"Sycamore Moon", pastel, 14" x 20" © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Captivating Sycamore Moon

"Sycamore Moon", pastel, 14" x 20" © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Sycamore Moon”, pastel, 14″ x 20″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Today’s full moon is the last full moon of winter, when she sits like a pearl strung in a mesh of bare branches. This is most often called the Worm Moon, but I had always known it as the Sap Moon or the Sugar Moon because the sugar begins to flow in sugar maple trees around this time. Whatever name is used, this is likely the last time we’ll see a full moon within completely bare branches.

I named this painting “Sycamore Moon” for the two large sycamore trees that stand near the entrance of the Panhandle Trail. Because they grow against a hill I don’t see them from this angle against the sky until I am headed back home, nearly at the trailhead, and often at dusk, especially the early dusk of a winter night. Because the light changes so quickly at that time of day I knew there was no way I’d be able to capture the scene en plein air, so I photographed it almost every time I saw it. I guess I really wanted to paint this scene, and for my 2016 Panhandle Trail exhibit I decided it was time.

I debated among media to use. I wanted the smooth solid color of the cold winter evening sky to the east, I wanted each branch and twig to be clear, and I wanted it to look almost monochromatic, capturing the l’heure bleu. Though I’d always imagined a watercolor I decided on pastel, mostly because I could feel my hand drawing the twisted twigs. To achieve the smooth background I used colored pastel paper, Canson Mi Tientes, on the smooth side, because the blue was just what I wanted for a cold winter dusk. I drew the shadows and characteristic mottling of a sycamore tree on the trunks and branches in dark warm gray pastel, not black, because in moonlight shadows are softened. The highlights in light warm gray, then added just touches of blue for the mid-range shadows. The moon is in pure white with its familiar grayish shapes on the glowing white surface that make it recognizably our moon, and resting among the somewhat gnarled sycamore branches.

This painting was included in 2016: Sun Shadow Ice & Snow, Seasons on the Panhandle Trail.


Sycamore Moon, Pastel is 12″ x 18″ in soft pastel on blue Canson pastel paper. The original is sold. Prints on paper and canvas are available as are framed prints with a single white black core mat and choices of frame style.


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See more art from 2016: Sun Shadow Ice & Snow, Seasons on the Panhandle Trail.

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