Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lightworker! Lightworker! Lightworker! Here, Google, Here!

'Paris Bridge', oil on panel, 1998, 3'x4'
Stephanie Lee Jackson

I've come across this term a few times in the past day... what is a Lightworker?

I mean, I googled it, and found various new age-y websites, but I'm curious as to your interpretation, if you'd be so kind.
Pretty Lady googled it too, and--ew.

There may, indeed, be some nuggets of Wisdom buried in the saccharine rhetoric, bargain-basement huckster layout, and Cosmic Kitsch aesthetic of the sites she found, but she didn't have the stomach to dig for them. So she will sidestep the definition entirely, and merely share a few observations she gleaned from spending several years painting light.

It may seem, at first, that one can only depict light by indicating the shadows. This is only true up to a point. As soon as one starts to paint shadows, one notices that they are not only not black, but streaked with subtler rays and beams of light as well. One achieves effective shadows by layering dark glazes over less-dark colors, giving a sense of limitless depth.

One gets an effect of luminosity by layering lighter colors over darker ones, particularly if the darker ones are in the yellow/gold/orange/ochre/sienna family.

Pure white looks greyish blah. Tinting it a very, very pale blue makes it seem whiter; tinting it very, very pale ochre makes it seem warmly incandescent.

Pretty Lady is not certain whether this answers your question metaphorically or not, but it's the best she can come up with at the moment.


Anonymous said...

PL -

I love that painting! I think you should consider putting some from that series in your PL boutique on notecards or whathaveyou.


Pretty Lady said...

Thank you, O! Unfortunately, most of them sold a long time ago, before there were such a thing as high-res digital cameras. All I have are slides, which don't scan very well for digital prints.

I have actually, and scandalously, forgotten the name of the collector who owns this one, much less got her address.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a full post! Thanks for taking that question on-- and yes, that's a fascinating metaphorical response. My painting knowledge is limited to high school art class, but it translates well enough!

And we clearly had the same reaction to those Google results... as soon as anyone tried to tell me that people who feel like they don't belong are angels from distant stars or some such, my gag reflex kicks in. (Doesn't everyone feel that way, especially in adolescence?)

David said...

The journey toward light. It's a wonderful metaphor for an artist or a politician. I'm willing to suspend cynicism for a brief moment and hope for something better. Under the present circumstances, we don't need much of an improvement to register as moving in a better direction my dears. Did you notice how Obama played to AIPAC with the united Jerusalem comment? I want him to be a ruthless politician and to be a lightworker. I want him to be post-bullshit. How's that. Can we have that?

Chris Rywalt said...

If your slide is good, you can get a good scan of it. I know a few people with excellent slide scanners. Next time we get together, loan me the slides and I'll take care of it for you.

Of course, if the slides aren't so good, not much anyone can do. I have a goodly collection of lousy slides I took of my own paintings.

The Impressionists were very big on complementary colors. So their idea was, if sunlight is yellow, then shadows must be purple. It worked very well for them -- Monet's lovely series of paintings of Chartres are wonderful explorations of subtle shades of yellow and purple.

However, for the life of me I haven't been able to see yellow sunlight or purple shadows. Sunlight always looks white, and shadows black, whenever I look. Near sunup and sundown they're closest to this Impressionist idea. Maybe the color of the light is different in France than it is around here.

Of course a touch of blue makes white look whiter -- haven't you noticed that marshmallows have FD&C Blue in them? However, William and I made some homemade marshmallows which not only tasted fantastic and contained no artificial colors, but were plenty white to me.

I think those late-1990s paintings were some of your best work so far.

Pretty Lady said...

You WOULD think those late 90's paintings were the best, Chris. I think of them as most excellent technical exercises.

That's it, though--if sunlight looks white and shadows look black to you, GIVE UP PAINTING. Sunlight, as is perfectly obvious, is orangey pinkish ochreish yellowish blue, and shadows are more or less blue/purple depending on the location and the time of year.

