Silent Night

Posted on

In my latest painting, “Silent Night”, there is a mysterious, eerie silence, almost a reverence, as people speak in hushed tones wondering what’s next. The painting ended up that way, but that’s certainly not the way it began. It’s always a good idea, before beginning a painting, to give some thought to the IDEA. Admittedly, in my rush and excitement to begin painting, I don’t always follow my own advice.

This painting however was different. The New England area of America is right near the top of my favorite subjects to paint; the history, architecture, landscape…just the character of the area is immensely appealing. So, when perusing some old photos, one in particular caught my eye. What could I do with it? I felt it was good as is, but were there other possibilities?

So, let me walk you through the thinking process. (Click images to enlarge)

“Silent Night” – 9″ x 12″ – Oil…This is the final result from what follows.

I originally conceived of this painting being a square, specifically 12 x 12 inches. These two 3″ acrylic studies were done with that proportion in mind. The first was to just get something down. It’s like a “clear the brain” study while not departing too much from the photo reference. The second study asks the question, “What if I did this? I immediately liked the drama created.

Photo reference from a 4 x 6 inch print

Deciding to pursue the “moody” approach. The next decision was to select an appropriate palette. The first decision was to use a grayed blue, so rather than select Ultramarine Blue (my typical go-to blue), I chose Chromatic Black; from there I went to my book, “Limited Palette Unlimited Color” in order to help decide just what color scheme to use: Isosceles Triad, Equilateral Triad, Square or Rectangular Quadratic? Considering the Black as the blue, what other colors were needed to achieve the desired mood? You can see the ones chosen and the resulting small color study…all to make sure of the choice.

From Page 72 of the book, Rectangular Quadratic-5 was selected…Blue, Red, Orange, and Green. BUT, rather than mix the orange and green from a Blue, Red, and Yellow, tube colors were selected for each spot.

Tube colors selected for the painting…plus Titanium White.

Decision time! I had this frame laying around the studio; placing it over the color study I realized that it worked really well. Not having a 12 x 12 inch frame, the whole scene was re-composed to this 9″ x 12″ format. I still think the square studies could make for really nice future paintings, but the decision here was one of practicality. I had a frame that worked, why not use it?


If you’re interested in purchasing this painting, please click HERE

If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to comment. Also, be sure to click that “Like” button. Thank you.

***If you would like to receive this weekly blog automatically, please complete the simple form on the bottom right of this page. To receive my monthly newsletter complete the form on the top right. Thank You.

I’m pleased to offer both of my instructional videos and book as a complete set for the first time. They may also be purchased individually. All are best sellers and include everything I’ve taught in my workshops. You can now take my oil painting workshop right in the comfort of your home, and for a lot less money than physically being present. (Click image to learn more)

For those that have purchased the book, I invite you to join our new Facebook Group – “Limited Palette Unlimited Color”. If you qualify, I hope you’ll join us. Check us out on Facebook. HERE is the link.


Want to take your painting to the next level? I can help. Click HERE to learn about my critique/mentoring programs.


John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Living Master. To view his art and bio, please click HERE


Please Note - You must be logged into a Facebook account in order to write comments. We highly recommend using Google Chrome, Fire Fox, or Internet Explorer since some individuals have not been able to leave comments on the Safari browser. If you have any issues, please email me.