As the “Lunar Glows” — A Step-by-Step Process of A Full Moon Painting

Where to begin when creating moon landscape painting?



As I have learned, a moon painting needs a warm underpainting. Why? To help make is glow and to create depth in the painting. This does not initially make sense, but it seems to work for me.

To add to the variety to the underpainting, I vary the colors from a very warm yellows to a cool reds using diagonal brush strokes. Prior to this underpainting, the panel had been textured with 3 coats of gesso that I apply organically with a large palette knife. This texture is quite subtle and adds to the intrigue of the painting.

Second layer of paint

Second layer of paint

At this stage of the painting, you can see that I have designated the “window” in which I am going to place my moon scape. Abstract shapes and textures are added around this window. “Lunar Glow” will be included in my “Windows Within A Window,” series of paintings. Notice that by colors are analogous to maintain color harmony in the painting. They also seem to convey a Hawaii feeling.

The moon scape image was inspired by photographs I took during the middle of the night while on the island of Hawaii in March.

Third stage

Third stage

At this juncture of the painting process, I am letting the painting “talk” to me as I add more abstract shapes. I am pleasantly surprised how the initial orange underpainting is glowing. I want to make sure that I keep it. There is always a tendency to add more layers when in fact it is not necessary! I have to remind myself to keep my brush/palette knife out of that area.

The sky has been darkened with dark cool reds and warm purples. The Hawaii rocky shore is also being developed.

Fourth stage

Fourth stage

Note that I have not painted in the full moon until this later stage of the painting process.  I continue to add layers to the night sky trying to create that full moon glow.

A key is often included within my abstract fused with realism paintings. It’s a piece of intrigue as I like to ask the viewer questions with my paintings. Circular shapes have been added to the painting to echo the moon shape. Many of the textures are created by scraping across the painting surface very lightly with a palette knife; this is where the gesso texture really plays a role.

Color wise, I am careful to keep the colors related using an expanded color scheme of analogous colors. I have added a tad of bright blue in strategic spots to add a little bling and to keep your eye moving around the painting.

Completed "Lunar Glow" 16 x 20 oil

Completed “Lunar Glow” 16 x 20 oil

As I finish “Lunar Glow,” I apply additional thin layers of paint to calm some areas down while bringing out small ares of glowing color to add to the depth of the painting and to create unity throughout the picture plane. Certain shapes, such as the key, are not as obvious so that you ‘find’ it versus having it jump out at you.

Did I capture that sense of moon glow? Where does your imagination go while looking at this painting?


  1. says

    While looking at your beautiful moonscape , I feel dazzled , how mystical and inexplicable this universe is! a combination of the familiar and unknown, how colorful and dynamic and also infinite.

  2. carolmac2 says

    Gloria, I work with water mixable oils and I LOVE them because they are a wonderful compromise between acrylic and oils. Thanks for asking.

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