the frigid and the flaming
Look and feel. Taste as you see. I beg you – though playfully – experience this:
Just looking at it makes me cold. There is a decided tempterature that Monet has somehow conveyed. How? Let’s compare it with another of his paintings.
Don’t you want to take your jacket off? The heat is radiating, no?
In comparison and contrast we find our answer to the “how” of the temperature in these two pieces. Notice, if you will, the subtle way in which he conveys to us that which the eye cannot directly see.
Color is one thing. The winter is wrought in blues, whites, greys, off-set with the slightest bit of yellow to balance the piece. On the other hand, the summer is based in yellow, with brooding browns and muddy green shadows, accompanied with flaming reds here and there, and offset by the bright blue of the sky. The ever-versatile white serves a different purpose here. In the winter its emptiness kept the frigid temperature, in the summer, however, it takes the yellow and illuminates it.
Brushstroke is another thing. The winter is sharp, increasing the starkness and sting of the air. The summer is even a little blurred, like light in the heart – the sea is not too far from us, the air is thick and the heat indwells it.
Lighting is a vital thing. Here we may notice particularly the shadows. For the winter has that “slant of light” as Emily Dickinson so exquisitely described. We know the sun is low in the sky, making the temperature even cooler than the snow so obviously suggests. The summer finds the sun higher in the sky – we are closer to the heat of the day here, most likely just after it. It has long been warm, and now, here in the afternoon we find ourselves rather tired.
As you look outside your own window, as you walk or drive, wherever you may be…where is the light falling? What is the indecisive white conveying? And which opposing color has the upper-hand? The yellow or the blue?