One of my favorite things about this time of year is the light. I don’t mean the long afternoon shadows which draw attention to the dust on the floor or the crazy displays of holiday lights in the neighborhood (well, I love that too). I mean the special lighting we pull out of storage once a year that transforms our homes into cozy and magical places.
We all know that lighting has a dramatic effect on the mood and feeling of the spaces we live in. Good lighting can make a space inviting, enjoyable, warm, and friendly. It just gets you in the spirit and makes everything feel otherwordly – there is something about it that just creates the need to smile. Candles add an ambiance of calm creating a setting where family loves to gather and relax.
Light, sometimes called the prime animator of space, has a language of its own. In art, light was originally portrayed by symbols – fire or sun, for example. Light in art was not even considered part of the art image, outside of being a symbol, during many historical phases. Halos and light beams became symbols for light during the Rise of Christianity, as light took on a religious significance. Not until lighting was combined with realistic representation did light acquire a new meaning. The meaning of light today is as broadly categorized as the variety of understandings it carries with it to the present day.
Light and shade rely on each other and work together in a work of art. In a painting that capitalizes on lighting, there are highlights and there are shadows. Sometimes the lighting is more subtle, all-over and less defined. High contrast works are emotionally intense, as are bright works of art. Dark paintings are beautiful through their mystery.
Lighting is used in works of art to create contrast in an environment or space. Lighting adds to the visual variety in works of art, provoking interest while helping to determine the layout of a composition. A work of art may be designed entirely around the lighting techniques it contains.
Enjoy these examples of light in art from some of the great artists here on Zatista. Happy holidays to all!