Happy Winter Solstice! In the Northern Hemisphere, on this day we experience the fewest hours of sunlight in the year. What better way to celebrate the “shortest day” than with an award-winning Nocturne Painting?! (Meanwhile, down south, our Southern Hemisphere-ers are enjoying the day with the most hours of sunshine!)
Christine Debrosky captured the Best Nocturne Prize in October’s PleinAir Salon with this painting:
Let’s hear what Christine has to say about the inspiration for this winning nocturne.
“The Southwestern rainy season; late summer is marked by very dramatic clouds, skies, and sometimes brief turbulent thunderstorms. We live on a hill and I can see storms that are over 20 miles away. That’s particularly exciting and inspiring at night.
Very often, I will have my sketchbook, and make note of the light, bright spots. Most of the time, I sit and observe the subtle colour shifts, the nature of the lightning, and the inner electric glow in the massive cloud formations.
I lay in big dark masses with broad strokes. It was important to know where the house twinkles were going to go, so the pastel was applied lightly in this area near the bottom.
I used some dark iridescent pigment in some of the upper cloud areas and also in the cloud layer where the lightning originated from. The rainy area was applied with a bluer pastel, in small feathery strokes. The small house lights and the faint stars high up above were carefully placed last. House lights and stars are not white…they have some colour. The main thing was to keep the values close enough and dark enough without going too dark.
This piece was painted mostly from memory, with just some sketch notes. It was difficult to get things down in just the way that I observed them.”
I asked Christine if she had another nocturne or two to share with us. Oh yes!! And here they are.
This one was also created from long observation and memory in the studio. I went out one moonlit night up on my roof deck and just watched the clouds drifting and parting across the full moon’s face. My plein air work in painting clouds really helped on this one. A magical time!
I did this plein air painting while we had some wildfire activity in our area. I took my pastels out at dusk and started working while I could still make out the major shapes. The colour of the rising moon was a fiery red from the smoke. Fortunately, the flames were not close.
This painting was done from a quick sketch while observing the view from my patio one night. The next morning, I painted mostly from my study of what I saw and from memory. I find it very difficult to go out with pastels when it is fully dark, as I prefer not to use artificial illumination. I would have no idea what I was reaching for!”
I asked Christine if she had anything else to say about her nocturne paintings.
“ My nocturnes are about being still and watching and dreaming.“
Speaking of Nocturne Painting Awards…
Aaron Schuerr, who won the Best Plein Air Pastel in October’s Plein Air Salon, also took home an Honourable Mention for his nocturne painting, Laguna Lights.
“I have an easel lamp, so I can paint long into the night. I had initially intended to start on an oil painting, but realized I had left my palette at my last painting location, so I grabbed my pastel setup and got to work.
It took two nights to finish this one – probably six hours or so. Laguna Beach at night is magical. City lights glow on the water and give shape to the hills. The hardest part of painting a nocturne on location is you really don’t know what you’ve got till you see it in daylight.
I was tempted to clean it up before framing it, but I decided I liked the rough energy of the pastel strokes, so I left it alone. The best part of painting Laguna Lights was that I had the company of other artists each night, and we laughed a lot. There’s something ridiculous about painting by easel lamp. It takes a certain kind of crazy to try. Maybe it’s just that we are punch-drunk from painting such long days! This painting is available at Huse Skelly Gallery in Balboa Island, CA.”
You could have a winning painting in the next PleinAir Salon! You still have time to enter before the end of the year. There are sooooo many categories to choose from – have a look at them all HERE!
Thanks to our two winners for their beautiful nocturne paintings on this Winter Solstice! And yay, that means lighter days are coming! (Well for us Northerners anyway….)
And that’s it for this time!