Thursday, July 16, 2020

Seven Tips for Painting Moonlight

Here are seven tips for painting landscapes in moonlight:
1. Use cool, grayish colors.
2. Reduce chroma.
3. Unify Shadows.
4. Make them nearly opaque.
5. But don't go too dark overall.
6. Use warm accent lights for contrast.
7. Trust your memory more than photos.
More in Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter, 224 pages, softcover, 9 x 10.5 inches. Purchase on Amazon or signed, directly from me.


Adam Rex said...

I remember seeing an NC Wyeth once where he rendered moonlight with a dry, patchy scumbling of color. It seemed to me he was trying to simulate the "grain" of low-light vision. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Thom Rozendaal said...

Interesting points, makes me want to experiment with doing a moonlight painting. Is the image one of your paintings?

James Gurney said...

Hey, Adam, love your work. I wasn't aware of that quality of NC Wyeth's moonlight scenes, but it makes sense that the color receptors might fire randomly, creating that effect of grainy low light vision.

Adam Rex said...

I'm pretty sure the one I was remembering was this:;jsessionid=D3B224EDF7C07D0DF23255338F35989D?ctx=77d2dd94-41c1-4677-8487-d2e94e2cad65&idx=1

It's not actually as grainy as I remember.

Steve Gilzow said...

Frederic Remington’s nocturnes are a source of inspiration in their quantity and quality.

jeckert55 said...

Excellent subject, and really beautiful work. Someday I want to paint the salt formations around Mono Lake, CA. That would keep me busy for years.

Christoffer Gertz Bech said...

These tips don't only apply to moonlight - I'd say they are also useful for scenes set in a moonless night.

As for night scenes, I think an artist who is worth studying is Ken Marschall, who is famous for his depictions of Titanic (the sinking happened on a moonless night). It is also interesting to compare his paintings with stills from James Cameron's movie - that is a good lesson in the differences between what a camera can and what can be done in paint.