NIGHT VISION

The artist Charles Burchfield was inspired by nature. His paintings reflect his interest in the changing seasons, the weather, sunlight, and darkness.

This is one of Charles Burchfield's pictures. Charles Burchfield painted the forces in nature that matched his own feelings and picked colors to express his mood. What kind of weather did the artist depict here? Can you tell what season it is? How does the painting make you feel?

Charles Burchfield
Night of the Equinox
When Charles Burchfield was a child, he thought the nights were mysterious and even a little scary. How do you feel when it starts to get dark? Why don't you make a picture about it?

Here's how:

1. Get out these supplies:

  • Heavy, white drawing paper (a large sheet)
  • crayons (bright colors)
  • watercolors (black or dark blue)
  • brush
  • jar of water
  • scrap paper
2. Pick out a scene.
  • Do you remember watching the sky get dark? You might have been looking from the door of a tent, from a car window, or even from your own bedroom.
3. Picture your scene by day.
  • With your crayons, draw your scene. But leave out the sun!
  • Color your picture again. Keep going over it until every place you've colored feels smooth and waxy.
4. Make some liquid darkness!
  • Put a little water (about 1 inch deep) in your glass.
  • Get your paintbrush wet, then put it in the blue or black watercolor.
  • Put the paintbrush in the water. Did the water turn dark?
  • Keep using your paintbrush to put paint in the water. You're making a color wash.
  • Test out your wash by painting a stripe on the scrap paper. Does it look light or dark? It should be very dark.
5. Now picture your scene at night!
  • Don't try to paint around your crayon drawing. Paint right over your whole daytime scene.
  • Make even strokes, but don't paint over the same areas twice.
6. How does your scene make you feel now?
  • Your daytime picture "jumps out" of the night. It's all still there. When it gets dark, things only look different!