Sunday, January 29, 2006
Breathe Deep the Gathering Gloom....
Some of you may surmise from the title of today's post that I'm a big Moody Blues fan. Nights in White Satin, they just don't write lyrics like that song anymore. "Cold hearted orb that rules the night, removes the colors from our sight, red is grey and yellow white...." Today I struggled with a nocturne. I have a very vivid memory of a trip out into Fallujah shortly after first arriving here. Under a blazing full moon we visited a gothic nightmare of a place called Observation Post Ethan. Getting into OP Ethan was like entering the decaying skeletal remains of a leviathan. The building's roof was flayed off of the rafters and hanging in fleshy tatters. To get to the main part of the OP you had to cross a courtyard thick with the dendrus of battle and, in the light of a full moon, combed by the exposed rafter's jagged shadows. I returned to OP Ethan during the day and took photos. Today I attempted to translate those day photos into a night scene. In preparation I googled "paintings, moonlight" and happened on a wonderful exhibition the National Gallery of Art put together a couple years ago devoted to Frederic Remington called "The Color of Night". Here's a quote that blew me away:
Layered, complex, and technically innovative, these images of night are also profoundly personal works of art. Filled with danger, threatened violence, and menacing silence, they mirror—metaphorically—Remington's experience of war.
Apparently Remington, after covering the Spanish American War in Cuba for Colliers Weekly, returned changed in significant ways both creatively and personally.
"Menacing silence" expresses perfectly what I was after. Nocturnes are very difficult to create. Remington was known for them as was Whistler and a Pennsylvania Impressionist named George Sotter. I haven't got it quite figured out yet, but it seems that your palette needs to be tuned heavily in the key of green, which, like sour apples, isn't always the most pleasing experience. But I gave it a shot and here's the result.