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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Winter Light

And Dark

Winter light has its own particular beauty in Italy. Or, better, the shadows of winter there are particularly beautiful, long and deep, and quickly changing, falling on complex surfaces of manmade stone, shaped earth, and a landscape that balances Nature’s beauty with ours. Capturing the light in fickle winter is different than under the long, continuous sun of summer. On a late December afternoon the sun moves swiftly. I made two studies of a small city gate in afternoon light, each one a 45-minute exercise. Between one and the other the shadows, castfrom distant forms, slide over the surfaces. The sky too is different, lighter (especially toward the horizon), silhouetting the trees that stand starkly against it.

30 December 2013
1. between 14:30 and 15:15
2. between 15:15 and 16:00
This is the light, I believe, of Bellini’s Feast of the Gods, which recent scholarship reads as a winter allegory; the quality of light, the silhouetted trees, make that season explicit for anyone who has been lucky enough to eat well al fresco in Italy in the coldest season. Bellini’s Veneto, or my Tuscany, are compelling subjects for both plein air and classical studio painting. 

Working within the constraints of on site painting makes working at this time of year more of a matter of studies than paintings proper.

Giovanni Bellini, The Feast of the Gods

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