Changes in light over the course of a day or the great arch of a year can be wonderfully evocative, and can affect our mood and our outlook on life. Something in the angle or quality of the light can instantly invoke a certain place at a certain time of day. In the morning, no matter what the time of year, light has a hopeful quality, drawing us out of our dreams and into our waking day. We can feel that the sun is ascending and we rise with it. It’s easy to recognize the pattern of light’s movement through the day, but it’s difficult to capture it in a photograph or a painting. For many artists, this very pursuit is what motivates them to take up their art in the first place.
A February Morning on Springdale Farm, by Lori MacDonald instantly captures the white gold quality of a winter morning, the sun raking across the snow and clinging to the bare trees, striping the ground with shadows. The painting, though bleak, reflects the harsh beauty of a New England winter. Place is important to MacDonald, who declares, “What a joy to live under a New England sky!” She uses acrylics and a split primary palette to capture the atmosphere and convincing light, which is so important to her as an expression of beauty and truth.
Robert Stack’s Morning Train, a view of the Portlaoise Train Station at seven in the morning, evokes the mysterious feeling that the world of people has come awake before the sun has even risen. The lights in the buildings and on the trucks glow warmly against a brightening sky, in this strange moment between night and a new day.
Morning Flight, a photograph by Barbara Swan Roger, shows a flock of pigeons taking off in a grey Venetian dawn. The pigeons become more important than the buildings, which are lined along the bottom as a sort of frame for the piece. Everything is just touched by a rosy light on the edges of the world that signals the coming of day. Roger, a travel photographer, says, “Art is the window to the creative soul. It makes us think; it makes us feel; it makes us respond.” And though Venice may be unfamiliar to us personally, we all know what it feels like to see the dawn of day, and we respond to that combination of known and unknown, new and familiar, that makes both travelling and art so exciting.
Daniel Gagnon describes his style as “luminous realism,” and says he pursues “…the capture of light in all of its moods and manifestations.” Early Morning Pruning displays a scene he came across while strolling about in Cannes “one very early winter morning.” It’s Cannes as few tourists see it, empty and shut down, except for a crew of men pruning stark wintery trees, bathed in a pale cold light. A bright building with the rising sun reflected in all of its windows gives us a hint of excitement to come, with the word “splendid” spanning its roof.
Iacopo Pasquinelli calls his paintings “impressions, expressions and lightscapes,” and certainly his evocative landscape paintings capture the scope of light at various times of day. He paints in an exaggerated landscape format, a panoramic view, so that the viewer is “enveloped by the painting” and able to enter into it. He recently moved to Connecticut, where he was surprised to be “surrounded by an immense and luminous sky that touches the horizon in far off places, without the interference of hills. I'm awed by the coast, where the land and water unexpectedly flow directly into the sky.” In Picture Perfect Morning, he captures this effect just as the sun rises, pale, above the water, and casts long shadows and a warm and promising light.
Whether the dawn light summons birds and signals the coming warmth of the midsummer day or creeps along much later barely warming the frost and snow in midwinter, there’s something potent and unmistakable about the sunlight in the morning.