• Susan Klinger, Artist

What is it about sunrise?


I have long had a fascination with sunrise. Is it just the beauty? Or is it more than that? Perhaps it is the promise of a new day. A fresh start.

When I was still teaching, I had to arrive at school very early. During the season when the sun was just rising as I walked across the parking lot, I would feel such a conflict between my responsibility to walk into the building to prepare for my day, and to just stand there and watch the sky transform as the sun rose. This was before cell phones, so I didn’t have a handy camera to record Mother Nature’s show.

I believe my obsession with sunrise began on a trip to the Abacos. The Abaco Islands are a group of small islands in the northeast corner of the Bahamas. No high-rise resorts, but a more relaxed, natural Bahamas. I would set my alarm each morning so I could be out on the beach to watch the sun rise over the ocean. This baffled my travel companions. “Too early”. “Isn’t it the same as sunset in reverse?”

No, it is not the same as sunset. Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch sunset as well. But sunrise is different. There is something spiritual about sunrise. Many times, I was the only person out there and that solitude may have been part of the allure. And sunrise over the water? That just magnifies the beauty!

It happens quickly. I have painted en plein air but I don’t believe I could ever capture sunrise in a painting without the aid of photography. Once the sun breaks over the horizon, it can be just a matter of minutes before the best part of the show is over. I have been known to jump off the treadmill at the gym, to run out into the parking lot to photograph an incredible sunrise!

Interestingly, a perfect clear morning does not make for the best sunrise. Clouds. Clouds are required for the best sunrises, at least from this artist’s perspective. Funny, how what can mar a ‘perfect’ day, is what makes a sunrise so incredibly beautiful. Perhaps a metaphor for life?


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