Carl Bretzke

Carl Bretzke: NOCTURNES - Painting the Night


Video Length: 9 Hours
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What’s exciting about the Nocturnes: Painting the Night course:

  • The “Six-Step System” to creating successful nocturnes
  • Differentiate yourself and surprise others with nocturnes
  • How to paint nighttime lit and shadowy snow
  • Tricks to painting realistic reflections
  • How to apply paint in illuminated areas so you can avoid “mud” colors
  • How to literally “see” in the dark and make better color choices
  • The magic of “color shifting” and how to improve your prismatic color painting skills
  • Nocturne secrets no book can tell you, and how they improve your daylight paintings
  • The best tools to help you create glowing effects more easily
  • Learn the fascinating science of light and how to apply it to your nocturnes
  • How to create gorgeous glows around lights
  • Light source positioning tips (vital lesson)
  • Painting intriguing “whiteless” white for extra effect.
  • How to make a local color change when in light vs. when in shadow
  • The little-known trick to enhancing the reality of the painting
  • How to improve transitions between light and shadow
  • The secrets to atmospheric color blending
  • The quickest and easiest way to choose great nocturne subjects
  • 2 detailed step-by-step painting demonstrations
  • 1 bonus lesson on painting nocturnes on location
  • High-speed video of Carl’s demo painting
  • PLUS: A special interview with Carl by Eric Rhoads
  • And much, much more!


Before becoming a full-time professional artist, Carl Bretzke practiced interventional radiology for a number of years. Carl’s experience in the medical world gave him an almost superhuman ability to discern subtle differences in values and shapes.

And years of practice gave him phenomenal hand-eye coordination.

Those two skills happen to be crucial in art!

This is probably why he’s able to create truly magical and captivating nocturnes...

His admiring followers often say his paintings exude the feeling of solitude and tranquility.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to do that?

Imagine being able to paint a night scene that gets viewers to feel its beauty

Imagine painting a scene that allows your viewers to reminisce about their yesteryears…

Imagine creating believable and beautiful nocturnes that pull viewers into the scene!

If you want to know how, then look no further...

Because Carl — well known for his nocturne paintings — is going to share his mystical techniques in a brand new course called Nocturnes: Painting the Night.

By the way, you definitely do not need any sort of medical skills...

Because Carl will teach you how to paint a nocturne (outside and in the studio) from start to finish — no matter your experience level.

Painting nocturnes can be frustrating and confusing without a systematic, step-by-step approach…

Carl will share with you his personal “Six-Step System” for creating successful nocturnes consistently.

Inside the course, you’ll discover “atmosphere-capturing” techniques, advanced “illumination brushwork,” his “Blended Method” technique to create gorgeous halos, and much more!

You’ll discover the secrets to painting realistic vehicles at night… to make neon glow … how to create light halo effects … how to use artificial light sources the right way…

You’ll learn how to subtly change the color of the sky so it reads like reality.

You’ll discover the specific tools to help you create believable glowing effects.

Carl will also reveal tons of brushwork tips for unifying, blending, and putting paint down delicately.

And that’s not all — here’s what’s inside the Nocturnes: Painting the Night course:

The “Six-Step System” to Creating Successful Nocturnes

Carl says the most challenging part for an artist approaching a nocturne is knowing how to start. 

You need a proven system for approaching, developing, and completing a successful nocturne. 

Carl will show you the exact six-step system he uses every time to produce atmospheric nocturnes like clockwork.

You’ll soon realize how important it is to paint in the proper sequence.

Differentiate Yourself with Nocturnes

Carl will show you new ways of thinking about lights and darks and how to masterfully apply your newfound understanding to your paintings...

This course will teach new skills to help you stand out from the crowded field of landscape and cityscape painters.

You’re going to have something different that might surprise your followers and buyers … and even attract the attention of galleries!


Chapter Breakdown

  • Introduction 
  • Understanding Nocturnes
  • Materials


DEMO 1: Single Light Source

Step 1: Drawing--basic drawing with paint of the subject

Step 2: Block In Darks--thin paint to cover the surface for all the darks around and within the subject. Paint around light and lighter objects. 

Step 3: Block In the Halo--paint the single light source and how to paint a halo

Step 4: Block In Illuminated Areas--TIP: err on the side of putting things down too dark. How to make a white object read as white without using white. How to make a local color change when in light versus when in shadow. Tips on how subtle differences in color can make all the difference to enhance the reality of the painting

Step 5: Develop Sky & Grass--use a soft touch to apply another layer of paint, changing color from cool to warm as approaching light source. The importance of a lost edge. Design the trees by painting around them with the sky color

Step 6: Final Touches --improve color and transitions between light and shadow, adjust any dark spots missed, add bright reflectors where needed


DEMO 2: Multiple Light Sources & Neon

Step 1: Drawing--basic drawing with paint of the subject. Concentrate on major shapes. Lots of proportion and perspective tips 

Step 2: Block In Darks--thin paint to cover the surface for all the darks around and within the subject. Paint around light and lighter objects.  

Step 3: Block In Sky & Light Sources--paint the light sources and how to paint a halo for different types and temperatures of light, and the differences in painting halos on lights at different distances. How to change color subtly in the sky so that it reads like reality. Carl uses a Blended Method of making halos (versus impressionistic). Lots of brushwork tips for unifying and blending and putting paint down delicately, TIP: and what to do to prevent glare

Step 4: Block In Entire Scene--TIP on how to apply paint in illuminated areas so you can AVOID MUD colors. Prismatic color shifts, color temperature. How to paint night time lit and shadowy snow. TIP on how to paint realistic reflections  

Step 5: Adjust & Improve--such as how to paint convincing depth with value transitions, perspective adjustments that make your painting read more lifelike, TIP for how to paint realistic lettering

Step 6: Add Details--such as reflections to make pavement read as wet, to help give reality to the scene with signs and poles--allowing the brain to fill in some of the blanks,

Step 7: Final Touches-- how to paint figures in light and shadow, add dark darks and bright reflectors



  • Painting Nocturnes on Location -- a fun and educational look at how Carl paints outdoors at nights, with take-home tips you can apply to your own experiences 


Customer Reviews

Based on 21 reviews
Keith Demanche
Carl Bretzke: NOCTURNES - Painting the Night

Great explanations, detailed and lots of painting time. Lighting effects are explained and shown multiple times to reinforce the method.

Superb instruction!

This video was recommended by a PAL21 attendee (PleinAir Live 2021). I thoroughly enjoyed this video by Carl Bretzke. Not one, but two full painting demos make this a tremendous value. Carl explains his process in detail with every stroke of the brush. I feel much more confident about painting a nocturne and capturing subtle lighting effects. This is a great video to return to again and again.


A fantastic video. I return to it every few weeks to rewatch it. 10/10

Terry Werntz
True Nocturnals

Carl does such a great job of explaining how to approach painting night scenes. He truly understands the night and how to go about painting the different light effects. This video is a must for anyone wanting to paint the night. He is a true master of Nocturnes. In addition to his wonderful video he was a great resource in helping me as I created my first night painting.

Alicia Medina
Truly inspiring

Great artist and instructor-well prepared and inspiring.
A gem to anyone trying to understand the principles of night light and color