Painting watercolour at night is an exciting experience. The main difference from day time painting is that the paper takes a very, very, long time to dry so you need to use a direct approach. The name given to this style is alla prima (first go). In alla prima painting you need to get the right value first time, apply it and leave it. There is no chance to put an underpainting and then to let this dry. The second really important thing is that you need to have a good, consistent light source. I’ve done it under public lighting in supermarket parking lot which worked fine. I’ve also seen artists wear a head lamp.
One of the neat things about night time painting especially if you’re not used to it is that it makes you paint in a different manner. For me I always start a painting with an underpainting. At night I can’t do this so I have to use a different approach – alla prima. This forces me to think in a new way.
This first painting is of the Airbnb guest house we stayed in at South River, ON. South River is one of the gateways to Alquonquin Park. We were there for my nephew’s wedding. I was really pleased that I got most of the values the first time. I just had to adjust the 2 dark roofs.
This second painting was done in the parking lot of a local supermarket. It was tremendously fun to do. The paint was dripping and flowing and it was an exhilarating 40 minutes.
This final painting was a nocturnal demo I did at the CSPWC Symposium, August 2017. This is one that gave me a lot of trouble because I tried to begin with a underpainting and it took a long time to dry. Also, I thought I was close enough to the lamp post but after a while it got so dark that I couldn’t tell one colour from another so I had to finish it the next day.
If you’ve never tried night painting give it a shot. It’s a lot of fun and makes us paint differently.