This time of year all around our globe, two legged mammals called humans are celebrating the light. Right now, in the northern hemisphere we’re jumping for joy knowing that the longer days of light are returning. In the southern hemisphere they’re jumping for joy because they’re experiencing the longest day and the abundant play of summer – some people even dread turning toward the dark again.
You, who have followed this blog for several years, know that I stand on my dimly lit soapbox every winter Solstice to yell: I love the dark. I beg you – no, I DARE you – to celebrate its return next summer here in the north.
Please understand this. I’m not advocating for the dark forces to take over the world. I’m simply saying that the dark is the womb of all creativity, including the universe. The dark inspires mystery and illuminates wisdom. For instance, in the dark we become aware of the galaxies above, that immense vastness that reminds us of the miracle of life on this tiny globe. The dark literally elicits awe, allowing us to marvel at the sheer wonder of being here. Lovers inextricably intertwined, the marriage of dark and light gives birth to the whole shebang. I mean that seriously, which leads me to the power of value.
What do I mean by value? Value is, in this case, shades of grey – how dark is the darkest dark and how light is the lightest light. In photographic terms, value is identified by the grey scale.
And shades of grey define everything. Value is valuable! With no shadow, we’re blinded by the light. Value embodies the full range of greys to reveal form, perspective, depth, texture, to give shape to all things.
Recently I’ve stumbled on the glorious constraint of making Artist Trading Cards ( ATC ). Tiny images, 2.5” x 3.5”, I discovered that ATC packs even come in black. I have loved the luminous mandala technique taught by Judith Cornell and have learned from her books how to draw a complex design with white pencil on black paper before adding any color at all. I grabbed my white pencil and a black ATC and voila, a lifetime ago or maybe about ten days, my life changed. These wee images have revealed my devotion to shades of grey. I realize as I write to you, though, that my passion wants to be called: devotion to shades of light. I love that word play. Shades of light describe my truth. I cannot stand in the sun without casting a shadow, even if it’s only under my feet.
The coupling of light and dark is inviolate, nature’s way of teaching us how life works. That truth compels me to stay open. Shades of light ground me, make me, make us, solid. Thinking white is right and black is wrong traps us in literalism, …over which wars are fought. Insisting that the light alone brings enlightenment may be modern man’s Achille’s heel.