What Makes A Painting Work Art Blog
Painting is about light. Art portraying dusk to the darkest night deals with light in three interesting ways.
There are works give us only the natural light of the night, largely dependent on moonlight but even the ambient light of a moonless night has form if few hints of color. It takes a deft handling of color and value to depict that soft world of dusk or of moonglow. Moonless or clouded nights are largely value studies. Two masters of the night who painted in California's central coast region approximately a century ago are Charles Rollo Peters and Gottardo Piazzoni.
Artificial light may be the focal point or the theme of the painting. Sometimes this is the glowy cottages of Thomas Kincaid, and the window lights on a Christmas card scene. It is a Robert Henri New York Street, James McNeill Whistler's "Snow in Chelsea", the lights that wall out the background in Picasso's "Le Moulin de la Galette", or the lights that dominate the café in van Gogh's "The Night Café".
Or the material of the painting may be caught in the artificial light with the darkness surrounding or beyond the central objects or figures. It is a light in which certain elements glow in not quite natural color, at least not the color that the sun reveals or that of which the full moon finds a ghost. Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" is such an example, where the stark light and looming darkness seem to suggest a lonely and dangerous world. Similarly the light in the foreground of Picasso's "Le Moulin de la Galette" intensifies the lights and darks of the faces and clothing on the crowd caught in the safe circle of light.
On a gentler plane, we have the neon quality to the persimmon orange and those blues in the tree trunk, the snow, and the fence of my own "Persimmons in Winter". In other elements of the painting the light is flattened and weak. The distance has a limited dim light range and then is darker than it would be without the man made lights.
Persimmons lend themselves well to such a portrayal, as their color far exceeds the intensity of any surrounding object in a winter exterior. A light dusting of snow sets off the darkness beyond. The branches of the tree extend to the borders of the painting and beyond. The dark night sky creates an interesting rhythm of negative spaces, varied in color and size. The fence line creates a low horizon. A focal point is created by placing the largest persimmon in one of the smaller dark sections surrounded by white branches. Various elements contribute to the painting, but the unique cast of man-made lighting into the darkness is an essential part of it.