Friday, April 19, 2013

Farmhouse with shadows

I'm not through with this painting. Or rather, it will not let go of me. Thanks, James Holland, whoever you are.

It's not because it reminds me of my own house. And it's not because it rises to great art, although it is masterful in its own way. It's because it lets me see something we seldom take note of -- the ubiquity of night.

Night. The default state of the universe. Night for most of us is that time from dusk to dawn when the body of the Earth gets in the way of the Sun. But night lurks in every shadow, all day long. Each blade of grass casts its nocturnal shape upon the ground. Each tree spreads a shrubbery of darkness. With each step along the sidewalk I crush a bit of daylight.

All day long night scatters and gathers. Skittering behind kittens. Scooting with the thrown ball across the ground. Then, in afternoon, night comes marching from the east, the full black army, the orc-fell dark. Benign at first, daubing the side of the farmhouse with filigreed lights, the white clapboards with their pale hue of our yellow star. Night gathers under the eaves, pools in the dark grass.

And this, I submit, is the most perfect time of day. Pale sun, pale shadows. Nature's most subtle palette. The silent golden moment when the pink and purple shadows promise a perfect marriage of light and dark, of solar photons and their extinction.