Saturday, October 30, 2010

First Nocturne


Riverfront Park, 6 x 8, oils on hardboard

The original definition for "nocturne" was a piece of music evoking the evening. James Whistler named several of his paintings nocturnes and so now we can apply it to the visual arts as well. I've always liked them and have wanted to do my own, especially from life. This is a trick to do and the traditional way is to use spelunkers headlamps. I could tell that wasn't going to work for me so I came up with my own setup using two booklights clipped to the top of my easel. One has a tungsten bulb and the other two LED lights. This gives me balanced light and makes it so that my hand doesn't cast a shadow on the palette or painting. My daughter (and good luck charm) Annie joined me for my first effort down at the Berkley Riverfront Park in Kansas City. We found an old industrial building that loads and unloads railroad cars with the Broadway Bridge and lights of KCK in the background. We started painting after the sun was down but while there was still a bit of color in the western sky and when we finished about an hour later all we could see was city lights and their reflections on the water. You can't tell for sure what your painting looks like until you bring it into the light later but somehow the colors all held together. This was really fun and I plan to do more.