04 May 2014

Chiaroscuro: Playing with light and shadow

I've had a week of experiencing light and shadows.
Making the most of Houston's last cool weather before the summer blast, I spent lots of time working in my yard. While working in the hot afternoons, I often longed for some rest in a patch of shade. The patio table umbrella was nice; the natural shade from my neighbor's trees was nicer. For me, those shadows became a place of shelter, a resting place.
Gregory Gibbs, 2014, used by permission.
One day last week a young friend posted a "selfie" that I found quite intriguing. I lingered over the photo and returned to it several times in the week. Something in the photograph reminded me of a Rembrandt painting that had first fascinated me in childhood when I found  it in the World Book Encyclopedia. Rembrandt's single candle lighting is called chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro was not original to Rembrandt. Several of my other favorite 17th and 18th Century painters--Leonardo Da Vinci, Peter Paul Rubens, Caravaggio--made use of the technique. Chiaroscuro lends a painting "dramatic intensity, rhythmic visual harmony, and psychological depth." {I would very much like to properly cite this phrase but am not certain where it originates. Two sources that I found interesting are:  Jeffrey A. Netto's 1999 article for his English course: Writing in the World of Painting   and a really fun power point from teacher web "Outside the Lines." }

All this to say that I had already been thinking some about light and shadow when I arrived at The Cenacle Retreat House on Saturday morning for the "spiritual spa day." 

My friends, Amy, Chelsie, Brandy, Michal, Luci, Elana, and me
on the patio of the Cenacle in light and shadow.
I was very much looking forward to a massage to  ease the aches and pains of the week's hard labor in the yard, to being indulged with some delicious lunch and a high tea, and to spending some quality time with friends. It was a truly wonderful day. Walking the beautiful gardens and woodlands allowed me to experience more light and shadow.
One of the two sessions I attended was Connie Longsworth's Musica Divina, a meditation technique similar to Lectio Divina using music rather than text. Connie suggested that we could use this technique not only intentionally but any time when we were trapped listening to music in a car, on hold, shopping. We could use it for any genre of music, as a way of encountering God in everything.

I did not care for either of Connie's selections: Captivate Us by Watermark and Cyndi Lauper's True Colors. I found the music uninteresting; I found the poetry, particularly True Colors, dreadful. Nonetheless, as I reflected on the words and the relationship of those two pieces to each other, I noted that both songs were very sensory, extremely visual, and that both relied on motifs of light and shadow.
"like the stars..." "radiant bright... in your breath and shadow..." "let everything be lost in the shadows of the light of your face..." from Captivate Us
"You can lose sight of it all and the darkness inside you..." "I see your true colors shining through..." "Like a rainbow..."
from True Colors
My journal notes:
by K Cummings Pipes 2 May 2014
Light by its very nature creates shadow.
Shadows are not the same as darkness.
Darkness is an absence of light.
Shadows are the result of light's presence;
they are part of the light's revelation.
For example:
I do not, I cannot doubt unless I first have faith.
Indeed, doubt is not the absence of faith;
doubt is a shadowed faith.
The presence of the Light reveals shadows.
Shadows change with the movement of light
or with the movement of the object that casts the shadow.
Remove the object and the shadow is gone.
Such removal may be necessary
when the shadow is the result of some hindrance or sin in my life.
Not all objects can be moved;
they are not sin but circumstance.
These objects are to be walked around, not stumbled over.
Sometimes a shadow object can become a candlestick,
lifting the light higher and increasing illumination.
Looking at a shadow from different angles,
seeing how the shadow changes in time and space,
may create a fresh perspective or open a new path.
If there are no shadows, there is no Light.
The play of the Light and shadows bring
"dramatic intensity, rhythmic...  harmony,
and psychological depth" to my life
and are indeed a shelter and a resting place.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

from facebook: 6 likes