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Beauty in the Ordinary

Figures: Light in the Dark


There seems to be something sacred, something universally recognized in opposing forces balancing each other. Sacred and profane. Movement and stillness. Light and dark.

At the release of this painting, we are poised at the start of a new year. We’ve journeyed into the depths of winter, yet since the winter solstice, the days lengthen ever so slowly. We are in the midst of yet another of nature’s cycles, hoping for rain or snow to replenish and reset the dry season, and enduring longer, colder nights. Some can’t stand winter’s harshness, yet others revel in this invitation to hunker down, turn inward, and tune into this season of darkness. And still, at times, nature offers her moments of reprieve. The break in the storm. Blue sky peaking out behind grey clouds. Songbirds flitting and feasting before the next deluge. It is in these moments that we remember: this too shall pass.

In Seamus Berkeley’s “Light in the Dark”, the figure rests in stillness, yet simultaneously seems to emerge from the shadows, emerging from pure, bleak darkness. She seems poised as if moving toward something: coming out of the darkness, and into the light. Yet in this painting, she is the light.

Or is this painting so striking because it conveys the simple, powerful notion of hope? Just look at the figure’s face. There is softness to her expression, yet the complexity of her painted features expresses curiosity and openness, gently inquiring into what is next for her beyond the darkness from which she emerges. She seems to be sitting, yet one might also suggest that she is mid motion, in between the surrender of rest, ready to move up and out of this moment toward her next experience in life. She is a beacon of light, of transition, an invitation to explore what comes next. The power of this luminescence comes from her. We don’t see the source of the light, or much light at all, really, so our eyes may trick us into believing she is emanating light from within her. She is the light in the dark.

What a powerful reminder of the volition we can access. When swathed in darkness, what helps guide you toward the light in your life?

Light in the Dark, original oil on canvas, 7.75″ x 9.75″, framed

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Original oil painting by Seamus Berkeley