Monday’s Art Class: Moonrise over the Monashees.
Here’s a photo from a couple of weeks ago, taken at SilverStar, BC. I couldnt’ resist the full moon rising over the Monashees in the distance.
Of course, I knew I had to paint this. It was on my short list, and I finished it tonight. Here’s the result:
The first thing I did was use a dime to trace a circle for the moon, and cover it with masking compound. I made sure to put the moon off-center, about one third from the right
I set the horizon about one third from the bottom, leaving two-thirds sky. When in doubt, always use the one-third/two-third rule. That makes for good composition that’s pleasing to the eye. Dunno why, but people like it.
Next, I made a wet-on-wet wash for the sky. With cadmium yellow/orange on the bottom, cerulean blue in the middle, and violet/cerulean blue on the top.
I painted in the mountains in the background, leaving some white spots, using a mixture of brown, blue and purples. It really didnt’ matter what the background was…it was just filler for the trees in the background. I added just a hint of light pink for the snow-capped mountains.
The icing on the cake was painting the trees. I used a combination of sap green, Van Dyke brown, Paynes Gray and Cobalt Blue. I chose the dark pigments to make the trees stand out from the lighter background.
I was holding my breath when I painted the thin branches at the tree tops. You do one of these wrong, you make the line too thick, you can ruin the whole painting.
Spruce trees are really fun to paint with a rigger brush, which has long and narrow bristles. They wobbles and bend as you paint, giving the branches a loose, spontaneous look.
The secret is not to overdo things. Paint what you need to, and get out. These trees probably only took ~15 minutes.
The final touch was removing the masking compound, leaving a pure white disk of the moon. That was too harsh against the violet background, so I wetted the paper, and just barely dabbed a touch of yellow onto it.
I did this twice, and it gave the moon just enough of a yellow shade to soften its look. It looks a bit mottled, which is what I wanted.