“A Nymph in the Forest” – One of my favorites. Look at how the light bounces off the surface of her skin and hair! It creates a subtle glowing effect.


Photograph of Charles-Amable Lenoir (1860-1926)

Charles-Amable Lenoir was born in Châtellaillon in France in 1860. I wanted to share his work with you today because he was an incredibly skilled artist, with a remarkable ability to harness values and contrast in his paintings. He also mastered the delicate dance of balancing soft and hard edges. His figures almost look like they are glowing! It really is quite the sight to behold.

I hope you enjoy this article featuring his ethereal and dreamy paintings!



“Love’s Whisper”

This painting feels so soft and gentle, I love how the technique mimics the title of the piece.




“The Flute Player”



I love how her hair almost disappears in the background, but our brain fills in the missing details, and it still feels believable due to the artist painting in a headband and floral accent, indicating where the hair stops. Again, her skin almost appears as if it’s glowing, with a subdued halo effect contrasting with the dark background.



This one seems almost uncharacteristically dark (in value, not in subject matter) for Lenoir, but the exaggerated moonlight contrasting with the heavy shadows creates a striking effect.


“The Young Shepherdess”

I appreciate the shape and value patterns in this piece. There are accents of hard edges amidst a sea of softer edges, and it really helps bring balance and contrast.


Detail of “The Young Shepherdess”


“La Bergere”

Lenoir is a master of value control. With “La Bergere” the background is low contrast, as well as the figure in the front, but he uses value to create contrast. I also like the leading line from the bottom-left of the painting, taking us right to her face – the focal point. He also added the thistle plant and the rock in the foreground to help frame and anchor the composition.


“Joan of Arc”

I really love how the diagonal shafts of light quietly interact with the painting, and the balance of contrast in different areas of the composition.


“Day Dreams”


Detail of “Day Dreams”

Just look at those hands! The softness of the hair, to the point where it’s almost abstract, is incredible, as well as the subdued lighting and the subtle values of the hands. Notice how the value in between the fingers is still quite high, yet they still read as separate fingers. I love the quiet nature of the blue vein running down her hand, lending realism to the piece.


“La Morte De Sapho”

This one feels even softer and quieter than a lot of his other works, which is saying something. I like the texture he created for the bubbles, and the overall gradient, evoking that feeling of sinking.

Another feature to point out is the contrast between the sharp edge of her arm vs. the soft edge of her back.

“La Baigneuse”

I love the warm, pink dappled lighting in play with the cool hues of her skin. You can even see patches of blues and lavenders in her skin. Notice the warm points on her skin, i.e. her elbow, below her hip, her knees, toes, fingers, etc. The technique is quite delicate, yet effective.



Thanks for taking a moment with me to appreciate the incredible work of Charles-Amable Lenoir. The love he had for his craft is palpable and inspiring – I can only hope that same passion exudes from my own work, and I’m sure you feel the same for your own!