Out of the darkness, so many stories unfold into the light

[ezcol_1half] [/ezcol_1half][ezcol_1half_end]Darkness – journeys by night are lit by the beauty of moving headlights, pulsating shop signs, the glow of the setting sun or the brightness of the rising moon. Driving has been such a big part of my life seeing these pastel paintings of roads and cities at night capturing the feeling of movement and mood makes me smile. The atmospheric images  of darkness that Damion Maxwell has posted on ArtFinder have made me think about so many moments from my life over the last 18 months. The pastel work is wonderfully drawn.[/ezcol_1half_end]

Damion is observing what’s around him and capturing it. Such a simple thing to say, but a really challenging thing to do, when you’ve chosen nighttime for the subjects.  I love the way he appears to have painted with fast and free strokes of soft bright pastels. The perspective leads me through the pictures, but I just have to stop off several times on the way to look at other bits of action. Vibrant colours are singing off of the black background. A fleeting moment captured, giving an impression of the rush and steady stream of traffic moving.

The darkness really comes alive in “Drama on the hard shoulder” which appears to be just a random shot of vehicles travelling along the road. However, it’s one of those paintings which you can enjoy from a distance but you really should look closer. You gradually see more and more. So many individual stories – who is in what vehicle? Where have they been? Where are they going? Will the traveller broken down reach their destination? All the time the blue overhead signs calling my eyes to the back of the picture.

It’s great to then read that Damion is self-taught and still exploring mediums and styles. Interestingly his day job, which I’m sure is also very often a night job, is as a firefighter. Has that flicker of light in the darkness shaped his choice of subjects I wonder? To start with a dark ‘canvas’ and create light on it is an additional challenge. However, it does bring with it a sense of freedom to layer colours. Drawing light from the darkness. Then I read the descriptions and Damion has a good sense of humour and loves what he is creating. I think that shines through.

[ezcol_2third]The latest series of pastel works that Damion has uploaded to ArtFinder include another magical image. He’s captured the rainy pleasure of “Late Night Shopping”. Those enticing windows glowing in the darkness, bright jewels of colour. the shoppers under umbrellas on a grey rainy night. Still out there enjoying the excitement of the thought of getting a bargain and probably a cup of coffee too. The choice of colours in this picture is lovely. Sherbetty yellows and pinks with a touch of orange and tourquoise blue making it shimmer. I am really looking forward to seeing more pieces. [/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end] [/ezcol_1third_end]

It’s been fun to look around the ArtFinder online marketplace where I have a shop to look at other artists’s work in response to a competition to find an ArtFinder gem. I thought that I’d choose either a sculptor or printmaker as those are areas I don’t work in. However as soon as I spotted Damion’s work, after following a comment made by him on one of the forum posts, I had to put fingers to keyboard. Enjoy exploring his work.

 

Dark skies and lightning hit trees portent a storm brewing

storm brewing grey cloudy sky photograph

Dark and brooding. Dark skies do not just occur at nightfall. Have you seen it when a storm’s brewing. So who’s turned  the lights out?  The sky weaves it’s own magic by creating clouds which filter out the light.  They hold water which absorbs the light from the sun. The clouds reflect the storm that is brewing.  So here comes the science bit. The size of water droplets (or ice crystals) inside clouds are much larger than visible wavelengths.  The visible wavelengths are  therefore scattered about equally by those particles. Very little sunlight reaches the underside of the cloud, less light is scattered, and even more is absorbed in the bigger ready to rain drops. The clouds appears dark and grey.

On a couple of journeys East in the early months of the last two years, I’ve enjoyed watching the deepening colour of the sky over the fields spreading into the distance. The amazing colours against the rapeseed flowers is particularly spectacular to see. Dark skies create a colour contrast of pink-purple-grey against the bright yellow. The heavy rolling clouds, the undulating sea of flower heads in their ploughed lines. They froth over the edge of the fields towards the road.

There were also storms in my head. It’s not always plain sailing when you get to that stage of life where the children need to be the carers for the parents. One of the first things you find is that everyone (both family and well-meaning friends) have an opinion but not necessarily the time or skill to assist. Once you’ve narrowed down whose opinion counts – the person being cared for – it can then be a stormy ride to try to achieve what they want.

I have to thank a friend who introduced me to a book called “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. This takes you on a journey that you have not yet had to experience from a son who is a doctor. An illuminating read for anyone who is helping an aging parent with their decisions about how to be happy but safe in later life. It’s an uncomfortable glimpse into a possible future for many of us.

Balancing love and our fear of injury with their wish to continue to live as they have done (as an adult at least) for over fifty years until the inevitable mortality stops. It’s very difficult at times. Families feud.  I know some who have fallen out from trying to care for their parents with conflicting views.  One sibling may end up doing more than the others, either by choice or circumstance. The others may be totally absent and unaware of the stresses or feel left out or unappreciated. There are often dark skies that have to be faced but as with storms once the rain has fallen the air is clearer.

The lightning tree of which there are a lot visible between Herefordshire and Sussex is a nod to the damage that is done to us in old age whether physically or mentally. Electricity hits the tree and impacts the areas of moisture causing damage at either branch or root level. The skeleton of the tree stands damaged. However, the often whitish grey trees are given a new lease of life by the many animals and birds who find nesting places in the nooks and hollows. The dark trees have been burnt out but still provide fibrous matter or ash for the surrounding soil. The rolling fields remind us though that there is also growth and brightness. Hopefully the needs are worked out together and solutions are brokered that satisfy all. At least until the next calamity or moment which requires all to think – what now?

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Storm Brewing

40 x 50 cm canvas

Acrylic paint

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Through the square window; how to capture the countryside shrouded in darkness

The countryside is in darkness. Looking through the window of the train I’d taken notes and a few smartphone photos. Despite the speed of the train the eye still is able to take in each field, tree, pond and fence in the deepening darkness. There is a blur of things that are parallel to the train track. I sketch when I get home.
The sky is still not quite that inky darkness, it’s only just losing the benefit of the light of the sun and gaining the light from the moon. The train window adds another dimension of grime, oily film, scratches and reflections.
Starting with broad brush loads of sunset colours, the background was layered in. Using the photos as reference for the colours, the darker shades of purple and blue for the sky were added leaving hints of the setting sun behind.
Shades of green were mixed to create the countryside. Flicks with the broad square brushes started to create the fields. Allowing time for drying the build up of darks, was then highlighted with some lighter tones of the previously used colours.
I’d done a small test piece of colours and ways to apply marks for the different elements that I wanted to capture. So I grabbed the garden stick, loaded it with paint, and whipped it across the sky to create the light blur of movement. The same method was used to create the dark criss-cross patterns of the tree line.
Are the dark marks in the fields of grass, crops and water on the train window? Are they trees closer to the train as it speed by? Fences, perhaps?
Resin application on paintingOnce dry, I wanted to make the painting feel more like a dirty train window. Again I tested on a small sample of canvas with resins and varnishes. I chose to use three layers of resin which gives a hard finish to the piece. It also enabled me by working into the layers in different ways to add the ‘oily’ film that the window had in places, and the scratches left by previous travellers.
So this semi-abstract painting gives an impression of the light and colours seen through a murky old train window.

[ezcol_1third]Taith Tren

Acrylic Painting

40 x 40 cm canvas[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end][/ezcol_2third_end]

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