In fact, Chris, if you ever want to be a painter, you need to travel. You need to travel to the Bay Area during the winter months, and observe the blue shadows there. You need to travel to Mexico during the autumn, and observe the vibrant golds and pinkish oranges of the sunlight on the desert mountains, contrasting with the vibrant hues of the buildings and the greenish-grays of the cacti. You need to lie under a blooming jacaranda tree at twilight, and observe the multitude of gradations of bluish purplish pinkish lace and glow all talking together, with petals falling on your face.

Sheesh. No wonder you're not painting. You haven't LIVED.

Chris Rywalt said...

Recently I read something somewhere -- I don't remember where, maybe it was a Salman Rushdie short story -- where a character said that even a small area has so much to see, why travel?

I kind of think that way sometimes. There's so much I don't know about right here under my nose -- why travel someplace else before I've truly explored where I live now?

I find sunlight is pure white, but other colors show up in the vicinity depending on circumstances. But maybe you're right, I should give up painting and stick to drawing and brush and ink.

Maybe not even that.

Anonymous said...

"There's so much I don't know about right here under my nose -- why travel someplace else before I've truly explored where I live now?"

It's not so much a question of knowing, but experiencing. In SF, people were always talking about the special quality of the light there, but I didn't really get it til I moved away. New York is much grayer, as if every color is watered down. Maybe it's the dirt here that dampens everything down, or it's the cleansing ocean fog in SF that clears away the gray, but SF does have unusual light. And the southwest does have a very particular color spectrum. You don't often see that enveloping pink/gold/orange/ochre intensity in nature. Again, knowledge is not the only important thing. Sensory experience is important, probably necessary, for an artist. I'm not even a colorist (my work tends to be pretty minimal color-wise) but I think it's important to expose oneself to such things.


Barak said...

What resolution camera do you use to photograph your work. I recently shot some paintings for a friend with my 10.1 Mpix camera and she was disappointed with the resolution.

Barak said...


Pretty Lady said...

She was disappointed with 10.2 megapixels???

My camera is a 3.2 megapixel Canon PowerShot A70 that I got in 2003, when it was top of the line--at least it was a gigantic splurge for my budget, and I haven't acquired the resources to upgrade. For posting images online at 72 dpi, it's fine, and when I do high-res shots I bump it up to 'large file, superfine.'

Your friend may simply be disappointed with the fact that there are certain things that digital format can't do. My own work is highly layered and textured, with varying degrees of surface ranging from matte to glossy, and not even the highest-resolution digital file can capture more than one of those layers. The best you can do when photographing artwork is to give a decent enough approximation of the real thing to give someone an interest in coming to see it, or--as it may--buying it and having it shipped to them.


Pretty Lady said...

Indeed, Chris--you notice new things about the place you were born after you have experienced something else to contrast it with. I didn't truly appreciate the subtle, expansive, brutal beauty of Texas until I'd moved away and gone back. I didn't see so many colors in light until I'd lived in the Bay Area, where they are so clear, but now I can see them even in gray NYC and dusty Fort Worth.

And the light in France is indeed rather pastel, like filagree, not as saturated as Mexico, but refined and pretty.

Desert Cat said...

When I moved to Arizona I was astonished at the light as sunset approached. It seemed surreal--like I was in a living postcard.

I still am frequently enough, when I am somewhere it is really noticeable (mostly anywhere outside the urban jungle).

But there are likely few places on earth where the sun is as harsh and flat and brutal as it is middday in June here. Forget about painting or photography, it will be universally disappointing unless you're searching for and wanting to evoke that particular mood.

ec said...

I wanted to get in touch, the darn facebook ain't workin'. So hi there.

Pretty Lady said...

Hi there, too! I 'friended' you, when it WAS working. See you soon!

Chris Rywalt said...

Who's going to EC's opening in Central Park two weeks from now?

Pretty Lady said...

She didn't tell me about the one in Central Park; I'm missing the one she's having this minute, because I had to work.

Chris Rywalt said...

EC's Website sez she's got work in The Arsenal Gallery with an opening on 25 June.

Pretty Lady said...

Well, groovy! Let's ALL go!

Chris Rywalt said...

I'm thinking of going. Who else?

Desert Cat said...

Well, groovy! Let's ALL go!

Oh sure...