Getting More From Art – Tenebrism

Chiaroscuro is a term used to describe an image with exaggerated contrast between light and dark. It was a method of painting developed during the renaissance by artists such as Tintoretto and was very effective in modeling images to look 3D. Probably the artist most associated with this technique was a fellow named Caravaggio. His style, called Tenebrism, took the contrast between light and dark to such an extreme that everything but the subject of the composition is obscured or heavily opaque. Where early practitioners sought the feeling of divine light on the subject (religion and mythology were the main themes of most early renaissance paintings), Caravaggio and his followers used it more as a local lighting for dramatic effect (usually a candle or lamp). If you like history, this might be a good subject to Google up on. Wikipedia has a very nice introductory article on the subject.

Using the same image as the last post, here is my rendition of chiaroscuro in a photographic composition. Hopefully, if you look up some of the great masters of the art, you will look at my humble creation and say I got it right.


Want to go further with this?
The four canonical painting modes of the Renaissance were Cangiante, Chiaroscuro, Unione, and Sfumato. The most prominent practitioner of sfumato was Leonardo da Vinci, and it is very evident in the Mona Lisa. I personally believe the more you know about art, the more you enjoy life.


2 Responses to “Getting More From Art – Tenebrism”

  1. Hi, I’m the guy who wrote the article on DPS that you seemed quite annoyed at! Just wanted to say two things. It was labeled as an ‘opinion piece’ and didn’t claim to be a work of scholarship or anything more than it was – an opinion – to which I believe your first amendment gives protection!
    Secondly your work illustrates an Important point. When photoshop is done well and, frankly, this photo shows just how well it can be Done, itit ENHANCES. My point was about alteration versus enhancement but it was missed, possibly because of my poor expression, by many posters.
    By the way I really love your pin up work.. It’s really interesting and I guess makes me think of the genius of Vargas and others. I am also a fan of George DeLa Tour and like the direction of your work as it relates to painting styles.

    • Hallo Declan,
      My comment was directed toward DPS and not you. Your Op Ed caused me no heartburn at all.
      The painter Paul Delaroche wrote in 1839 to Francois Arago that the daguerreotype signaled the end of painting (even though he later expounds its use for graphic artists in the same letter). This is an argument as old as photography itself (and probably back to the original camera obscuras). The only difference is “Is photography art” has now become, “Is Photoshop art (or is Photoshop photography). DPS runs such as article every three months or so along with articles on Photoshop techniques. Darren gave over editorship to someone I do not appreciate for the type of market the online magazine was adopted by originally.
      I image it was quite a thrill for you to be published however. The number of comments shows your article was read and taken quite seriously. Frankly, the comments I read were not negative about the article, just POVs of other readers on the subject.
      Thank you for your comments about my artwork. I am still finding direction and your observations particularly struck me in a meaningful way. It is much appreciated that you took the time to write to me. I think it is great you are reading all the comments. It was amazing that you dug my two-cents worth out of the pile.
      For what you provided to me as feedback, I am the luckier of us for having written in the first place.
      Good luck in your adventures. Please feel free to write anytime. Criticism is the heart and soul of art.

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