In Thomas Edwin Mostyn’s Dawn we see the morning sunlight gently grazing the higher segments of the trees while the remainder of our woodland scene still occupies the shade. This perfectly captures a moment of transition, as within several minutes' time our light will have then journeyed down to illuminate the rest of the forest. In the distance we see a vaguely-rendered figure walking opposite a small stone structure, presumably a tomb or a grotto, upon which is set an eerie blue glow of light. We can only speculate as to what all of this means or what might've transpired here, but regardless the arrival of dawn seems to have cued the retreat our of our mysterious stranger.
Even if I'm not hip to its symbolism or intended meaning, I love these strange, esoteric works simply for all the interpretations they inevitably inspire. Sometimes an artist establishing a strong mood or atmosphere is more fruitful than supplying a clearly defined story.
Also, from a purely aesthetic standpoint Dawn offers much to admire. The sharp vertical lines used for our trees are what first caught my attention, and for whatever reason they brought to mind long nails standing up from a piece of wood. Not everyone will enjoy Dawn's palette of murky oranges and greens, but the highlights throughout our trees really jump out at the eye, creating a highly effective graphic. These highlights feel very natural, obviously taken from observation. Perhaps it was brave for Mostyn to establish his subject in the shaded area below where it might not have registered upon first viewing. To me, this choice of placement gives the painting a special intrigue while demonstrating Mostyn’s confidence as an artist. I also love the crisp detail of the illuminated bark founded in the upper left corner, which stands contrast to the softness of the distant trees inhabiting the morning fog.