Oct 12, 2005


(kee-ahr'oh-scyoo"roh): An element in art, chiaroscuro (Italian for lightdark) is defined as a bold contrast between light and dark.

A certain amount of chiaroscuro is the effect of light modelling in painting, where three-dimensional volume is suggested by highlights and shadow. But true chiaroscuro is developed during the 16th century. Dark subjects dramatically lighted by a shaft of light from a single constricted and often unseen source was a compositional device developed by Ugo da Carpi (c.1455-c.1523), Giovanni Baglione (1566–1643) and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610).

View from Interstate 5 - bella by barlight.

One of the last essays I handed in for my degree dealt with the sublime in both Wordsworth's poetry and Constable's paintings.

Constable took a scientific interest in the weather, especially the work of Luke Howard and Thomas Forster who studied cloud formations and weather patterns. This had an immense influence upon his work as is clear by the amount of space he dedicated to complex cloud formations in so many of his paintings. Many of Constable's paintings have one striking feature in common: an uncertain sky. Although it is not always clear if the weather is clearing or darkening, the effect of patches of blue sky peaking out from behind patches of sky that are dark with rain gives Constable's paintings a sense of narrative time passing. If the clouds are clearing, something has come before the moment in time captured by the painting, and if the rain or storm is threatening then there is a future event looming beyond the horizon of the canvas that gives an air of tension to the painting.

Peckham has suggested that one of the critical ideas to develop out of romanticism is that "external reality is a living organism and that the psycho-physical personality is also a living organism" therefore, "change is a positive value; the artists task is to reveal a world in which reality lies in the process of change, not in forms which underlie illusions of mutability."

It sounds a lot like life, this art stuff.

Incidentally, I've changed around the colors of my blog template thingy to reflect a more calm and cheerful emotional state. Or, maybe I should say, "project" since it isn't necessarily a state I've arrived at already, but rather like the changing light in Constable's paintings, just off the canvas but due to arrive any moment.

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