Watercolor After Dark

While the rest of the world sleeps, nocturne painters venture out to capture the unique atmosphere and quality of light found when the sun goes down. Although a host of challenges await, from fatigue to seeing values and shapes accurately, the paintings featured here prove that rewards abound for those not afraid of the dark.

“Giralda Tower Sunset” (watercolor, 12 x 9 in.) by Richard Sneary
“Under the Curtain of Night” (watercolor, 11 x 14 in.) by Poppy Balser

“Painting nocturnes in watercolor can be challenging,” says Dan Mondloch. “With few light values, most of the paper is covered with mids and darks. It can be hard to see your pencil lines, which are especially important in a scene with architecture. Working at night also requires negative painting around those light areas, which can be a fun challenge, but can also slow down the pace. It’s important to keep a wet edge and have a mental map of where the most important lights are in the composition. I’m no stranger to using gouache, but it can be particularly helpful for nocturnes, especially toward the end for bright accents of light and color.”

“Pacific Coast Highway” (watercolor and gouache, 11 x 15 in.) by Dan Mondloch

Paint along with Richard Sneary, Stan Miller, Linda Baker, and Thomas Schaller at Watercolor Live, January 26-28, 2023!


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