Blame It on the Moon

Tuesday’s painting session was fun. It was also a little crazy, a fact which I’m going to blame on the moon. December’s “supermoon” reached fullness Tuesday night at 7:06 PM. It’s called the “Full Cold Moon” which makes perfect sense, don’t you think?

Of course, the moon gets blamed for a lot of things. My husband swears the full moon makes him a little crazy each month. Actually he’s a little crazy all the time, but I don’t dare tell him that.

Studies have been done to determine if there actually is an increase in craziness around the time of the full moon, and our words looney and lunatic come right from the Latin word, luna. What I’ve read suggests that there is no correlation between the full moon and odd behavior, but try telling that to my husband!

Anyway, maybe I was a little crazy that morning when I started planning my painting time. Actually, I didn’t do a lot of planning, and that was part of the craziness.

It began while I was doing a bit of housecleaning, straightening up the guest room before the Christmas holidays. I keep most of my art supplies there, and as I was putting things away I came across a couple of small “panels”. No, they’re not canvas panels. What they are — and don’t laugh too much — are the hard backs of the Arches Watercolor blocks I’ve bought. I saved them. Why? Well, I thought I might be able to use them for something.

And that something turned out to be a small oil painting. Crazy? Well, these backs are sturdy, and they seemed to have a bit of tooth to them, so why not? And then someone mentioned the moon, and I had an image in my head. Moonlight shimmering over the water, or across a forest path, or just in the sky! Let’s just say my vision wasn’t too clear.

As I worked at my easel, the painting really didn’t know what it wanted to be. At one point, it was turning into a seascape. At another time, it was just a hillside with mountains behind it. It finally turned into a scene of mountains overlooking a lake, although I’m not sure whether or not that’s what it actually looks like. It’s a snowy scene, and those are supposed to be snow-covered pines on the right.


It was good practice on value, and I enjoyed it, even though I really struggled with that lower right-hand corner. I just wasn’t sure what should go there.

And where’s the moon? Behind the clouds right now. I toyed with the idea of adding a more visible moon, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. I might go back to the painting and make the moonlight lighter and brighter.

Yes, I got some really weird colors. I mixed Van Dyke brown and Prussian blue, but the surface of the board wasn’t too cooperative, especially as the paint dried. It looked gorgeous at first, but gradually faded into what you see here.

It’s a bit of a mess, I know. I do like the mountains, but as usual, I had problems creating depth. The pine trees were originally standing on a slight incline, but then I went back and tried to extend them toward the bottom edge.

All in all, it was fun to play around with the painting, working again with a very limited palette. I used only the Van Dyke brown, Prussian blue, and Titanium white. Maybe I’ll do something similar on a real canvas panel or stretched canvas. But when I do, I think I’ll plan it out a little more so I know what to put in that lower right corner.

Or…I’m smiling right now. The more I look at this, the more fantastical the image appears. Maybe what I’ve painted here actually is the moon. It looks a bit like the lunar surface might be, don’t you think?



  1. I really like this one Judith. Noticed your statement about the paint not drying the way you want. Does it seem dry looking and thin coverage by any chance? If so, you might want to consider moving up in paint quality. You can find nice paint for really cheap actually. There is a brand called Soho that has a nice pigment quality for the price at Jerry’s Artorama. It is their house brand. It is marketed as professional or it used to be anyway, but I would consider it a good student grade paint. Smells a bit weird, like there is a drying chemical in it, but I have never been able to find exactly what is is. I just know it drys faster than my other brands. Like days vs many days. It doesn’t bother me and the paintings come out nice, so maybe worth a try if when you are ready. It won’t break your bank and you might appreciate the color saturation compared to what you are using now. I remember you said Walmart, but I can’t remember the brand if you told us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the information. Mostly I’m using Wal-Mart’s “Daler Rowney” brand paints, and I actually like them. I have some “artist quality” paints, too, by M. Graham (the ones I bought by mistake last summer) and Winsor & Newton. The paint dried really weird on this particular painting because of the surface. It was never meant to be used for oil painting, so I’m actually surprised it turned out as well as it did. I’ve grown very fond of the painting, in fact. I have it here in my office — which is decorated in mostly black and white. It fits right in! I will check out the Soho brand.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s actually become one of my favorites 🙂 One I saw the “fantastic” quality to it and thought about it being the surface of the moon, I really liked it. I’m so happy that you like it too 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I think this is a good painting Judith! In my opinion you should not discount the value of the process of pushing a painting this way and that – from mountain-scape to seascape, from sunset to moonlight etc. The key is that you stand back and decide when it says what YOU want it to say. You are feeling your way through the dark until the image you seeks finds you. Anyway, that’s my two cent’s worth. Keep searching and painting.

    Liked by 1 person

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