The Importance of Light in a Painting

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As you can see in the photo, we dressed warm for our boat trip to the Knick Glacier. From left to right are; Bob Shuster, Arlene Shuster, me, and my husband Bob.

Gathering research for future paintings is one of the best parts of the job as an artist who specializes in the Alaska landscape. Unfortunately the weather in this region has been cold and wet this summer, and opportunities to do research with good light have been limited. Light is the key to my paintings, without a good source of light the landscape looks flat and uninspiring. Check out an example of a painting with a good light source; Pioneer Peak.

This was the case during our recent boat trip up the Knick River to the headwaters and the base of the Knick Glacier in the Chugach mountains. The light on that day was flat, the sky overcast, but we decided to go anyway and take our guests Bob and Arlene Shuster who were visiting from Escondido, California. I’m glad that we decided to go ahead with the trip because it turned out to be not only great fun, but tweaked my interest in another wonderful area to focus my research. I’m planning to go back as soon as a high pressure enters the area, but it may be too late this year because the glacier is surrounded on the west by tall mountains and will soon be in the shade of the evening sun.

We floated among the icebergs that loomed like abstract statues carved by a sculptor in every shape and size that seemed to be randomly, but artistically placed, reflecting in the calm, cold melt water. Nature is the perfect artist. Dwarf fireweed, and wild sweet pea bloomed profusely along the terminal moraine. We were able to leave the boat and hike the moraine, discovering exciting new views of the glacier as we climbed over the rock strewn hills and dales. This is a must-see trip for any resident and certainly should be on every visitors agenda. We heartily recommend Tom of Hunter Creek Outfitters as a guide!

Gail Niebrugge, Alaska Artist

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