Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gears, Steampunk, and Light

 Today's painting is inspired by J.M.W. Turner's  Rain, Steam and Speed -- The Great Western Railway 
(seen above)

 Turner once said, "Indistinctness is my forte." to someone that had bought one of his paintings. The artist captured moments for their depiction of light believing for himself, "The sun is God." I admire Turner's ability to persuade color to become light.
Critics ask, "What do his paintings represent? Does he advocate human progress? Is he depicting how nature will ultimately win over us all?"
Clearly Turner is for "Light." He praises it with his last breath. It's the one fundamental thing needed for great painting. The wrong light source stops a painting from having the correct effect. Imagine a smile. Wait. No. Don't imagine. Just consider this picture below.
Notice the woman smiling in this painting by Vermeer first? You should because she's the focal point. If we change the focal point of a painting we get some fascinating results! See below.
Notice Jesus now? Hey wait... Wasn't she pregnant? She couldn't possibly be a stand in for the Virgin Mary could she??? Well, we'll talk about Vermeer and his Catholicism later. What's important to note is that in this picture we see why Turner can be so adamant about the crucial placement of light in his paintings. Before his time, it had come to represent so much in the way of symbolism. Light is God to him because light controls everything in painting. In the painting above we can now notice exactly what Vermeer was hinting at symbolically just with a simple shift in the lighting.

So the difference between our current era in art and Turner's is that light hasn't changed much in its importance, but it has changed in its usage. For instance if I take my digital art and print it upon canvas today, I'd have a multitude of new challenges to face when choosing what type of lighting to use when displaying it in a studio or a museum. 

Turner's paintings incorporated light as the focal point. He isn't the first painter to do so, however, he is the first to put such an extreme importance upon the source that makes all art possible. This dedication to lighting shines throughout his collection. Light has created our color spectrum, it gives us our sight with which to paint, and it is the artist's truest ally. 

Gears, Steampunk, and Light -- The Great American Rabbit Race 
By Nic Tatum

 I designed this to be a Steampunk dedication to an artist that taught me a lot about lighting. Studying J.M.W. Turner has given me a respect for the way that lighting can transform paintings from simple representations of our exterior world -- into a rich realm of symbolism.

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