Sunday evening, we drove down to the beach.  There are several semi-private, sandy coves along the south side of the island with grape trees, pines and of course palm trees.  (What is it about palm trees, sand beaches and water?)  I painted several studies of the beach, waves, surf and sky.  I finished up as dark was descending, and I could no longer see my pastels or painting.  As I started to walk back to the car, my friend called out, “Look!” pointing to the sky.  The moon was just cresting over the tops of the trees, full, round and golden.  Heaven!   The moon lit the sky, ringing the clouds in silver, and making the water shimmer.

I photographed the scene, and focused on putting the memory in my mind to later recreate it. This small painting is close to what I saw.  Silver blue light, glinting off a few clouds and a twinkling of light in the distance.

Moondance #1 Pastel 9x6 © Nelia Harper 2015
Moondance #1 Pastel 9×6 © Nelia Harper 2015

Last night, we went back for more moon magic.  Again, I painted a couple of studies.  First, I painted the water, focusing on perspective and the surf.  Then, time for the sunset.  Fluffy lavender clouds marched across the sky which turned to light pink.

Then, we waited for the moonrise.  I moved my tripod next to the water (praying it wouldn’t tip being so close to the water’s edge).  The water turned to light pink, aquamarine and lavender.  Delicious.  We waited.  We waited.  I blocked in the shapes.  We waited.  I waded out into the water.  I adjusted the tripod.  We waited.

Easel is set and waiting for the moon to rise. © Nelia
Easel is set and waiting for the moon to rise. © Nelia

Just when we were beginning to wonder if the moon had taken the night off, a slow glow began to form behind the trees.  I felt the excitement building.  What would happen tonight?  The clouds had vacated the sky but a mauve/lavender glow began to form.  Having never painted in the dark, it was quite an experience.  I focused on form and value – there wasn’t much else I could do!  I used my headlamp to light my work, then turned it off to get a look at the values in the landscape.  When I had the essentials  on the paper, I packed up, grabbed a couple of photos (as best I could) and did my best to burn the image in my mind. The light incandescent glow of the moon, the ripples of water, lights blinking/twinkling.  Water lapping at my feet.  Sandals filling with rocks and sand.  A light breeze wafting over the water.  A feeling of peace, contentment and joy filled me from head to toe.

Moondance #2 Pastel 10x12 © Nelia Harper 2015
Moondance #2 Pastel 10×12 © Nelia Harper 2015

Both paintings are for sale.  The small one for $65 and the larger for $95.

They aren’t in my shop yet, so just let me know if you want them.

Happy moondance wherever you are.

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