One of those associations is music. I like nocturnes. I suspect that a lot more people like nocturnal music than like the night. So much less to step on.
There are all the obvious nocturnes in music that conjure up that evening feeling: Chopin and John Field, Debussy and the Art of Noise, Beethoven.
There are many less obvious choices, too.
Some of my nocturnal paintings and photographs were inspired by John Balke’s “Book of Velocities” (check it out on Amazon), both the cover artwork and the music. He took his digital camera with him when he drove around at night, and randomly took pictures, not consciously trying for any particular image. Then he made music. Cool.
My personal nominee for ‘Best Nocturnes – Album’ has to be Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.” Say what you like about the lineup and the this and the that, but it’s all about the bass line, baby. You know what time of day it is from the first measure.
The winner for ‘Nocturnes Lifetime Achievement Award Thus Far’ has to be saxophonist Jan Garbarek. Like, does this guy ever go out during the day?
I’ll never know if I like the dark because I like the music, or if I’m drawn to the music because I like the dark. I do know that all of it inspires me as an artist.
What a difficult subject to paint, emotionally, and what a difficult subject to photograph, technically. Yet I keep trying.
Right now I am trying to photograph fireflies. There are very good reasons why there are no famous photographs or paintings of fireflies. So far I have achieved murky unidentifiable black pictures of something that might be dust.
There are fewer artists and photographers than musicians of nocturnes that I can name as my fictional award winners. I think it’s that visibility problem referred to earlier.
Easy choices in painting: Odilon Redon and George Inness and Rousseau. Photographer Linda Connor makes the list. Even many of her daytime pictures are taken in such low light situations that they qualify as nocturnes. And her moods and feelings are all of darkness and mystery.
Summer might seem a weird time to be talking about the pleasures of nighttime, but it’s the best time to appreciate the darkness. In the winter, there’s just too much of it.
Author and Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estes (who wrote Women Who Run with the Wolves) has a new audio set out called “Mother Night.” She says that the way through darkness and shadow leads to the wise soul. That sounds enticing to me. So I will keep trying to find that way.
The blackness . . .
Keep . . .
Keep on . . .
“Optimistic,” by Sounds of Blackness (Honorable Mention – Song).