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.