Thursday, December 18, 2014

Inspired by Rembrandt...

A Man in a Room - 1630
   I sometimes think we photographers do not spend enough time studying the works of famous painters.  We could find much to inspire us and  I would recommend you begin with Rembrandt.

   How Rembrandt used light in his paintings was revolutionary at the time.  Imagine leaving nearly half of the painting in nearly complete darkness!  The title of this work may be "A Man in a Room" but it is all about the light.

   James Turrell is an artist who is also all about the light.  He even dares to speculate that light is a "thing" and that it has consciousness. That is every bit as revolutionary as Rembrandt's use of light in this painting.

   Whether you concur with Turrell's ideas or not, it is a fascinating way to look at a concept that has pervaded all religions across millenniums.  It is a metaphor that resonates with everyone and light is an essential part of our consciousness at the very least.

   As we slowly but surely slip into the dark days of December,  thinking about light is something I do everyday now.  Many people hate these long dark days but I covet them.  There is a quality to December light that is unique.  It is an in-turning time and I deliberately try to use as few of my electric lights as possible preferring to embrace the darkness instead.  It is no wonder candles play such an important role at this time of year.  For me, candle light pulsates with a living essence.

   This might be a good time to explore ways you can imagine light in your photographs.  What does it mean to you?  Is it merely the absence of darkness or is it more?  In what ways can its "thingness" be demonstrate?

   I think Rembrandt would say that light has a presence and importance that we seldom take the time to acknowledge and I agree.  I have a Pinterest board dedicated to just this idea...acknowledging and paying tribute to the light.  At this time of deepening darkness you might like to visit...



4 comments:

John O said...

As one enters into the Rembrandt space, one becomes conscious of light as a presence and darkness as an absence. Perhaps Turrell is onto something. John

Patricia Turner said...

I think he might be, John. Light may be a grand metaphor but it may be so much more...

colorpoems said...

I love the short days of winter. I find them comforting and love the time it gives to devote to self, going inward.
When I read this post, I had just turned on a song I love, by a christian rock band called - I Can Only Imagine. I felt that it was fitting. The light in this image is beautiful - it is spiritual - it is glorious. Thank you...

Patricia Turner said...

Thank you! I believe Rembrandt treated light in his work as a spiritual presence...it certainly has that effect for me.