Guiding Lights

Guiding Lights

“Guiding Lights” by Dave Arruda

Acrylic & LEDs on Canvas (18×14)

Not for Sale

Last week marked the end of my first full semester of art classes! I’ve had the distinct pleasure of studying acrylic painting under Doro Simone at the Plymouth Center for the Arts. Together we’ve worked to define and refine my style; a three-tone approach inspired by the abstract, color-field landscapes of Neil Williver. Through this study I’ve come to appreciate and leverage the use of color and light in ways that I could not have imagined before. I’m finally ready to begin sharing some of my completed works with my friends and readers.

“Guiding Lights” represents a second and more complete take on the very first painting that I attempted back in January 2012. This work was inspired by a hike that I took in the Chugach State Park near Eagle River, Alaska in June 2011 but does not depict any specific landscape per se. My memories of the Alaskan wilderness are dominated by the grandeur of the mountains, the density of the pine forests, and the surreal colors of the night sky; all of which I’ve attempted to capture in this work. Those who travel to the North Country during the summer months may expect to find especially long days and short nights. I found truth in the tales of how the Sun never fully sets but what I didn’t expect were the amazing colors of this midnight twilight. The sky glows pink, purple, aqua or blue as the Sun drops just below the mountains for those few short, sleepy hours. An incredible and mesmerizing sight, indeed!

However, the real symbolism in this painting exists in the twilight sky. Here, the Big Dipper dominates the sky-scape as it points its way toward Polaris, the North Star. These stars have served as a guide to wilderness travelers for thousands of years. To me, these unwavering beacons are a symbol of hope that will guide us through life’s most perilous journeys to the warmth, comfort, and peace of home. When I composed this image I wanted the stars to be more than just spots of paint on a canvas. I dreamed that they could be alive and dancing in the sky above the mountains. So I turned on my inner geek, wired in some small LEDs, and programed them to flicker with a random beat to simulate the twinkle of the stars! The result was this magical scene that I call “Guiding Lights.”

Lots more paintings and short stories to come!

-Dave

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