Andy Quisimbing’s setup in the full moon. Ignore the lens flare.

What’s the hardest part about painting a super moon?

Margie Spalding’s nocturne

At least two dozen artists attending the Publisher’s Invitational Paint Out last week in the Adirondack Mountains decided to tackle a nocturne on the eve of a full moon — a super moon, at that — and everyone came away with new knowledge of some sort. A few artists told us that proper lighting on their palette and painting surface was the biggest challenge. Artificial light that was already in place was used by some. Headlamps and illuminating hats were in play. Some raced the setting sun and worked from what sunlight they could get.

Sandra Hildreth worked from the balcony at Paul Smith’s College’s student center. Photo by Maria Amor

 Bridgette Turner’s nocturne

Another challenge was the quickly changing natural light. A few artists blocked in the scene during the waning moments of daylight, then painted the sunset, or held out longer for a moonrise. Lucinda Howe says, “When I started around 8 p.m. the moon was already up. The light was changing so fast that I decided to divide the board into two 4 1/2 x 12-inch horizontals and to catch the change in light as the sun set rather than being tempted to continue working on the first one and mess it up. I finished in the dark around 9:30 p.m.”

“Super Moon Over World’s Best Soft Ice Cream”, by Dennis McKee, 2013, oil

Anti-bug nocturne painting chic 

Lucinda Howe’s approach to the changing light

The often surprising challenges of painting night scenes had some participants muttering things not suitable for a family website like this one. But the thrill of something new was enough to carry many. The only thing that truly chased off those game enough to give a moon painting a try was the mosquitoes.

Kevin Beck’s nocturne

Karen Hitt’s nocturne

Folks flew off in several directions to paint the moon. Some realized that painting in the field near Donnelly’s ice cream stand may not guarantee a great painting, but it would ensure the devouring of a wonderful, creamy dessert. Others stayed put at Paul Smith’s College and were rewarded by the moon and its shimmering reflection in Lower St. Regis Lake. And of course, there were artists who went out on their own to altogether different spots.

David Crowell’s setup on the student center balcony

Bruce Newman’s nocturne

Peggy Andrews’s nocturne

The next morning and after, war stories dribbled in. More than one artist expressed surprise at how his or her painting looked in daylight. Successful nocturnes were celebrated by painting peers. In the end, a new painting interest was instilled in many minds, and why not? A super moon reflected in a dark mountain lake is hard to forget.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here