I have always been fascinated with the idea behind the Italian word, “Chiaroscuro.” There is no English equivalent. For a language to have a word that encompasses both light and dark into one unifying concept, speaks volumes about its people.
Chiaroscuro [kjaroˈskuːro]; is the Italian word for light-dark (chiaro, meaning light, and scuro, meaning dark).
In art, it is “the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition.”
As an artistic statement though, I feel Chiaroscuro is much more than just “the use of bold light sources against deep shadow to define three-dimensional objects.”
Masters of this technique such as Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt used Chiaroscuro to tell a complex story; a story of deep longing, or profound contemplation, or far-reaching sadness, or beguiling mystery.
When I was first introduced to the Art World, I fell in love with da Vinci and Rembrandt, but didn’t understand why until I attended my first art history class in college. The instructor spoke of Chiaroscuro in such a passionate way that I knew, finally, why I was so taken with these two painters.
Although I am not a painter (really wish I could express myself through painting… tried for a bit, but it became painfully clear that oils and acrylics just aren’t my medium), as a photographer, I’m always on the lookout for great contrast and “depth of field.” The interplay of light and shadow carried through to a “vanishing point” (like these photographs), has always compelled me to pull out my camera (which, lately, means my iPhone). And when the photo has a focal point that tells a story, it becomes art.
As an author, the concept of Chiaroscuro intrigues me. It inspires me to include within my stories all that is encompassed in a soul’s human incarnation. I have spent a lot of time studying the balance of opposites. The harmony of contrast. This sacred symmetry is crucial to the experience of being human. We cannot know light without darkness, joy without sadness, beauty without ugliness, for we can never truly know a thing without its inverse.
Using Chiaroscuro as my cornerstone when writing fantasy helps me stay focused on what’s real in the human condition, and what it takes to truly transcend human limitation.
The way I see it, we are all born with limitless potential. Then, growing up, we are taught to embrace limitation by well-meaning minds.
I hope to teach, through the vehicle of my stories, how to reunite us with our infinite potential and I believe we must start by learning to embrace the lightness and darkness within.
The Light Masters (from my LightBridge Series) would say it like this:
“When we can learn to dance with our own inner chiaroscuro, true balance becomes possible, healing commences, and we begin to live the life we’re meant to live.”
Ciao for now,