On a morning when there is an inch of new snow, thick fog and a temperature hovering on 0, I am watching the sun trying to break through the foggy cloud. One minute the sky is dark and there is barely enough light to see, the next the sun has broken through and appears momentarily as a golden ball. Then a hazy light filters through and transforms the scene before another cloud passes and it is dark again.
I was reading yesterday evening about light and how it influences the painter. Artists who live up here in the Yorkshire Dales wax lyrical about the quality of the light in the hills; the St Ives school of artists were totally inspired by the reflection of the light off the sea.
Claude Monet regularly left Giverny and went to visit his brother in Rouen. In 1892 when he was staying at a hotel in the city, he was so inspired by the light falling on the stone work of the cathedral that he decided to do a series of studies. It resulted in a total of thirty incredible pictures, each one marked with the time - e.g. afternoon, 2pm to 3pm - each one different and yet the same subject. What he was saying was that the look of the stonework changed at every hour of the day, depending on the quality of the light falling on it.
Apparently, I also read, John Constable called his picture "The Hay Wain" by the title "Noon" because he was interested in how the light fell on the scene at mid day. However, his friends christened the picture "The Hay Wain" and that title stuck.
As I write this, just after lunch, the fog is back and it is dreary and dark outside. The snow is slowly dripping away and the sun is hiding behind the blanket of fog. But it will be back.
There is something wonderful about a hot, sunny day with a cloudless sky and a blazing sun (I wish), but I can't help thinking that the little subtleties - the shaft of sun shining through dark clouds, the early rising sun striking the bole of a tree or the end of a barn, the sun shining through raindrops - these are the things which make us gasp at the sheer beauty of a scene.
However, until such an occasion, the wood-burner is lit and glowing, the kettle is on the hob, the dog has been walked and I shall settle down by the fire. Today I have to get the farm ledger up to date and balanced - so I might as well do it in comfort.