Light and colour

Recently I've been thinking a lot about colour. As the nights continue to draw in and I look out of the window on a dull November day (is it really daytime?!), I can't help but think "I need some colour in my life!".

I remember my art teacher at school being quite impressed at just how much colour I could see in apparently dull objects - a black bin liner shining and reflecting back a myriad of rainbow patterns, the subtle pastel shades in a white-on-white still life, and the ever changing patterns formed of vibrant hues in a puddle as rain splashes down from the sky.

Some of my GCSE artwork - rain falling in a puddle on a dull, grey day.

Some of my GCSE artwork - rain falling in a puddle on a dull, grey day.

So even on a gloomy Autumn day there is always colour to be found. Try looking up for a moment. Is the sky really just a uniform grey or are there subtleties in tone appearing as the clouds constantly shift in form? I see purples, blues, yellows, browns... What can you see? And as the light changes, how is the landscape below transformed?

Autumn and Winter also deliver some magical sparkly days where the sky is blue, the air is fresh and everything is bright. The colours are so intense and crisp. Beautiful. I've just experienced a few days like this in Northumbria. Look at the colours in these glowing landscapes!  

While contemplating these views I am mindful of several paintings I absolutely love which also use colour creatively to capture the light and mood of the scenery. Vincent Van Gogh's 'The Starry Night' (excuse me while I burst in to song...), captured during his stay in the local lunatic asylum, is a wonderful display of swirling colour that perhaps captures some of his emotional turmoil of the time. I can spend hours looking at this sky, surfing on the waves of blue right into the scene, travelling with the ebb and flow of emotion. Yet the points of brilliant yellow depicting the stars and the bright glowing moon sitting within the inky sky shine right out of the canvas emphasising to me that there is always some light in the darkness.   

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Then, with a starkly contrasting style, there's the paintings of English Romanticist landscape artist J. M. W. Turner who produced so many magnificent watercolours, both landscape and seascape. One of my favourites is 'Dawn after the Wreck', 1841. This evocative picture of a lone dog howling on the wide expanse of sand induces within me the feelings of emptiness and desolation. The death and destruction resulting from the night before is perhaps symbolised by the red in the clouds. Yet there is also a tangible sense of calm riding on the pale morning light, captured so delicately by the artist. Beautiful! 

Dawn after the Wreck by JMW Turner

Dawn after the Wreck by JMW Turner

I cannot help but think of Claude Monet's famous Water Lilies - the colours are so intense. Although there are so many, a particular favourite of mine is 'The Water Lily Pond' as shown here. It is saturated in deep colours that leap of the page and force themselves upon you. It makes me think of a warm summer day lazing in the garden, Pimms at my side, insects buzzing busily about. I'm sat in the shade of a leafy tree observing the cool cool waters. Ahhhh.

The Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet

The Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet

All this inspiration from a day out seeing light and colour!! I highly recommend it. Stand and contemplate, look and feel. Imagine. Let your mind wander. Where will it take you? Please do comment below. I'd love to hear all about it.