Hard landscape. ‘Jimena castle by night’

For this exercise I am going to choose a ‘hard’ landscape rather than ‘soft’. I am lucky enough to have a terrace that you can look up to the castle from and there are a jumble of house on the way up too. My problem, if it is indeed a problem, is that it is a mixture of hard and soft as there are lots of trees and green foliage up by the castle but I have an idea that maybe I can paint it at night. The castle is floodlit and the houses should show up with lights in the windows. Maybe the moon will be in it too. The dark should hide the trees. I have done a quick sketch today and will go up when it gets dark and have a look at the possibilities. (The moon wasn’t really there…)20170505_151300_Richtone(HDR) (2)

It is 10.40 and I have been up on the terrace with my A3 pad and charcoal. It was not easy to see what I was doing. Also, I am sitting up on a wall to see more so I will have to be careful or I could end up on the neighbour’s roof….I will have to fix some light up there too for me to paint but surprising really, what one can draw even when you cannot see! The castle floodlights come on at 10.00 and the castle then stands out really bold and strong. The tree below look very black in contrast with some very bright green in the lights. The houses are more muted, soft greys and not all had lights on and most patios have trees and shrubs that stand out black against the lights. So it will be a limited pallette with a lot of black and greyish-greenish  tones. The castle is a sandy colour. I hope I am going the right way with this for this exercise but now I am excited about it and want to do this, so I will be attempting it one night soon. 20170506_112513_Richtone(HDR)

I have also been looking at how artists have portrayed the night.  Found an interesting article here: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2016/sep/27/how-night-inspires-painters-munch-europe-towner-art-gallery-eastbourne

..and good information here: http://www.artistsnetwork.com/articles/art-demos-techniques/plein-air-nocturnes

Van Gogh of course, painted a lot of night work from his ‘Starry Night’ and the cafe scenes.

Today I have prepared a canvas block (larger than A3) with a mixture of white and payne’s grey.  I will paint portrait as this suits the scene, with houses coming down the hill towards me and the castle the main feature at the top. I intend to mark out where the buildings are in daylight and then paint what I can see tonight using a limited pallette.


Well, that was fun :-0 . It was hard to see any colours and although I could see the canvas ok with my light but it meant I couldn’t see clearly the houses although the castle was bright. With the light off I could see the view much better. Maybe I will do some twilight work tomorrow quickly…it doesn’t last long. My cat wouldn’t leave me alone and I was afraid he would jump onto my tray and knock everything over. I was an hour up there and I got a lot done and I am quite pleased with it so far. My husband photographed my nocturnal creativity…

And this is what I did. Obviously not finished but I need to have a long hard look at it tomorrow.


The next day I neatened up the castle a little and I added the stars from memory. The moon hadn’t got there yet….

Well I have just spent an earlier hour up there, just as twilight ended ,  and I think I have finished. Some more lights were on in the houses which made it more interesting as they threw more shadows and yellowish colours. There is a street light in the centre that threw out a lot of light and made for interesting shadows. I think strangely enough, working in the dark made me bolder and a bit looser and I am happy with the work I have produced for this. Night painting is something I definitely will want to try again.

Jimena castle by night

Retrospective-reflection: I am still pleased with this and indeed it inspired me in part with my assignment 4 (to paint outside when it is darker).  So I am happy to have brought this idea forward. It was a fun exercise and I have captured a night scene fairly well and the castle lit up at night. I am drawn to the lights in the house in the centre; it looks cosy and reflects the life inside the houses and contrasts with the lack of colour that a night scene has.

I have never seen another local artist do this (Castle at night) 🙂


Author: Wendy Kate

Happily sharing my life in Spain with a tall bearded man from Dorset.

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