Left in the Dark by Wilson Bickford


I recently conducted an oil painting class which focused on a night-time seascape theme. Rendering night scenes is always challenging, as colors diminish and things take on a more monochromatic feel. The issue is to get the scene dark enough to convey that particular time of the day, but not so dark that it literally becomes lost. In reality, some nights are pitch black and some are still quite light. It takes a lot of "judging" of the values to pull it off convincingly.

I find it easier to establish my mid-tone first and I use that value to "tone" my whole canvas. This sets the stage for the lights and darks I will apply which will straddle either side of that mid-tone.

Painting is all about value contrasts and I make sure that I still get a broad range. (Note the lightness of the moon and sea foam compared to the rocks.) However, the middle values are much "closer" together and vary only slightly. This is the key to capturing that night-time mood.

I have found that these "moonlit" themes seem to strike a certain chord with viewers and consequently, they are good sellers. By a large margin, most landscapes are portrayed during the daytime hours, so perhaps a moonscape's appeal lies in the fact that it's different. If you're strictly a "daytime" painter, don't be afraid to catch "full moon fever" and try one of these.

Just watch out for werewolves!

Comments (2) -

nan whitley

hey i have a ? Wilson im 17 and i like to draw and paint but im no good i've been trying to draw and paint for two years but im not geting any better and every time i show my mom my art she says its not that great but i thought it wasnt that bad im starting to think im never going to get better at drawing/painting but i want to
i paint acrylic and im starting watercolor i draw in charcoal and soft pastels and pen and i draw or paint something at lest once a day but im not getting any better why is that please help me love nan


Hi Wilson

I just commented on one of your first painting on another page. It was a cool mountain scene.  I'm so glad I found you had another post with a recent painting.  And what a painting it is!  Its awesome.  Your right too about most paintings are done with daylight.   Now I know why.  Night scenes would be harder.  It makes sense about the differences in values.

I find this painting so moving and love it.  I could see where it would be a challenge to do.  I wish you lived near me so I could take one of your classes.  I could easily see it being a good seller at any time.. but especially with all the Twilight werewolf movies out there right now .  Grin...

Cheers!  Dot

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