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Painting by Moonlight

Updated: Oct 6, 2021

On full moon nights, I like to paint in the dark. I stumbled on this practice by accident. I was taking an on-line mixed media journaling class called, “Painting the Feminine” with Connie Solera. We were encouraged throughout the class to try things that took artmaking out of our heads and away from the have-tos. We were encouraged to paint from sensation.


First, we got to know our brushes by putting on music and dancing with them, by dry brushing the palms of our hands, by swirl-painting the air. We were shown how to choose colors and make marks based on attraction to paints and tools in the moment, forgetting anything we had learned about technique, leaning more on our intuition. We painted in sketchbooks. The thinking behind it is that when we focus on the practice and the process more than on the product, we experience more freedom. Painting and collecting paintings in an art journal or re-purposing an old book diminished the pressure of putting a piece on a pedestal, or holding a finished creation too preciously.


One full moon night during the pandemic, I couldn’t sleep. Tossing and turning with overwhelm, I worried about loved ones and their health, worried about my health, my work, our finances, worried about the whole damn world. I told myself I was even getting behind on the fun stuff, my beloved painting class, though there was no such thing as getting behind, as the classes were made available indefinitely. Since sleep wasn’t coming, I decided to get up and paint.


As I climbed the stairs to my studio, I was drawn to the moon casting a shaft of veiled light