Friday, September 12, 2008

Monday Morning

Oil on Panel
24 x 11

This is a painting about light. If you've been paying attention and have a really good memory you may remember this window from a watercolor of an old church posted a year or so ago. That was a foggy winter day, this is a bright, sunny day making for a completely different feeling. Light changes everything, and light is really what painting is all about, at least the way I paint. There's a saying that light defines color and texture and shadow defines form. Look at the wood textures in this piece. In the light the textures are much more defined and important. In the shadows the texture is more limited to the flaking paint. The shadows define the clapboards and the shape of the window in general. And look at the difference in color. The shadows are a warm almost uniform gray while the light is a mixture of light ochres and siennas. The color of the light is of the utmost importance in feel. This is a relatively warm light which would indicate a late spring or summer day, probably in the mid to late morning. If it were warmer it would make you feel like it was earlier morning, not long after sunup. The angle and length of the shadows would be an important indicator too. If it were a cooler light, it would be more likely to feel like a winter day. So if you look really closely and pay attention, it is entirely possible to tell an entire story with nothing but light. At the very least you can use it to define a mood in whatever you're trying to do.

If this is interesting to you, might I suggest you look at Giovanni Bellini's St Francis in Ecstasy in the Frick collection. He was one of the earlier users of light to unify a painting. In that one he uses a greenish light which really enhances the feeling of something out the ordinary going on. There's some real interesting compositional things going on too. One of my favorite all time paintings. Maybe it deserves a post all its own.

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