14. Inspiration through light.

Today, I arose early...at least for me. In my studio area the morning light is particularly good for painting with a large east-facing window over my shoulder. The light is good all day, but certainly diminishes in these shorter winter afternoons. I mention this because it speaks to light, and how important it is in influencing atmosphere and mood in all my work. Whether it's 2 or 3 dimensional work, the source of light and how it falls on a sculptural piece or how it affects tone and hue, cast shadows, shadow areas, highlights and simply the warmth or coolness of a subject I'm endeavouring to portray is one of the key elements. They say without light there would be very little definition between objects, and certainly no hard edges. Tonally close, nature would just meld into itself, eliminating the tension and drama that many great landscape artists rely upon for their dynamic compositions. Last week I attended the Royal B.C. Museum annual Wildlife Photographers exhibition. I was impressed by the variety of techniques and nature's ability to always surprise you with it's wonder. But what was particularly amazing was the creative use of light and light sources that were used to capture wildlife in their natural habitat. Often the dynamics created by a directional source of light was the key ingredient to a successful image. Because I was already in the area I decided to also visit the Robert Bateman Gallery. Although known for his technical knowlege and realistic portrayal of animals in the natural world, to me his real strength is as a landscape painter and how he utilizes light in all his work. His always-accurate and dynamically constructed compositions are masterful. The visit to the gallery was both inspiring and humbling, but I was able to study Bateman's technique and brushwork up close, learning a few things in the process. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Until next time...