Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Colors of the Day

Line, shape, form, texture... Creating art involves giving attention to all these facets of what makes visual art what it is. And perhaps most significantly, whether vibrant or subtle, explosive or simple, we are fascinated by color.

Our very first lessons in elementary school art class include learning about the color wheel, how the primary colors red, blue and yellow are combined to make the secondary colors green, purple and orange. In college, these basics are once again revisited, with an introduction to techniques, color harmonies, optical effects that colors create.

My father was a chemist who mixed colors for house paints, analyzing the effects of various tints, pigments and additives in base stocks. In my early art adventures he supplied me with both acrylic base stocks and a range of pigments so I could mix my own paints, and unique colors. It was an advantage not available to every art student in Siegfried Hall.

The beauty of painting (making art) is that it teaches how color is altered in its appearance depending on where it is applied. For example, many paints are semi-transparent and when applied to a white background, they flash more brilliantly than when placed over a dark one. Or, to put it a different way, color is enhanced by light, made both vivid and visible by light.

Renaissance painters were masters in their understanding of how layers of color create various effects. A book of colored plates just won't do justice to the images hung in the world's great galleries. Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby.

Evidently color is a visual perception, because as I understand it many animals do not see color. And color blindness is not uncommon among humans, though usually it is in a specific color sphere. My dad had a book with 100-plus plates of various images that were designed to identify color blindness in people, since his job required a keen perceptive acuity. He'd brought it home on one occasion and we discovered that Kenny Koons next door was color blind in the realm of reds and greens. He saw both colors as grey. This helped explain why on one occasion when a red mustang went by he said, "There goes Mike Martin," who drove a forest green Mustang. We laughed and thought he was kidding. But he wasn't.

I decided to write about color today because of the richness of our fall colors here in the Northland these past several weeks. I thought it would give me a chance to color your world a little by sharing some images I have taken recently. What a wonderful gift color is. Its visual splendor is an aesthetic delight to the eyes, and one we occasionally take for granted, made possible by light...

Yes, ... Let there be light!


LEWagner said...

Kind of along the same being in awe of nature lines, this one discusses the Grand Canyon:

ENNYMAN said...

The discussions afterwards are interesting, as are the titles of Davis's books.

The comment isn't exactly about the Grand Canyon, though next year Susie and I hope to see it for our 30th anniversary.