The Paintings of the Night

The depiction of the night in paintings provides an interesting insight into how different artists approach the same idea. Van Gogh, for example, created one of his paintings, “Cafe Terrace,” which is taking place at night, without the use of the color black. Instead, he uses shades of blue, violet, and green, and surrounds those shades with greens and yellows in order to create a sense of illumination. It is also interesting to note that Van Gogh created his artwork at night in order to get an accurate depiction of how he saw it.

Another artist, Sandy Gellis, used the technique of observation to paint the night by observing the night through the window of an airplane. This unique perspective allowed Gellis to create a unique piece of artwork, and depict a scene that many people have seen, but often don’t pay detailed attention to.

“The Night Watch,” a piece by Rembrandt, uses aspects of shadow, light, and night in order to depict a military group in a portrait form. The irony in this piece is that although the piece mentions night in its title and seems to represent a scene of the night in its appearance, it is actually a day time scene.

It is interesting to see how artists commonly do not paint night in just shades of black and grey, as we normally would picture it. Rather, artists often paint scenes of the night with an aspect of illumination that present night in a way that may not be immediately familiar to us, but in reality is often the way that we see night in our lives. We aren’t often exposed to complete darkness, especially on Long Island, so the way that the artwork is represented may actually be a more accurate portrayal of the night rather than complete black darkness.


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1 Response to The Paintings of the Night

  1. jcicero says:

    The concept of night and shadow in paintings are fascinating! I always hear how you’re never supposed to use straight black on your piece put rather make your own mixture out of blues and reds and such. And I think that makes total sense! Many times the ‘black’ we see is actually just deeper shades of other colors, and, if I’m remembering correctly, there aren’t actually black pigments in the human body, so if it looks like someone has black hair or eyes it’s actually just very deep shades of brown!

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