Saturday, September 27, 2008

plein air nocturnes

A bunch of us on the Maine trip went back out at night and painted some nocturnes.
Down by the Marshall Point Lighthouse seemed to be the place where most of that went on. It was pretty dark and not many street lights, but well lit by moonlight. That made the light pretty nice.
I have been wanting to try a nocturne painting for a long time, so I was psyched that the others were up for it too.
I had a clip on book light that I attached to my Open Box. Eric Merrell had a great idea where he taped some wax paper over his book light to diffuse the light a bit. I just put a piece of paper towel on mine and it did the same thing.
I was surprised how well I could judge the colors with just that little light that was shining on both the painting and palette.
I pre mixed all of my colors on my palette first to compare and adjust them to each other. Then I put them on the panel pretty quickly.

"Nocturne Shoreline", 6" x 8" oil on linen, Frank Gardner © 2008

This one was along the shoreline with a two lone lights at a house in the trees. This was my first nocturne ever.

"Nocturne Shed", 8" x 6" oil on linen, Frank Gardner © 2008

From the same spot I painted this little shed near the lighthouse.

"Nocturne Rocks", 6"x 8" oil on linen, Frank Gardner © 2008

This last one was of some waves crashing on the rocks. This one is pretty simple, but I like how it came out.
The pre mixing really helped me to keep my values in check. I also tried to remember that you don't really see to much detail at night and resisted the temptation to throw in too much.


Anonymous said...

Hey Frank, these came out really nice. It was great fun painting nocturnes out there. I don't think I got to see these while I was there - there was so much work done that you lose track after awhile.

Looks like we had pretty good timing - Hurricane Kyle seems headed toward Port Clyde...

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

These are really cool! I've never tried to paint at night but sounds like fun and I like the effect. It's amazing that just a little light will make such a difference.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Eric. The nocturnes were real fun. Wish I had had the energy to get out and do a few more.

Yeah, there were tons of paintings scattered all over the house.

I was thinking the same thing today watching the track of that storm. It's heading right for where we were.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Rhonda. You can get clip on lights in any book store. You should give it a try some time.
Some of the guys used head lamps, but I think that that would get in your eyes and the light moving back and forth would bug me.

Anonymous said...

The timing on this is perfect! I'm going to paint a nocturne tomorrow night and I was wondering how others are doing it. The book light tip sounds perfect!

Your results are wonderful, thanks for sharing them.


Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Karen.
Best of luck with your nocturne painting.

virtualjourney said...

Fascinating - thanks for the tip. Must experiment with this some time.

Anonymous said...

Hey Frank,

I still love how these came out. I'm bummed I never got out to paint at night with you guys, but I'm going to give it a try on my own one of these days. The first one of yours is a real beauty.

Hurricane Kyle will hit us this afternoon, but I think the worst is headed towards eastern Maine and Canada. It's a good day to stay inside and hang out in the studio.

Christine Mercer-Vernon said...

hi frank, these really did turn out nice, such a different palette of colors to see you work in. i really like these, in particular the can really see the subtle moonlight in this one. i've often thought about painting at night, but we have so many mosquito's around here (weird phobia i have)...

what a very cool trip to go on, i think someone needs to organize an all girls trip...

Theresa Rankin said...

Lively brushwork and great color choice. Book light? Duh, of course! Thanks for passing that one along. A few of us here tried nocturnes...and ended up using camping lanterns. A little clumsy and we had trouble adjusting the light.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Julie. Yes, try one sometime.

Thanks Colin, I wish we had gone out again to paint at night. Would have liked to see how yours came out.
Good luck with that rain. I am glad we are not all sitting around looking out the windows, even though we had the option for models.

Thanks Christine. It is always good to shake up the colors a bit.
Mosquitos are kind of a pain. There were not too many with the ocean breeze.

Hi Theresa, The book light would work a lot better than a lantern. It keeps the light just on the painting and palette and does not affect to scene you are trying to paint. There was a big moon that lit up the sky, so that helped.

