Painting in Maine: Clark Island Moonrise

Painting in Maine: Clark Island Moonrise


Clark Island moonrise, plein air painting

Renowned artist Don Demers stayed with us at the house the week of his workshop. The night of the full moon he invited us to paint with him and his students by the Craignair Inn on Clark Island.

Last year I stayed with friends Naomi and Steve who have twenty acres nearby overlooking the Atlantic. In appreciation I painted a foggy picture of the quay where the quarry workers used to load tall ships with granite from the quarries on the island. Mary and I stopped in to see them and their herd of dogs.

When the sun began setting we headed down to the causeway to join Don and his students to paint. Before the moon rose, for a few moments, aqua and pink bands of light wove themselves through the water.

In plein air painting, especially at sunrise and sunset, you have to make a decision and stick to it. Its easy to get seduced by the rapidly changing colors and chase the light all over your canvas.

As the moon rose the sky became darker and the color faded from the water. I was still roughing in my shapes and the way I saw it, I had two choices. Keep to the first effect and the color or make the sky darker and emphasize the moonlight. Now, in the back of mind, I’m often thinking of translating these plein air pieces into egg tempera paintings. Which is a whole different way of working than with oil paint.

Emphasizing the moonlight would make a more dramatic plein air painting, but I was holding that beautiful earlier color in my mind and thinking how I could layer it in the translucent tones of tempera. Pulling the color up into the sky and toning it down into pearly grays around the moon. I love playing with subtle warm and cool temperature and opacity shifts in tempera.

Meanwhile, mosquitoes were coming out, first small ones starting biting me, then their parents came, found the pickings good and invited the whole clan to the feast. They were swarming all over my face so much, I could hardly see. Mary, had sprayed some natural repellent on me which the mosquitoes mistook as a condiment. Next time give me some go0d old fashion toxic DEET.

This painting and a couple of others are posted on my Daniel Ambrose Studio Facebook page.

If you haven’t already done so, I would appreciate you adding it to your “Likes.” In the near future, I’m thinking of giving some free stuff as incentives to spreading the word about my work.

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