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Sunday, 3 November 2013

Looking at Light

It's probably not surprising that I've been thinking a lot about light recently. When in New England we went from the city to the countryside, from the coast into the forest. Most of the days were blessed with big blue skies and bright sunshine but a couple were cloudy and one was rain-filled.Whilst staying in lovely Lenox we visited the Norman Rockwell museum. His last studio, which he described as his best, was moved to the grounds of the museum from the nearby town of Stockbridge where he lived. The studio faced North as apparently this is the best light to paint by.

Talking of painting, at the end of the summer my daughter and I were browsing in a charity bookshop when she picked out this book for me.

Who could resist a book called Creative Freedom? The various artists talk about distinguishing light and shadow, the way light in a church filters through frosted glass. They talk of blending and softening, of light washes, of the ambiguity of light. The language is beautiful, uplifting, inspiring and thought-provoking for any kind of artist.

It's also that time of year when we move the clocks forward by one hour in the U.K. which means darkness falls before five o'clock in the afternoon. I don't like the cold but I like those dull, heavy days of winter even less.  We live in the city so our night time darkness does not have the intensity I remember from my childhood in a small village with barely any street lights. But about ten days ago, at two o'clock in the morning, our area had a power cut. Strangely, we awoke just as the lights went out. Looking out of the window the street was bathed in a soft blue-grey mist. It looked like a painting from Picasso's blue period. This was not the all enveloping darkness of the countryside but it was unexpected and I felt on edge. Why had it happened? How long would it last? Would all the food in my freezer de-frost?! Fortunately it didn't last long but it was enough for me to consider even more about the effect of light on our moods, the way it can lift or drag down, comfort or frighten.

I am working on my next teenage novel and I know that light is going to play an important part. In some way the nuances of light will afford my main character, Chloe, an opportunity to change her life. I am not sure how or when or where this will happen and that is exciting because it is making me more alert. I am trying to take more time to notice the way light changes from one moment to the next, the way it ripples through old glass or reflects off water. I am looking beyond the light and into the shadows, trying to capture that feeling of standing on the cusp. It is like crossing a bridge.

And one day I will have the answer to my question about Chloe and how and where the light or maybe even lack of it will transform her. Maybe it will emerge little by little or maybe it will suddenly be there all at once. That is the glorious thing about writing fiction - you just never quite know what is going to happen next.

I hope you have a good week and that it brings you whatever you are hoping for. Thank-you for reading.

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