BLOG 002 Sun on the Moonby Jim Rataczak on 02/01/12
Every so often, the moon rises right around the time the sun sets, resulting in a unique, dynamic light. Just such an evening occurred on the 8th of last month, when the just-short-of-full moon rose shortly before the sun fell behind the trees.
I'd been tracking moonrise/sunset times all winter, and circled Jan 8th on my calendar in preparation for a Hawk-Owl painting I've been wanting to do for some time. Two years ago, I spent a couple days in the famous Sax-Zim Bog area of northern Minnesota, sketching Hawk-Owls. It was a LOT of fun, and resulted in one of my personal favorite watercolors, "Owl from the North Country". The following Autumn found me in bog country again, (thinking about the owls, not surprisingly) when the moon came up just as the sun was setting. The seed of a painting idea began to germinate.
Now, this past January 8th, I stood behind my field easel, out in our marsh, as the anticipated moment drew near. Right on time, the big moon floated up behind the far shore, and the light began to change by the minute. I painted as fast as I absolutely could--I mean, I really threw the paint around! I did five separate 5 x 7 oil studies in the hour surrounding the moonrise, and then jotted down a page of color notes in my sketchbook.
It was enthralling to track the warm bands of color in the sky moving upwards, gradually being replaced by a blue-violet band at the horizon. I wondered if that blue band was actually the shadow of the earth, made as the globe rolled over in space, moving me further away from the sun. It was exhilarating to really feel like I was on a celestial body, moving through the universe. I simultaneously felt hugely important and spectacularly insignificant.
With my rising moon/setting sun research in hand, I have moved forward toward a full Hawk-Owl/moonrise/sunset studio painting. "The Rising", now sits about 95% completed on my easel, and I'll try to post an image of it next month. Until then, enjoy each rotation of the earth!