Thursday, March 17, 2011

Painting Nocturnes

Nocturne, 12x16, acrylic on linen panel, Jan Blencowe copyright 2011

I suppose technically I could have called this one a "sunset" painting if I wanted to, but in my mind the sun had already set and night had fallen over the land except for that small sliver of orange in the far distance, qualifying it as a nocturne. 

Nocturnes are difficult to paint but so evocative and mysterious. There' a hush that's almost audible when you see a really well done nocturne. If you're outdoors and watch the sunset and then walk home as darkness sets in you know that there's a particular and peculiar sensation you experience as the world of light and color slips into ambiguous dusk, and finally mystical twilight as the first stars appear in the sky.

I know that I have climbed to the top of Meigs Point to watch the sunset over the Long Island Sound many times and set off walking back to my car dawdling along the way as I watch the world transform as it is shrouded by the darkness and marveled as the daisies and Queen Anne's Lace seem to have an unearthly glow as their whiteness reflects the last dying rays of light in the sky and fire flies twinkle and crickets chirrup. I meander along until I realize that I'm in danger of being locked in the park, which closes at sunset and then I end up speeding along, race walking as if childhood fears and anxieties that hide in the darkness were pursuing me.
All of those experiences are parts of this painting.

In a low light situation expressing so much with a limited value range, limited colors and a necessary ambiguity to convey the gloaming (Poetic twilight or dusk, I love this antiquated word!)) one needs to work slowly and with great sensitivity to each subtle change of tone, hue and brushstroke.

Nocturnes are not necessarily a popular subject when it comes to sales. I think they only appeal to the right kind of person. Someone with an innate sensitivity and a poets heart. I certainly love them and am always drawn to them when I see them. Maybe you feel the same!


Joan Cole said...

Gorgeous painting, Jan!

Pen Brady said...

This is a remarkable painting and the name, in my opinion, is absolutely perfect.