dyfroedd afagddu

water night 

approx 81cms x 71cms

dyfroedd afagddu  'Waters of darkness'. Afagddu is in use to convey 'pitch-blackness'.
In Welsh legend Afagddu is also the name of the hideous son born to the sorceress Ceridwen. She prepared a cauldron full of herbs which after a year's boiling would spit out three drops of knowledge. The drops burned Afagddu's hand and he swallowed them. The story leads to the birth of the miraculous child-poet Taliesin, who is supposed to be buried a mile or so from this fall.


Even on a bright night with light cloud cover, the study board reflected almost no light - so it was impossible to mix and match the colours of the scene. To counter this I lit the board with an exceptionally weak LED light.
The results show that there was enough night light to filter down to the walls of the pool. The pale rectangle lower right was the same light catching a bat.
The photo of the study above was taken in day light. It shows heavy, clear brushmarks that actually represent soft edge transitions. The study only resembles my experience in extremely low light, when most of the sharp edges disappear. So the problem is : How to use material that only looks 'true' in very low light, for a painting to be hung in day light?


The study is to the far left of the photo, in shade; but the canvas is lit by overhead daylight. This set up helps me to transfer something like the original perception from the study in shadow to a painting that will work in ordinary light. I also refer to a poorly resolved night video of the fall which is close to the perception, written notes, a diagram made at the time and memory.

An experiment.

The picture below was a guess at what the fall might look at night before I saw it. Compare it to the study made on the spot above and see how different nature can be from how we imagine it - even for someone who has spent half his life painting landscape.


One difference lay in the large geometry of the fall. In daylight this is a complicated but relatively stable white shape; but at night it became more like a set of shifting mobile grey snakes - nothing settled. A second difference lay in the darkness round the fall, which was not as simple as I had predicted. There was a clutch different blacks, each with its own nature that interacted with the greys of the water to spin a new element, a kind of water-night. 


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