Painter of Moonlight! (Encouragement for Creators)

Reflection on the Thames, Westminster, 1880

You’ve probably never heard of John Atkinson Grimshaw, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen his work. His evocative Victorian landscapes are frequently reprinted as posters, or used to illustrate the covers of classic mystery novels. Today, among those in the know, Grimshaw is the acknowledged master of the Nocturne, a style of painting that depicts night scenes, or subjects veiled in twilight. James Abbott McNeill Whistler — well known for one of the world’s most famous paintings, Whistler’s Mother — once remarked, “I considered myself the inventor of Nocturnes until I saw Grimmy’s moonlit pictures.”

Boar Lane, Leeds, 1881
A Street at Night

Grimshaw created night-scapes of amazingly accurate color and lighting. He gave his work such vivid detail and realism, that it’s been described as “sharply focused, almost photographic.” Grimshaw frequently depicted city street scenes and moonlit views of the docks in London and Glasgow; but he managed to capture only the charm, and none of the grit and grime of the Victorian Industrial Age.

On Hampstead Hill, 1881

On Hampstead Hill is considered one of Grimshaw’s finest works, a night-scape that exemplifies his skill at capturing the mood of the passing of twilight into night. So adept was Grimshaw at painting lighting effects that he was able to capture both the mood and the minutest details of a scene. He could capture the seasons of the year, or the type of weather; and his “paintings of dampened gas-lit streets and misty waterfronts conveyed an eerie warmth….” His work was popular with London’s middle class, and it sold well and quickly. When you look at his vivid lighting effects, you may understand why we like to think of Grimshaw as the Thomas Kinkade of his day.

Liverpool from Wapping, 1885

Not much is known of Grimshaw’s life. Unlike most painters of his time, Grimshaw did not leave behind any journals or letters. We do know that he was born September 6, 1836 in Leeds. In 1856 he married, and in 1861, at the age of 24, he shocked his parents with the news he was giving up a stable and well-paying job as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway, to become a painter. And he struggled for eight years, painting birds and fruit, before he developed his unique style and found success.

In the Golden Gloaming

On the back of one of his canvases, Dulce Domum (1855), Grimshaw wrote, “mostly painted under great difficulties.” But John Atkinson Grimshaw wanted to pursue art, and he was willing to pay his dues. We present his lovely work today, to move you and inspire you. If you’re a novelist or a composer or an illustrator, it’s “visual music” to create by.

Southwark Bridge and St. Paul’s

“There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars….” (1 Corinthians 15:41 HCSB)


Dream Again! (Diet for Dreamers)



It’s faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living. (Oliver Wendall Holmes, Sr., Physician, author and lecturer, 1809-1894)

Ever had a school teacher scold you for having your “head in the clouds”? Sure, daydreaming while you should be paying attention is counterproductive, but on the other hand, we all need dreams to be healthy and happy. Having a dream, a goal to accomplish, a project to complete, adds to our sense of purpose and self-worth—which in turn helps to give us hope. And we NEED hope! Without hope we lose spirit and eventually stop truly living. We lose our enthusiasm for life, and we find ourselves just going through the motions of everyday existence, shuffling along mindlessly like one of those zombies in Night of the Living Dead: no heart, no soul.

Forget milk. Got enthusiasm? Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, founder of the inspirational magazine Guide-posts, wrote several volumes on the subject, but he managed to sum up the main idea in a single book title: Enthusiasm Makes the Difference!

Dr. Peale once wrote, “There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.” Interestingly, the word enthusiasm means “full of God,” which shouldn’t be too surprising because, after all, it’s God who created each of us and then filled us with life. So take heart when things go wrong, because God loves you, and He cares about you!

“Yes,” you may think, “but does God care about my hopes and dreams?” Indeed He does! Read these words aloud:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’”   (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

So trust God, and dream again!

“How do you go from where you are to where you wanna be? …I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. And you have to be willing to work for it.” (Jim Valvano, NCSU Basketball coach and broadcaster, 1946-1993)

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet and lecturer, 1803-1882)