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Marion - this is certainly a lovely painting.  I like your composition and you have done a really nice job with the waves and water. Painting moonlit scenes are always a challenge for me as the colors are much more muted in moonlight.

To my eye, the values and colors on the shore and tree in your painting look more like daytime. I would suggest that you view a few more photos of moonlight beach scenes just to get an idea of your value range as things on the shore tend to look pretty dark when the moon is out over the water. In reality you would not see so much color on the beach or trees and the different values are much more muted.

I think your water and sky are lovely and will standout when the colors on shore are toned down a bit. You have done a beautiful job with the blues and purples here - these colors lend themselves to moonlight nights.  The colors yellow seems to appear more during sunny days - so that maybe what is giving the daytime feel to the scene

Those are my thoughts.  I am learning all the time, as well, and really value the feedback from the many artists in this group so it will be good to hear what others think.  I think this is a lovely painting and it has a surreal feel to it - so I am looking forward to the finished work.

Thanks for sharing it,


Hi Sarah,

yes you are right about the values and colours. I have been googling moonlit beaches, but haven't found exactly ones that really help me, I think because of the tree in my painting,...I can't fgure out what should be happening colourwise in front of it.  Yes I was thinking the yellow was out of place, was trying to "frame" the moon, but then again that would put a light source - which is the moon in this case and therefore doesn't make sense - in the foreground, whereas the moon is obviously on other side.  So my focal point should just be the moon/sky/water...with the tree more "muted"...?  I will work on that and perhaps put a request for moonlit shores on this site, to help me out. 

Thanks so much, it really helps to have a fresh eye and experience, really appreciate your comments. Just so you can see where this painting started, will post a "before" pic. Totally changed time of day (this was one of those 2-hour Paint Night activities - are you familiar with these? Group of strangers/friends pay $, it's set-up in a bar/restaurant,  local artists leads all in painting same painting, fun to do with friends, and yes, a glass of wine).


Update: Darkened tree, foreground. Googled moonlit scenes.

I have attached an updated pic, not sure if there is another way to show the pic.

Am I close? Any suggestions, advice much appreciated. Thanks.


Hi Marion,

Yes! much more like a night scene. Sarah gave you come great advice on this one.

I think one of the great benefits of painting is that it is an incentive to really look at things in the world around us. When you are thinking about trying to paint a night scene, the best thing to do is go outside at night on a moonlit night and look around. What colors do you see and not see? The overall cool blue color of the light of the moon affects everything in the scene. Our brains have learned to interpret a night scene and fill in the color with our imagination. That's our biggest challenge as painters: pay no attention to what your mind is telling you is there and instead just see what is there. Without categorizing or judging it. The thought processes involved with creating a painting are very different than the thought processes needed for daily life. Our brain is just looking to identify and categorize, not to appreciate what is there.

Ha, sorry, I'm off on a ramble! :)

What you will find is all those warm colors disappear. Reds, oranges, yellows. And all the colors take on the color of the light.

You have already discovered that darkening the value of the foreground has dramatically increased the feeling of glowing light in the moon. The darker the sky, the brighter the moon will appear.

Anyway you have done a wonderful "save" of this paint party painting! And I think you are hooked now :)

Hi Karen,

your "ramble" is so dead on! It's an on-going challenge and awareness.

I will definitely do another night scene, but perhaps wait until the warmer weather, when I will want to spend time outside, lol. I do love painting skies.

I cannot darken the leaves any further, because I also used a gel medium for texture, and now doesn't really take paint.

I may add a touch more blue here and there, but think I am about done with this one.

Yes, am well hooked.  Thanks so much for all help.

You're so welcome!

Marion - you are not the only one to discover that issue with gel medium gloss!  I ended up using a fairly stiff bristle brush to cover the affected surface with a thin application of gloss medium.  Perhaps the gel has to dry longer before bonding to a new layer?  Not sure why it happens, but working in the medium solved the issue.  If you do not need the transparency, matte medium would also work.

Hi Charles,  too funny, thought I was using the matte, just looked at the container and it is gloss! Sheesh. I was more focussed on creating the texture than what the sheen looked like (palette knife for leaves - then attempted fix was with a stiff brush and paint).  An unexpected lesson learned.  Will have to experiment in another painting, using both gloss and matte.  I think you are right, paint in matte would likely be the solution (was a couple of days dry when I went over it).

thanks, appreciate your comment.

And trying to take a picture of this was challenging due to the gloss, lol. The little peaks just keep catching/refecting light.  Didn't get a truly accurate colour photo.....and that is something else I need to learn - how to photograph a painting properly.

Gel medium is really nice when you need to get a sense of depth or transparency, or even "dilute" your paints a bit.  For straight texture, I prefer Light Modeling Paste.  This is easy to apply, has less shrinkage, and dries opaque white.  Once dry, paint away!  One caution is that pastes are not as flexible as gels when dry, so I normally use a rigid substrate when any textures are being considered.  That way if the creative juices get too fired up I don't have to worry about substrate limitations.

Reflected light will almost always be an issue with textured surfaces - especially with translucent or transparent gels that reflect from both the upper and lower surface of the film.  The smaller the light source, the worse the reflections will become; a more diffuse light source seems to work better.

In theory polarizing filters will reduce reflected hot spots, but they also change contrast and colour intensity.  In this case, they cause more problems than they solve.  Another concern is the surroundings.  The colour and value of items adjacent to the painting will influence the camera software that decides the "correct" colour balance for each picture.  I bought a 2' x 4' sheet of Foamcore that has a neutral gray finish on one surface.  This is used as a background for the painting and then cropped out when editing the final image.  It is not as pure a gray as the Kodak gray cards, but the value is close and the colour is not off enough to significantly influence the photo image. 

Wow thanks for all that info!  I have modelling paste, but have not used it yet in painting. (I Went to an afternoon workshop where I was introduced to these mediums, but only tried the paste at that workshop.)  

I have a white foamcore board, but could probably paint that grey until I get s proper one. That is a good idea, making a neutral photo background. 

Think I will have to print this off to refer back to.

much appreciated!

Hi Marion. I like the changes you have made.  The moon and moonlight water really stand out now. Thanks for sharing your work on this as it helps us all tho learn. 


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