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Thoughtful Thursday: The Power of Light & Dark

There are two kinds of light - the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures. -James Thurber

I am befuddled by the lighting in my gallery; I just can’t seem to get it right. Track lighting casts its glow around the gallery while the front half of the gallery is fortunate to host a lot of natural light.

Yet, I wonder if the paintings capturing the sun’s radiance are the ones best suited to reflect nature’s glory and does the overhead lighting promote the artist’s use of light and shadow.

Do I rearrange the paintings or do I rearrange the lighting?

Lighting in a gallery involves so much more than screwing in a light bulb! 

A visiting artist introduced me to the word and concept Chiaroscuro, used to describe the lighting in a painting. Light is as essential to a painting as color and form. Light and shade are entwined in a dance that create shapes, elicits emotions and defines the space.  An artist’s use of light provides a visual panorama that draws you into a painting and sends you looking in different directions, while creating the design of the composition. In fact, where you and I see the color, shapes and outlines in a painting, the artist’s inspiration and plan may be designed entirely around the lighting techniques it contains…and I question whether this is what sets the artist apart from us “ordinary folk”?

How many of us are stuck in our routines of day-to-day responsibilities that we miss the light? 

Current events cloak our path in darkness obscuring the light. It is in the interplay of dark and light that we find our deepest meaning. Consider the power of darkness; it holds mystery, potential danger and the soothing, restorative comfort of sleep. Yet that authority of darkness is thwarted and diminished every single day by light! In the words of Desmond Tutu, ‘Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”

To view a light show rivaling a July 4th celebration, please visit our gallery in Chestertown or shop virtually at

Eleinne Basa | Marsh Sunset

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