View From The Dark Side

View From The Dark Side

2015-04-07 20.09.21

Leonardo Da Vinci sets out the ‘rules’ for depicting shadow and light – which ‘are the most certain means by which the shape of any body becomes known’.. using terms such as ‘constrained air’ (aria restretta) e.g: light entering through a window, ‘free light’ (lume libero) such as that out in the countryside… ‘percussion’ – for the falling or striking of light on a subject. Conveying a sense of light as something dynamic.

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Sheep surprised from sleep are front-lit by the sky, and the seashore ahead, enlivening an otherwise merely ‘green’ scene..with some shadow – delineating the ruins of the old drove road running up the hill of Creetown’s Castle Cary nearby.

2015-04-07 20.25.19

Here – only with the light and shadow can we see the forms of the network of interwoven tree-roots.. and thus the contours of the hillside. The sunlight ‘does all the work’.

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The subtle and elusive effects of Leonardo’s sfumato or ‘smoky’ style – where shadows and highlights become something more than a depiction of light and shade – transform them into a mood or atmosphere. The gradations from dark to light are also a way of depicting distance – and assist with creating perspective. All very helpful if there is no recognisable feature, or creature, of ‘measurable’ size or shape to aid the eye in working out what it is that’s on view.

2015-04-07 20.33.21

Shadows here tell us that there are tall trees bordering this otherwise uninteresting path..and that the small dog’s owner is waiting to see if first love will turn to sticks and stones ..and breaking bones. Something that was of as much interest in Da Vinci’s time, no doubt, as it is today.

View From The Dark Side


About largelyhelen

Designer, photographer, writer.
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