Piecing The Light

posted in: Blog, Uncategorized | 11

Since antiquity we have gathered sparkling stones and assembled them into sacred objects. Gemstones were thought to have their own inner light and embodied a metaphysical channel to a mystical divine realm. They were therefore used to ornament sacred crowns, reliquaries and altars.

Finding objects that could reflect light, especially colored light served to enliven dark interiors like churches and temples and, to animate the stories described there. An early form of enlivening pictures with theirown light was the use of mosaics.  Sacred and royal subjects could be brought to sparkling splendor and life in well designed mosaics as you see in example 1 from Ravenna in 548 CE.

Example 1. Mosaic from San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy of the Empress Theodora and members of her court.

More affecting than the reflected light from ceramic tiles were jewels and, later, stained glass.  With stained glass the light pierces the translucent panel and the colors truly radiate.  The pieces of stained glass were not easily manufactured. They had to be small and pieced together in a manner reminiscent of earlier mosaics. Consider example 2, an interior corona in the cathedral at Canterbury by William the Englishman in 1180.  This is an early example of stained glass and relies on an assembled matrix of small pieces of glass.

Example 2.  Stained glass from the Cathedral in Canterbury in 1180,

My fascination with piecing together shards of glass and reflective bits of mosaic ceramics has been a motivation in painting landscapes as I have mentioned previously in these blog posts.  Today I return to my quest to harvest patterns and techniques from the past to invest vitality and cultural history in my work.

In my example you can see how my blue patches parallel the patterning of mosaics and stained glass. But, radiance can also come from bright light values in contrast with their color complements and, luminosity can come from dissolved edges sharing close bright values. Both of these conditions are also present in my following example.

I begin with step one (example 3) which is a blended laying in of colors with a horizontal design but, a vertical stroking of color. Step two (example 4) demonstrates how I built a cross hatching matrix with excised open shapes to prepare them for later applications of pure color. In step three (example 5) I present varied patterns of blue laid in a mosaic-like pattern.  They transition from more saturated color in the lower area to become lighter as they ascend the picture plane . This helps suggest a feeling of space.

Example 3. Step one of the Farm Pond Mosaic,

Example 4. Step two of the Farm Pond Mosaic,

Example 5. Step three of the Farm Pond Mosaic.

I hope you can join me for an opening exhibit of 37 of my  new paintings at Susan Powell Fine Art, 679 Boston Post Road in Madison, Ct. The reception is this Friday, June 1st from 5 to 8 PM.  You are invited. If you have any questions you can call the gallery at 203 318 0616.


11 Responses

  1. Jodi Murphy

    Thanks for sharing your steps for this amazing painting. I am sure it took a while to complete all the detail work.

  2. Joan DI Stefano

    Dear David.
    Thank you for your wonderful blog entry regarding piecing light. In regards to the Ravenna mosaic though, the mosaic is also glass. Not ceramic bits, the pieces are glass paste called smalti that is hardened in a kiln, and then cut to shape .
    Your painting is wonderful!

  3. Sheila Klein

    Delightful,I do wish I could join you.From across the pond.

  4. Fredric Neuwirth

    The reflection of the yellow light on the water is very effective and generates space due to the indistinctness between light and shadow. The blue glaze at the front of the painting moves the image back. Very nice!

  5. Darlene Tri'chell

    WOW ! I just watched you for the first time on PBS painting a landscape in Venice. Absolutely beautiful. Love the light in your paintings !!!!!!

  6. Penny Hicks

    I enjoy your show on PBS.
    Just discovered tour website and blog.
    Truly educational and inspiring. I will use your techniques with fabric.

  7. Rick Furnace

    In describing example 4, you state “…excised open shapes to prepare them for later applications of pure color.” How did you “excise open shapes” in your painting?

    Best regards,
    Rick Furnace

  8. Kenneth Wright

    Your art eorks are unique and complex in execution, but simplified in explanation. Your use of the Canterbury stained glass for your teaching is rich and contextual for us visual learners. Thank you.

  9. Sheila Leach

    Love your work David, so original and exciting ?
    Wish we could get your programs in England!

  10. kathy

    love your show and recent work. I have a degree in fine art and have learned more from your show than 4 years of college. you are an amazing teacher!

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