Since the days are so short here in Zagreb (and I’m losing my mornings to language classes), I’ve been trying my hand at plein air nocturnes lately.
The Bar at Zvijezda (2011). 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Last winter I tried one nocturne of the small bar around the corner from my house. The idea was to sketch the composition in pencil and then begin the lay-in on site. However, for the bulk of the work I had the painting elsewhere and, in the evenings, I would stop and try to memorized the view and then paint later from memory. It was like sight-sizing from a block away. The idea was based on the quote by Degas about memory drawing:
“If I were to open an academy I would have a five-story building. The model would pose on the ground floor with the first-year students. The most advanced students would work on the fifth floor.”
This year I’m more prepared. These new clip-on LED lights work very well, and have a much cooler light than the ones you could buy, years ago, when I last tried plein air landscape painting at night. The brand I’m using is Mighty Bright from Santa Barbara, CA and I have the two pronged ones they make for orchestra conductors. (Edit: As Jerry Campbell commented, these lights can be slightly blue. I also found myself compensating to knock down the oranges. Pushing the light right up to the canvas warms it up a bit, but if anyone one has a suggestion for a more neutral plein-air-at-night lighting solution, I’d love to hear it).
My set-up for nocturnes.
A second set of lights would be great as I don’t get enough light consistently across the panels and have to move the light to where I’m working.
Painting in the snow at night can be really cold. I wrote a post last winter on keeping warm, which you can read here.
Zagreb Cathedral Nocturne #1. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.
Zagreb Cathedral Nocturne #2. 30 x 20, oil on panel (unfinished).
The Central Train Station at Night. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
More to come. In the meantime, here are a couple more from the heavy snows we’ve had this month in Zagreb.
Winter, Britanski Trg. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Mirogoj in the Snow. 30 x 40 cm, oil on panel.
Steps of the HNK. 30 x 20 cn, oil on panel.
Ulica A.G. Matoša. 28 x 18 cm, oil on panel.