“Color Is Very Important To Me”

Many years ago, when I lived in Scotland in a little village by the sea, I was on a walk on the beach with a couple friends of mine. It was early evening, and as always in that clean-washed, rainy land, the colors around us vibrated and sang with intensity. Even as I write this description, I can practically taste those vibrant shades: the navy blue and green and black water, the sky filled with orange sunset clouds, the pink sand, the misty green mountains on the Isle of Arran. I’ve never lived anywhere where the colors were so vivid.

As we three admired the loveliness, one of my friends said, “Color is very important to me.”

That’s more than 10 years ago now, and I still remember her words. Maybe because I didn’t know quite what she meant. Maybe because it sounded corny or melodramatic or embarrassingly intimate. I could have told you at just about any point in my life that beauty was very important to me. But color? Hmmm…I’d always thought of color as part of something else, not its own entity.

I thought of my friend’s phrase recently, as I was working on a pendant. I had planned on making one of my signature pieces with a jade stone, but after I oxidized the metal, I placed the jade in the bezel and decided it didn’t look right. The gunmetal blue-gray oxidation didn’t do anything to bring out the green of the jade.  The stone was a standard size and shape, so I looked in my stash and started playing.

As I was trying the various stones…

…(nope, yellow amber looks washed out)…

…(and the turquoise doesn’t work either)….

…(the red sardonyx is somewhat better and so is the carnelian)…

…(but it’s really the lapis or the black sardonyx that works)…

…color became a separate entity for a moment.

Being able to separate color as a stand-along attribute is learning to have an artist’s vision of the world.  It’s something about the ability that a painter has to look out at our red barn and know which shades of not only red, but gray and pink and brown she’d use to capture the effect of our red barn in the spring sunshine.  It’s about the ability to really SEE, not just allow the brain to paint the whole barn in one basic red. It’s a whole new way of using the eyes that I’m discovering as I make my artist’s journey.

Time to go out to the workshop and finish this pendant!

Cynthia

Magic Carpet Dance Arts

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