dyfroedd afagddu

water night 

approx 81cms x 71cms

Dyfroedd afagddu  'Waters of darkness'. Afagddu is in use to convey 'utter-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 intended for Afagddu were accidentally swallowed by a servant boy whom Ceridwen then pursues in a rage. 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 the study board looked dark and I couldn't mix the colours I saw, so I lit the board with an exceptionally weak LED light. The results show that there was enough night light to filter down upon the walls of the pool, and the small pale rectangle lower right was this same light catching a bat.
The photo of the study above was taken in day light - very much brighter light than it was painted in. The heavy, sharp brushmarks actually represent transitions that at night looked soft. So if the study can only resemble my experience in extremely low light, the problem is, How to use it for a painting to be looked at in day light?


The small study is in shade to the far left, but the canvas is lit by overhead light. This set up helps me to see something like the original perception as I work on the painting. I also refer to a poorly resolved night video (closer to the perception than a sharp one), written notes with a diagram, and memory.

an experiment

The picture below was a guess at what the nocturnal fall might look like, before I saw it. Compared to the study made on the spot it shows 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 down. A second difference was the darkness round the fall, which was not as simple as I had predicted. In the wild I saw a clutch of different blacks, each with its own nature, interacting with the water greys to spin a new element, a kind of water-night. 


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