their driveways. I could see headlights and red tail lights at different houses here and there. Then the house lights came on and it was time for dinner.
A quick reminder! The special pricing (half price) on this 31 in 31 series of paintings ends on January 31st.
Another warm quiet day! How lucky we are that this is not a sub-zero Arctic January like last year! It started off sunny this morning, then big, gorgeous clouds swept in. Oh, I thought maybe there will be a nice sunset tonight…wrong. More and more clouds came in and it got a bit gray. So I waited till it got darker and the lights came on. When you’re painting en plein air in a short time frame you don’t always have what you expect. I can roll with it.
The focus this month is to make a painting every day. I don’t have time to jump in the car and drive around till I see something I want to paint. Instead I’m slowing down, stopping and watching. I’m waiting till the light changes and reveals what I am looking for. Plus, there is the challenge of limiting myself to my neighborhood. This is all great fun. Sometime I’m surprised when I see what I painted. Not my usual stuff. So this adventure is really delivering the goods!