Monday, April 11, 2011

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

(Click on the photo for a larger view.)
30" x 24" Oil on linen.
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There is some debate on the meaning of the phrase "burning the candle at both ends". I have thought that it originated from working late and early, so that you had to use the candle at both ends of the day. It may actually be the more literal waste of burning both ends of a candle that lies at the heart of the imagery of this painting. It is clearly traced back to the 17th-century French the expression was "brusler la chandelle par lex deux bouts". I don't really think it changes the impact of the visual image of the meaning.

In this composition, I wanted to create a definite unease with the impossible balance of the candle. I felt it was also important to avoid the static feeling that true symmetry would provide. If you take the meaning of the phrase to be "at both ends of the day", then the right is the nighttime where we are more likely to burn our resources. It may not show as much in the photo, but I feel the contrast gives the flames a "searing" brightness.

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