The painting on the cover of a book caught my eye: a night scene by Whistler. I was not familiar with his night and seascape paintings, so I bought the book.
I knew I was going to be painting a view of a harbor at night in the coming weeks at the Grand Marais Plein Air Painting Competition , so I really studied the plates in the book. Key components that I thought would enhance my painting included simplifying color and shape. See how the boats and land merge into a larger mass, but you still know they are boats and land?
When the time came to do my pastel painting, I chose a neutral-toned surface to paint on, and set up my easel with a view that included the lighthouses. The sun sets quickly, so I started a sketch while it was still light. The boats were arranged so that they would "connect", and I started laying down color. Once I was happy with the shapes, I added the lights and dropped them down into the water. The result captures the mood I was working for. "Nocturne - Grand Marais Harbor", 9x12, pastel. Thank you, Mr. Whistler.