tree painted without artificial light


oil on board

180mm x 130mm

private collection

What would a painting of an oak look like made at night with no artificial illumination,  on a surface that would reflect less light than the night sky?

Because the eye's powers of resolution are so much weaker in low light I could not see the rough brush marks as I made the painting (in very low light the fovea has no information ). But as I painted, I saw an image materialising that looked like the tree - so this is a realistic image. But at sunrise the brushmarks become lies.

The picture has a message about experience and the limits of representation. It only resembles the original vision in a twilit room - an illumination with a much lower dynamic range than the screen on which you are reading this.

In daylight the picture shows a hidden truth. The facture (paint manipulation) forces you to see yourself seeing. Painting can render hand, eye and world as one thing : at once completely familiar and completely strange.

The painting shows the human animal trying to see a tree. The yellow dot is a plane going into Stanstead.

but the night shineth as the day:
The Darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
Psalm 139.12
On show at The Mall galleries, Sarah Armstrong-Jones selection, ING Discerning Eye Exhibition, Mall Galleries , London.

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