There is a field behind my house. It is beautiful, with trees in the distance and rolling hills all around. Many acres of land are in conservation easement near us, so the effect is one of open space and calm serenity. I never tire of looking out of my bedroom window in the morning when I rise, or again at night before I go to bed.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been taken with the way the field looks at night, because in the winter, it’s particularly evocative. There’s a longing, a poignancy, a call to something higher, that I feel when I see it before I go to bed. I walk to the window, and I watch, and I try to remember how everything looks, because I’ve been pulled to paint a nocturne of that scene. It stirs something in me, something deep, something I want … and need … to express.

Part of what makes the scene so compelling are the few lights from a house in the distance. All is dark, deep indigo, the snow undulating in different values of blue when the moon is out, eerie, mystifying. Contrasted against that mystery are small, orange/yellow dots that glow bright and pierce the darkness with warmth and hopefulness. I’ve never met the people who live in that house, and I wonder who they are and what they’re doing. One can’t help but feel a longing for connection when gazing out upon a scene like this.

The nocturne really wanted to be painted. It actually haunted me for a couple of days in the studio, strange as that may sound. I ignored its pull, and as a result, my attempts to paint more florals to go with the series I’ve been developing failed miserably. I finally realized I was beaten, and began the nocturne.

Initially, I envisioned thick paint and expressive gesture. Nope. That wasn’t going to happen. The mood didn’t match. I put my mind’s eye in front of the bedroom window gazing out, and allowed the painting to tell me what it needed to. This is what it wanted to be. Quiet. Elusive. Mysterious. Like the longings we have in the night.

Day 17 of the 30 Day Painting Challenge is called “Neighbors Across the Field.”