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#37 White Light – Egret preening

White Light - Egret preening (910mm x 610mm acrylic)

Working with light and colour makes the painter feel like an alchemist of the sun, for in the same way as the air gives voice to the flute, so too does the sun give the gift of light, which, when passed through a prism, offers a rainbow to the artist. But every now and again the sun becomes visible with an unusual clarity, moments which inspire and can become the focus of a painting. The egret shown here only held out its wing for a few brief seconds before rotating its elegant neck in the other direction and starting to settle the feathers on its back, but those few seconds were enough to fix my attention and inspire a wish to share the moment. But, as with many ideas, that brief moment led to many more as I then needed to better understand what I had seen, so many hours were spent watching and sketching egrets before the process of starting the painting in the studio even began.

Study sketch for 'White Light'

One of the big challenges that faced me in this work was the almost total absence of colour, with everything being reduced down to the endless shades that join black to white, and it was only whilst fusing the shades, bringing lightness back to areas which had become too dark, or adding highlights to dark areas that I began to fully appreciate the complexity and range of the shades available.

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