One of Ryder’s goals was to depict mood and to suggest mysterious, supernatural forces in his paintings. What mood do you think is shown in this painting? How does Ryder convey this? How does he use shapes and colors to achieve his aims?
Ryder used a palette knife in addition to brushes to create this painting. How did the palette knife technique add to the character or mood of the work? Make your own painting using different tools, such as your fingers, stamps or sponges.
The surface of this painting has many cracks due to the artist’s experimentation with materials. Mix a material such as sand or sugar into paint like Ryder did, and make your own painting. How do the new ingredients change the appearance of a work of art?
Imagine you are walking on this beach at night. What sounds do you hear? Is anyone else there? What would the beach look like if the cloud in the sky covered the moon? Describe how the atmosphere makes you feel.
Find the boat in this painting. Write a story about this boat—who owns it, what might it be used for? What is it doing on this deserted beach at night?
Ryder was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Research New Bedford and find out about the town’s major industry in the nineteenth century. Does Moonlit Cove reflect what was important in this town?
Research how the moon affects the ocean’s tides.