Light as a painting subject

Claude Monet – Cathedrale di Rouen

Light as a painting subject? When we think about what to paint next, we often have these categories in mind: Humans, animals, architecture, nature and objects. Of course, you can not paint any of these without light. Unless you like black canvases. But did you consider that your painting(s) could be about light more than about the thing that is lit?

It is a great exercise to paint the same subject in different lighting scenarios and to capture its changing moods.

Claude Monet painted the “Cathedrale di Rouen” many times. If you google it, you will find a lot of the paintings he did. They come in all colors.

For this series, Monet chose nearly the same point of view every time. What varies is the lighting. It was one of the great ideas and goals of the impressionist movement to capture light in a different and more truthful way than any other art movement did before.

The lighting of a scene does not only change the mood of the painting. It changes the subject. Or to go a bit further: For the impressionists, light was a subject by itself.

The paintings of the “Cathedrale di Rouen” are not about a cathedral, they are about light hitting (or not hitting) a cathedral.

Light as a painting subject, think about it.