12/03/2003: "Lights, camera, depression"
I'm really starting to notice how dark it's getting. Southeast Alaska doesn't get dark as early as in the Interior, or even Anchorage, but it's bad enough. It's dark when I wake up in the morning, dark when I get off work, in fact, it's getting dark around 3:30pm. They have light boxes set up in the university caffeteria for students to sit in front of to combat SAD (seasonal affective disorder) caused from a lack of sunlight.
Evan as an artist I never fully comprehended the importance of light on color until I moved to Alaska. I would be painting in my dim little studio and I would think the piece looked fantastic and then it would look totally different up on the gallery walls. Now here in Douglas, I'd guess that it's overcast about 80% of the year...so most of the time the natural "light" is diffuse at best.
Also, when you take into account that most of Southeast Alaska is a deciduous rain forest, the main colors I see are green and gray...and subdued green and gray no less. I think it makes the colors on sunny days seem unnaturally vibrant, but I like the contrast. I think I need to paint in such bright complimentary colors because Mother Nature is using the dimmer switch on me.
Speaking of which, It makes a big difference the kind of lightbulb you use while your painting. Most generic light bulbs have a yellow cast to them. Working with video has also made me a lot more concious of how artificial light changes the colors we see. Now I alway paint using Reveal light bulbs because they create more of a white light that is similar to what is used in most galleries. So it isn't such a suprise to see how my finished pieces will look once they're hanging on the wall.
I was thinking I could paint everything I would be normally interested in painting, only in the dark. Everything painted in the dark with dark colors like Rembrandt's chiaroscuro. I used to paint nothing but shadows. I wonder whatever happened to them?
"Anyone who has common-sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees anyone whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter life, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the den."--Plato