|Jason Sacran working on a nocturne in his workshop in Overland Park, KS.|
- At least two LED book lights to attach to your easel above your canvas. One LED light on your palette. Note Jason has three attached to the top of his easel.
- Appropriate clothing layers for cooler nights.
- Mosquito spray if you are in the Mid West!
- A flashlight to use as you are packing up (when it's REAL dark).
- I suggest painting nocturnes with a buddy. Lots of people stop to see what you are doing. (Some of them have just left the bar.)
- When painting at night values are very close together, so simplify your palette if possible. Premix a nice rich dark sky color while you have natural light. Just black or blue and black doesn't work well.
- Choose subject matter that has the greatest degree of value contrast with the simplest compositional elements.
- Study carefully what you’re naturally observing.
- Make sure you angle your headlamp down at 45 degrees to avoid light bouncing back into your eyes.
- Position your easel and palette so that they have consistent lighting: if your canvas is in light make sure your palette is in light. If your canvas is in shadow, make sure your palette is in shadow. Working under a street light is ideal.
- When mixing your palette at night, remember to make the colors slightly lighter than what you’re actually seeing because they will appear much duller and darker when viewed in daylight.
- Use very little white.
- Because most of the colors you will be painting with at night will be cool, use a warm underpainting to provide greater contrast and luminosity.
- Use big brushes for better blending and to achieve the soft edges inherent in night scenes.
- There is a warm halo of ambient light around the light sources. By exaggerating the dark values surrounding that with a chiaroscuro effect, you will create the illusion that the light source is glowing.
- The farther away from the light source, the darker the sky’s value.
- As the moon rises, its reflection will spread out wider over the surface beneath it.
- The painting will dull when the darks dry. I suggest a nice workable spray varnish like Krylon Conservation retouch varnish.