A Nocturne

Nocturne (sketch). 8 x 10. Oil on linen panel.

Nocturne (sketch). 8 x 10. Oil on linen panel.


Several years ago I spent an evening with my family on an old wooden pier after an afternoon sail on the bay. It was a relief to escape the hot city, savor the cool, moist air and hear the waves lapping against the shoreline. A majestic moon rose and cast gold and silver reflections that danced on the water. We sat in silence and treasured the time we spent together.

In the last several weeks, I have been studying with master artist Deborah Paris, learning how to portray the fleeting moments of dawn, sunset and moonrise, and how the different lighting conditions affect the landscape. One of the most important things an artist can understand is how light affects form, mood, and colors. One needs to know if the light is coming from the left, right or--as in this case--from the moon in the center of the painting. The light can be brilliant or playful, gloomy or evocative, warm or cool. As an artist, I need to decide before I begin a painting what kind of light will be portrayed.

In this nocturne, the details are minimized, and the sky is glazed with blue and viridian green. The moon is the color of champagne--cool white with a touch of warm Naples Yellow. The scene is intimate. The trees are glazed with soft purple, green and blue to give depth and richness. I hope this painting reminds you of your favorite moonlit night.

If you would like to see several examples of how light affects a painting, I hope you will look at the Salon Show at The Gallery at Round Top. There a couple of my own pieces on display, and many other fine paintings as well.

Thank you for letting me visit with you about lighting in art.

-Mallory Agerton

PS: This painting ended up being a sketch for a larger work, "Moonlight in Brazos Bend," which you can view in my portfolio here.