title: moonlight on the bay 2020
Vincent van Gogh painted yellow stars in a night blue sky. [ e.g." The Starry Night" 1889] . He is quoted as saying , " I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day ". I think so too.
For the past number of months, I have been focused on putting darker darks and lighter lights on to my canvases. It is a continuing challenge that I am taking up this year as I work on a new series of paintings , " Let there be light " .... focusing on moonlight in all of its glory and sunlight- especially the dramatic sunrises and sunsets that I am able to enjoy - a true gift given to me in my new island home . But also, I am attempting to recreate the beauty of dark colours within the darkness of a form . In nature, there are a myriad of shades of brown and gray and otherwise neutral colours that bring us into the dark forms to give us comfort and solace in a way that perhaps bright , bold colours do not .Earthy colours seem to bring us a calm and peace of mind. It is why walking in the country, or in the forest is a worthwhile spiritual exercise if not a religious one .
Henri Matisse said this about light : " A picture must possess a real power to generate light , and for a long time now I've been conscious of expressing myself through light, or rather in light". The word power is a strong word and one I think about as I critique my latest paintings.
The Spanish painter, Joaquin Sorolla, is known for a style of painting described as luminism, literally, " the painting of light". Sorella said ,
" I hate darkness. Claude Monet once said that painting in general did not have enough light in it." I agree with this more and more, as I work on my own canvases and as I view countless paintings that just don't offer enough variation and emphasis on light . But when I study a famous painting - say a landscape , what is it that draws us in? Might I suggest that the magic of light or the absence of same might have something to do with our reaction .
Mark Rothko [ American Abstract Expressionist painter; 1903-1970] is known for paintings described as " glowing pulsating fields of unbroken colour". He worked to " radiate light" in his large scale works and indicated that his artistic mission was to " express the basic human emotions- tragedy, ecstasy, and so on". Is this then, what a painter is attempting when trying to capture light on canvas? From a symbolic point of view, if one studies early religious paintings, experts suggest that the light source symbolizes hope, guidance or divinity - and sometimes magic if one looks at the darker sources surrounding the light. In other words, light in early paintings was created to draw a strong emotional reaction from the viewer. The dark colours on the other hand- greys /black shades were used to symbolize mystery ,evil, fear, sorrow, secret, etc.
Paul Cezanne said something about light that has captivated me in my own practice : " Light is a thing that cannot be reproduced, but must be represented by something else- by colour". As I describe myself as a colourist, and my painting as " colour hieroglyphics" - the telling of stories through colour, the process of painting and mixing dark colours against other dark colours in form and the mixing of colours to create a kind of emotional reaction to the light colours against the dark results in a representation of light . Edgar Degas contemplated that " Daylight is too easy. What I want is difficult: the atmosphere of lamps or moonlight". Again, I am beginning to understand this statement as I experiment with moonlight in all of its many colours and resulting stories.
I will leave you with this quote from Meister Johann Eckhart : " Truly , it is in the darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us " . I look forward to sharing my new work with you this year .