Nocturne Notes – Philippe Gandiol

Janice K. Johnson

Nocturne Notes

Philippe Gandiol


Dusk in Montparnasse, 24 x 30", Oil, © Philippe Gandiol
Dusk in Montparnasse     24 x 30″     Oil     © Philippe Gandiol


   We recently had the opportunity to interview Philippe Gandiol and to learn more about how the influence of his childhood growing up in France has informed his current work. We asked him to elaborate a bit more about his painting in dusky and evening light for our “Nocturne Notes” series. To see Gandiol’s complete interview, visit “Voices of Experience – Philippe Gandiol”.

   Philippe wrote to us about painting nocturnes and more specifically about painting, Dusk in Montparnasse:

   When painting a nocturne from life, I have to rely on my own lights or/and the surrounding ones if I do a cityscape. These lights greatly affect the tones on my palette and on the canvas. So, I tend to start the painting well before sundown to establish anticipated darks and lights (warm darks, cool lights), and the main shapes. I mix several puddles of colors that could fit what I am going to need. When the sun starts going down in a landscape or city environment, I am ready for action.
 
   I tend to work at a fairly good pace to catch the moment, paying great attention to color temperature, to all the tight values, the variety of edges, the beautiful greys. I also focus  on how the light spreads around, flickers, how the warm darks are “haunting” me. I paint what I see, what I know, what is in my mind. I do not bother with a lot of details. It is exciting, daunting sometime, diving head first in a different world! I check the painting the next day to make some corrections under natural light when the scene is still fresh in my mind. In addition to my basic colors I often use Prussian Blue, Cerulean Blue Hue, Lemon Yellow or Hansa Yellow Light.

   Dusk in Montparnasse was painted in the studio from a plein air study and photos. The small study (9 x 12″) was instrumental in getting the mood right—the darkening sky getting duller, the few quick strokes to describe the corner cafe, the warm dark buildings in the front, cooling slightly as they recede. In the studio, I used my imagination to embellish the scene and reinforce the mood with the splashing light on the cafe’s terrasse, the sign’s light reflecting on the building wall and the sparkles going down the street to lead you around the piece. The cars were just quickly suggested. I used the photos for the details—cafe tables, people, signs, people.

   Gandiol included another example—an image painted very quickly—to illustrate the spontaneous expression and the movement of the brush strokes in his work. To see more of his work, visit Philippe Gandiol Fine Art.

Free Jazz, Oil, © Philippe Gandiol
Free Jazz    16 x 12″      Oil     © Philippe Gandiol

   In our fascination with how the eye sees, and translates the world around us to our brains, we have found it particularly interesting to study how the eye sees at night. Search for the words “Nocturnes” and “Vision” in the search bar to read many interesting articles about the science of seeing at night and the art of painting at night, or, download our book, Nocturnes – A Primer on Night Painting. We’ve asked some of our favorite artists to show us examples of their nocturne work and to tell us a little bit about their processes in this series of Nocturne Notes.


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