night furnace


What does a waterfall look like at night?


Outdoors at night, a dark primed study board reflects less light than most objects in the landscape. So to increase the light reflected from the paint to look like what I saw, I used a very weak LED light to work by. The study shows what I saw on a bright night with very light cloud cover - there was some brightness in the sky to filter into the pool. The pale shape lower right of the fall was a bat.
You are looking at a photo of the study made in broad daylight which shows harsh brushmarks that were invisible to me as I was painting at night. Resemblance of the study to what I saw outdoors only happens in the same conditions, or indoors at very low light levels.

The problem is : How to use the nocturnal study as a source for a painting that will be hung in ordinary day light?


The on the spot study is in the low lit area to the back on the left, but the canvas is top lit by daylight. The adaptions the eye makes across this dual illumination helps to retrieve the original perception in the studio. I'm also using degraded video images of the fall taken at night, along with written notes and my memory.

what I expected

The study below was my guess at what the nocturnal fall might look before I actually saw it. See how different nature can be from what we imagine, even for someone who has spent half his life painting landscapes.

Not only was the distribution of tones much more messy and elusive than I expected, the large scale geometry of the fall, which in daylight is normally static, was actually mobile - nothing 'settled down'. The darkness round the fall opened up much more than I had imagined (opening up was not something I associated with darkness on the ground). And the blacks had various characters, there was a family of them and they were not nothing. The darks and shifting low lights interacted to make a new thing, a kind of water-with-night.

I had had no idea that it would be like this.

predictive study

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