Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shadow Wrap

I've always enjoyed the magic of shadows. Whether the shadows reflect the physical object in the outline of the light and shade contrast, or gently outline the contour of of the surface, the play of pattern is forever fascinating.  With artificial light, the shadows are wonderfully predictable, with the sun, they offer endless variations depending on the time of day.

Like invasive vines, these tree shadows are not discriminating!  The asphalt street, earth, brick house are all shaded equally.

Georges Seurat, French, 1859 - 1891
Head of Woman with Hat, Conte crayon
Smith College Museum of Art
Seurat uses the outline of this woman, as a shadow would, but further describes the specific features of his subject by varying the tonality in light and dark.  Unlike the hard edges of a shadow, the edges are soft and open, thus enlivening the surrounding space.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Italian, 1475 - 1564
Bathing Soldier for Cascina cartoon, pen and ink
British Museum
The way that shadows describe the topography of the earth reminds me of beginning studio art classes.  The professor would encourage us to utilize a lyrical line to "describe the surface" of what we were drawing.  Here the master of contour Michelangelo utilizes cross-hatching to model the muscular forms.  This allows us to not only understand the outline of the form, but the interior as well, suggesting volumes in space.  Treating the outline uniformly would result in a flattening of the image.

Maxalto catalogue image
The juxtaposition of contemporary furniture with a classical background is always exciting.  The striping of these walls, is as indiscriminate and  hard-edged as a shadow can be!  This concept certainly pushes the envelope in terms of how to paint a wall with traditional, decorative mouldings!


  1. Wow. These striped walls are hauntingly beautiful.

  2. Yes, Larry, it would be easy to paint these stripes on a simple flat wall; but to have the courage and the audacity to paint them on old mouldings is awesome! Furthermore, to paint them vertically as opposed to horizontally as the Byzantine style popularized, is truly creative.