|Khasra by Moonlight by James Gurney, 12 x 18 inches, oil on board|
1. Set up an overall temperature contrast between the orange torchlight and the cool blue-green moonlight.
2. Keep the chroma in the moonlight low--not too intense of a blue-green. Hint of blue in far distance.
3. Put a slight warm halo around the moon and edge-light the adjacent clouds.
4. Keep the key of the painting relatively high.
5. Suppress all detail in the shadows and put some texture and variety in the lights.
6. Introduce a gradual stepping back of value, lightening as it goes back to the far minaret.
Here's the quick (45 minute) maquette that I built for lighting reference. It didn't need to be beautiful at all, just any old blobs of modeling clay were all I needed.
I quickly discovered that I had to move the actual lighting position quite far to the left, much farther to the left than the position of the moon in the painting.
After taking a digital photo of the maquette, in Photoshop I shifted the key toward blue-green, and I desaturated it slightly. The photo shows a lot of reflected light in the shadows, which I largely ignored. I would have played up that reflected light had I wanted to evoke daylight effects, where I might want to amplify the relatively weak reflected light.
"The Art of James Gurney"
at the Richard Hess Museum at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia will be on view through November 16, and I will do a public presentation on October 29.