March 9, 2013

Blue Shadows on Snow

This morning I awoke to what has been a rare sight the past couple of months: bright sun and blue sky. The slanting early morning sunlight played over the snow, picking up the sparkle of flakes, while grand shadow-shapes marched across the white expanse. 

Linear shadows sweep over the curved ground, and gently follow the arc of the distant pond.

Shadows of transportation.

Straight lines of cast shadows meet the curving lines of my snowshoe tracks, which encircle the berry patch. There is no better illustration of the cool color of cast shadows than early morning shadows on snow, when the blue is vividly blue and unmistakable.

Claude Monet, Haystacks (Effect of Snow and Sun), 1891; oil on canvas, 25 3/4 x 36 1/4 in. 
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art website.

It was the Impressionists who taught us to see light and color in this way, with cool cast shadows and warm reflected light. Oh, it was there in the world before they painted it, but did anyone see it before? How much do we have to know before we see?


  1. I kind of think the question might be "how much do we have to forget we know, before we see?"
    I really enjoy the photos you capture of what is around your house.

  2. 'we see everything by memory'
    --David Hockney.

    Altoon, have you read Rebeca Solnit's 'field guide'? There are lots of lovely meditations on blue.


  3. Thanks so much for the comments, Nanci and b.
    For me it's not at all about forgetting, but about paying attention, so that I see more and more; it is about learning, so then becoming more knowledgeable about the world around me. And by that I don't mean academic knowledge, simply visual knowledge.
    b., I don't know the Soinit book, but will looked it up and she seems to be a very interesting writer, thanks.

  4. Your question is excellent. How much indeed.

  5. Paying attention is a part. Too, I believe, we must sometimes get outside of our perspective to see better.

  6. Yes, I think she is, Altoon. Hope you like it! Here's a quote from the book to whet your appetite:

    The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This is the light that got lost..the blue of the land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This light that does not reach us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is the colour blue.