Acrylic on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
It is actually from French and Latin (nocturnal/nocturnis) referring to a piece of music that makes one think of the night--somehow.
Not sure how it made the jump to the art world, but nocturne has also come to be known for a painting in which the motif is shown in the nighttime or evening. It has become its very own category of painting in painting competitions, paint-ins/outs, painting exhibitions, and the like.
All it takes for it to be a Nocturne is that it's at night (or evening). Simple, except that you have to paint everything in "the dark."
It's way different from painting a landscape, or anything, in the daytime. However, there still has to be a light source. The sun has to be setting or have set, or the moon must be full or almost. Any other light will be from a man-made, artificial source, such as a street lamp or sign.
Also, most of the fore-, mid-, and backgrounds are painted dark, the values are darker, and colors have much less chroma. You get to use colors you may not use very often, which can be fun, and probably aren't on your regular color palette--raw umber, Prussian blue, ivory black, dioxizine purple, and maybe an assortment of warm and cool grays.
I like to think of it as sort of like painting while wearing sunglasses. It's somewhat of a brain-teaser in that you have to think differently and outside your comfort zone from your usual methods.
Anyway, that's what makes it a new challenge, which most painters need now and again.