Carl Bretzke – Friday Night Video – February 10, 2023

Carl Bretzke – Friday Night Video – February 10, 2023

(Submitted by Sally Williams)

Due to a sudden cancellation, Sylvia invited attendees to watch a fascinating tutorial by painter Carl Bretzke titled “Nocturnes: Painting the Night.” This was a great reminder of the free resources available to artists. Carl is a representational oil painter specializing in plein air landscapes, urban and night scenes.

The introduction shows beautiful nocturnes by well-known artists (Whistler, Van Gogh, Frederic Remington, etc.) and Carl explains why he loves painting outdoors at night. Stationary objects—parked/idling cars beside neon signs, lamp light and headlights bouncing off buildings and roads—contribute to beautiful, interesting atmospheres.

Delving into the physics of prismatic light and color and light halos (with excellent examples of prismatic palettes and why he prefers to paint live vs photo reference), Carl moves on to his painting. Because his demonstration is in the studio with a photo for reference, he walks the viewer through the effect cameras have on light, and why he prefers to paint outdoors at night.

He discusses composition (drawing major shapes), identifying the location of light sources and the use of the paintbrush handle when it comes to perspective and proportion (and a handy tip to use a white handle when painting at night).

Other steps include:

  • Blocking in and connecting darks (leave gaps for light areas).
  • The option of painting moveable objects and transient lights, to refining light sources (halos) and correcting colour.
  • Refining drawing in the light.
  • The hierarchy of light, value gradations (and prismatic gradations) and reflected light.
  • Dark accents and bright reflections.

The tutorial has some good tips on choice of paint, surface/support, and light settings. Also, if you choose to paint outdoors at night, alert neighbours, dress warm and wear something with reflective markers (especially if you’re painting by the roadside!). A flashlight/headlamp is useful.

If you’d like to watch this excellent tutorial, you can find it here:

Carl’s website:

Thanks, Sylvia for finding an excellent video and we look forward to our original guest presenter at a future date.

 A lovely quote from the tutorial:

“Silently glowing over this whole landscape is a rainbow. You must learn to see it. It is always there”
— Frank Vincent DuMond