Anonymous said...

Frank- I really love the way the shed shows that purple cast of night time light. I'm guessing that painting at night is similar to squinting in that you see mass and value and edit out the details.

I'll try that pre-mix suggestion- puts you in the " go " position and no need to get hung up on prep.

Wonderful, adventurous series here.
Maybe another benefit of painting with a group- you stoke each others' creative flames.

PS- glad you got out before Kyle.
We were dumped on last week to the tune of 10 inches of rain for two solid days. Now it's mosquito central!

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

They all read 'nighttime'.
Nice work.

Anonymous said...

Oh yummy!
I'm not at all surprised you had color discernment in the dark - you pay so much attention to, and have practiced values that that darker values couldn't confound your eyes!!!
The two lights in the distance in the first one - perfect! That painting is SO what it's like when walking the shore at night! - like the eyes physically reach out of the head to pull in the surroundings! Perfectly indicated!

And, that luminous shed! I'm always amazed at the reflective quality of night time. The glowiness of it all!

And the waves on the rocks - what a great way to represent that! I LOVE that!

Very honored to be viewing a first venture - the nocturne adventure! More are surely to come!

Thanks as always!!!

Jennifer Bellinger said...

Hey Frank, I love these nocturnes! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Thanks for the tip on lighting your panel and palette. This idea of nocturnes takes the scare out of sunsets, too. If the light goes too fast, just wait a bit for the moon and keep painting!

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Bonnie. The masses do get simplified at night. At least until you start staring into them. I tried to keep it simple and soften edges as much as I could. I was really just hoping to get good color out of it.
I was pleasantly surprised when I got them back to the house.
The group did help stoke the fire.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Mary!

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Solveg.
I appreciate all of what you said about these.
Yes, I am sure there will be a few more of these in the future.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Jennifer. I think the nocturnes are easier than a sunset painting. At sunset the light changes so quickly.

Jennifer Thermes said...

Wow Frank, these are really dramatic. And I know exactly where you were-- it's a beautiful spot. :-)

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Jennifer, Thanks.
I thought that you might know some of these places. Have you ever been over to Monhegan? Good light out there.

Jennifer Thermes said...

Yes, Monhegan's beautiful. We went out for a day with the kids and hiked around a few years ago. In the forest there were all these tiny sorts of houses built with twigs and stones-- people were calling them fairy houses. Have you ever seen them? It was enchanting!

Frank Gardner said...

Jennifer, no I did not see those little houses. I wish I had. I'll be going back for sure, maybe to spend a few days out there. I'll be sure to look for them.

Bill Sharp said...

Frank, what an amazing way to spend a vacation. I love the nocturnes, especially the last one. I like the rawness of it. Lots of beautiful new work here.

Frank Gardner said...

It was a "Business Trip" Bill, not a vacation. ha ha
Thanks, and I'm glad to hear a vote for that last one.

Anonymous said...

Frank, wish I'd gotten here sooner to see these nocturnes. Excellent work! I agree with Bill Sharp, I like the rock in the surf one a lot. The colors look so right on all three.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Silvina, thanks. I was wondering if you had been back to see these.
Jeremy posted his nocturne on his blog too.

How is the class with Eric Merrell going?

Stephen Magsig said...

"Nocturne Shoreline" is just stunning, what a great idea. I must get out and try that. How different was the color and values from looking at night and the next day?
Anyway beautiful work, wish I could have been there. I read where Vincent Van Gogh painted at night with a candle on his hat brim.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Stephen, It is good to hear from you again.
Actually, what I mixed up was closer to what I saw than what I had feared. I was trying to see if I could just get close, and I ended up thinking that I did a pretty good job.
I use a limited palette, and the colors are always in the same spot. I am very used to mixing with them and I think that helped.
They looked about how I had hoped once I got them back to the house.

I have heard that about Van Gogh and it is depicted in one of the movies I think.
With the steady wind up there in Maine would have had hot wax all over my face : O