Sunday, September 14, 2008

Harvest Moon Paintings

Harvest Moon, 6x8, oil SOLD

Luminary of the Autumn Night Sky, 30x40, oil
on loan to the US Embassy in Honduras

Moonlit Path, 9x12, oil

The widget in the sidebar tells me that tonight is the full moon, of course looking out the window tells me the same thing LOL. The Farmer's Almanac names the full moon in September the Harvest Moon... This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night by the light of this Moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice the chief Indian staples are now ready for gathering.

Here are a few other interesting notes from the Farmers Almanac for today:

Holy Cross Day is one of four annual markers for the "Ember Days," which occur on the first Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following Holy Cross Day, Whit Sunday (Pentecost), the first Sunday in Lent, and St. Lucy Day. The Ember Days are special times for prayer, fasting, and the ordination of clergy in the Catholic and Anglican churches. The weather on each of the three Ember Days is supposed to foretell the weather for each of the three succeeding months. For example, the Ember Day of Wednesday, September 17, will forecast the weather for October; Friday, September 19, will forecast the weather for November; and Saturday, September 20, will forecast the weather for December.

Of course as a landscape painter I'm always interested in the weather and light and its effect on the landscape. As a plein air painter/impressionist I'm also fascinated by the prospect of capturing time/the passage of time in my paintings. Though a lot of plein air painters like to say they are capturing a "particular time and place" that can only be meant in the broadest sense when it comes to time. It is the camera that can capture a single instant of time, the video that can capture a linear sequence of time but it is only the artist who can become part of time. While painting outdoors the artist is working for several hours recording many distinct moments of time (and the related light and weather conditions) simultaneously in one painting. The image becomes an amalgam of the best, most interesting moments that pass before the artists eye, hence the uniqueness of a painting as opposed to a photo. Fine art photography relies on other artistic devices for its uniqueness, point of view, crop, narrative etc. and often a host of technical tools available to the adept photographer. But paintings come about in a more organic way and rely on the artists eye and hand to record the unfolding of time causing the painting to take on a kalediascope effect.

I own a lovely little book call As Long as the Moon Shall Rise, reflections on the full moon,

which offers this hakiu

Harvest Moon

So brilliant a moonshine:

if ever I am born again...

a hill top pine


and this more traditional poem, in celebration of the harvest moon.


A touch of cold in the Autumn night-

I walked abroad,

And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge

Like a red-faced farmer.

I did not stop to speak, but nodded,

And round about were the wistful stars

With white faces like town children.

T.E. Hulme

This wonderful book also delights with this painting Cornfield by Moonlight, with Evening Star by Samuel Palmer , which is in the British Museum. It alone should make you want to buy this book!

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