Light and Dark

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Years ago. Mike was fascinated with the Dutch painter, Vermeer’s use of light in his pictures. I liked the pictures, but unlike him, I wasn’t trying to analyze why I liked them.

Now, fast forward to a year ago. My teacher challenged me to only use graphite pencils. These are shades of gray from silvery to deep black. No colors and white is only achieved by leaving the paper clean to show through.

My first graphite sketches were only outlines. I filled in some of the outlines, but they were mostly an even gray tone.

She challenged me to really LOOK. “Is that all exactly the same shade? Try shining a light from one side. Now, is it all exactly the same shade?” she taught me to look for the shadows. Without the shadows, even round balls look only like circles on paper. My fascination with light and shadows was awakened. It grows by the day.

I learned not to be afraid of deep black. Without lines of black, objects on tables seemed to hover weightlessly. A thin black line and a bit of dark gray under a flowerpot settles it comfortably on the table. A few strokes of black in the center of a flower suddenly gives the flower dimension and life. A dark line makes the highlights stand out by contrast.

The play of light and dark gives shape to our world.

My husband and I are getting known for stopping suddenly wherever we are to snap photos. I want the photos to use as reference for future sketches. Mike enjoys photography. It is his form of art.

If the light is too bright, the photos are not good. White flowers lose their form. Beautiful clusters of green leaves are so dotted with white highlights that they don’t even look like leaves any more. If the light only comes from above, again, the form is lost because no shadows can be seen.

Studying images, thinking about what I am seeing, and not letting my mind dictate what I should be seeing is becoming almost second nature now. What joy I get from discovering the beauty in form through light and shadow.

Take a moment to consider light and dark:

God made our world with light and dark, with daytime and night. He meant for us to see light and shadows.

We all think we would love life without any dark times. Wouldn’t it be nicer with no sadness or grief or pain? That is not life in this world.

Just like a dark edge makes the highlights stand out on paper, the dark times in our lives make the good times even brighter.

Times of darkness draw us closer to God our Comforter. In the darkness we often listen much better than in the light where we are distracted by what we see.

As I’ve learned to appreciate shade and deep tones, I want to appreciate how the valleys and shadows have shaped my life.

Light and dark. God’s gifts to help us see what His hands are forming in our lives.

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