This painting was a learning experience, start to finish. Unlike my first night scene of Noyo harbor, which had some fairly well lit boats and water-front buildings that could be painted with color and a little detail, this scene is from a greater distance. As a result, all of the structures are shrouded in darkness and can only be suggested with subtle value changes. There's little or no opportunity for color notes except for a few places where the lights reflect on nearby buildings and other surfaces. I've never painted anything with those restrictions. It was fun learning my way around the concept.
I started with a small color study. I am finding this a very important step when contemplating a lager studio painting that will require a lot of time commitment. The study not only helps to visualize the final painting, but it quickly reveals obvious problems and gives you an opportunity to think about them and eventually correct them. The final painting is done on stretched oil-primed linen. It was a very smooth weave. I would probably opt for a little more texture if I had it to do over. A lot of glazing went on in the areas of the water and more importantly in the hills. It helped bring the values of the textures in the hills together to reinforce the lack of light, while at the same time allowing enough change to be able to keep the hills from being black slabs. The final painting is 18" x 36".
This was easily the most difficult painting to photograph that I have encountered. The surface is very smooth linen and it has a glossy varnish on top. The hills do have value changes to suggest shapes and trees, but because they are still very dark, the camera wants to average them into the overall value. Finding a way to capture the darkness of the painting yet also reveal the subtle value changes which give definition to the structures and the hills was a real challenge. This photo comes as close to the actual painting as any I have taken. I finally quit trying to put light on the painting and went in exactly the opposite direction. I took this in a room with no lights on at all and with the blinds on the windows closed a tightly as possible. I used shutter control and finally found the ideal at about a 1/4 second exposure, f/4.8, iso 400. No 'adjustments' in photoshop were needed.
|The Lights of Noyo Harbor Oil on linen 36" x 18"|
|Color Study Noyo Harbor 9 x 12|
My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art