The Influence of Moonshine

Reflections on night work.

mountain beside calm body of water

It’s easy to give short shrift to surface reflections. No one wants to be called shallow, but look at the distances to be traveled here. I know a guy who only paints at night, his subject always other paintings, who limits himself to reading them by moonlight. I asked him why. As he sees it, the fully lit subject offers a false sense of clarity which masks the problem of too much information. The more you look, the more a well-lit form will start to fold, collapsing in on itself. It can be very distracting. This happens to me all the time, so I was very intrigued by his solution. By taking away the pretense of clarity, he gave himself over to what he could imagine. By removing the pretense of originality and limiting himself to the study of another’s work he was paradoxically freed. As he puts it, I take comfort in the discomfort of not being myself.


Inspired when I encountered a description of David Schutter’s Night Work. I take creative liberties with this imagined interpretation of the artist’s process, adapting insights from a recent BOMB interview.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

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