ThirtyEight: Late


Continuing the “Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” year long quest.

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Later, 8x10,oil on board
Later, 8×10,oil on board

Well, the title of the last painting was so long, I decided to shorten this one! We are having a full moon this week, so what better time to paint a nocturne! This is the first nocturne I have ever painted, but more about that later.

Quimby Creek starts in the eastern foothills of San Jose, flows out of the mountains, joins Thompson Creek which empties into Silver Creek, then Coyote Creek, and on to the San Francisco Bay. Quimby Road (about two blocks from my home) roughly parallels the creek climbing the eastern foothills of Silicon Valley, eventually joining Mt Hamilton Road which winds it way up to the Lick Observatory.

Lick Observatory, built in 1888 by James Lick from gold rush and other money, was the worlds first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory. In that day, materials had to be hauled via horse and mule-drawn wagons via a winding dirt road to the top of the 4200 ft high Mount Hamilton. Lick is buried beneath the main telescope and the observatory is still used today.

I frequently ride my Harley up to the observatory. Here are a few pictures—
Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

This takes us back to the valley, and the painting… Many wonder why the street lights in San Jose (aka Silicon Valley) are amber in color, and depicted as such in the painting. City light ‘pollution’ can interfere with the night skies, so the city of San Jose and the observatory cooperated to install special LPS lights which does not interfere with the astronomical activities.

I painted this scene just a few miles from my home, just up the hills on Chaboya Road right after sunset. Quimby Creek was not running, but there were a few puddles, so I put just a hint of the creek in the lower left with a little reflected moonlight. Here are a few picts painting in the dark…
Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

As previously mentioned, this is my first nocturne. I promised myself at the start of this quest I would challenge myself to try new things. Nocturnes are a little difficult for those who haven’t done them, primarily because it is hard to judge values and colors in the dark with just small lights, so I did this in two sessions. I first scoped out the place, and then painted most of the sky and the general values in the land part. After taking it back to the studio and checking it under normal lighting to make sure the values were OK, I then went out the next evening and finished the rest of the piece. Using a LED headband for light worked out pretty well.

After painting this, during my research, I found out about the Quimby Road Jogger, a ghost that appears on the road at midnight. Maybe I’ll paint somewhere else for my next nocturne!

Next week is the Los Gatos Art Festival in which I am participating, so there will not be a Creeks painting. Look for some posts on Facebook or this weblog for my adventures there.


Click this link for a map of all painting locations along with each painting.
Click on this link for a Pinterest catalog of all paintings so far.


***Email subscribers may not see all pictures. Just click on the title for a link to the online version.

2 thoughts on “ThirtyEight: Late”

  1. Hi Donald, Love your painting – but being totally pedantic, I had guessed that you threw the moon in on a whim, and that it wasn’t really there at the time the sun was setting … The reason is that when the moon is setting shortly after the sun, i.e. both are in the western sky, it is only a sliver. A full moon rises at the time the sun sets, so it is on the eastern side of the sky. (Told you I was being pedantic!) Cheers, Margaret

  2. Margaret,
    Thanks for the note, and it is not the first time I have been corrected for using a little artistic license. The moon was there, but behind my left shoulder, so moved it forward, and I did emphasize the afterglow of the sunset.
    Best, Donald

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