Friday, May 18, 2012

plum aurora alchemy

My favorite color is always going to be violet. It was my first favorite color. It's probably why I secretly rooted for a lot of the villains in all those delightful products that were marketed my way as a child. EviLyn was my favorite He-Man character. I mean, look at her purple outfit, plus she had magic powers... and then there was Sour Grapes from the Strawberry Shortcake franchise. Not only did she wear a purple dress, she also had purple hair and a purple snake. That's a lot of purple. To be fair, I also liked Raspberry Tart - I mean, she wore purple, and had purple hair in boing-boing curls.
Clash was my favorite character on Jem and the Hollograms - mostly because of her awesome purple hair. She was one of the villains, but that didn't matter to me...

Anyway, I like violet or purple.  I sit here typing this on my computer where the "wallpaper" on the screen is violet.  The clock above my desk is violet. I have a violet stapler, a violet trash can, a violet lamp... I buy a lot of stuff just because it's violet.  Oddly enough, most of my clothes are green or black.

So, while I have a favorite color, not everything is that color.  For instance, this is my office / living room / studio (when it was cleaned up some time ago):
So, while violet is my favorite, it isn't the one and only color for everything. Although, clearly, the carpet is purple. :D

Anyway, I have no qualms about other colors, or using them.

Color theory was one of those classes I had fun with in college. Not just because Vincent Castagnacci was the Prof, but because color was something I always had fun with. BTW, Castagnacci was like my favorite professor ever, even if I did occasionally refer to him as Satan, which was meant as a sardonic compliment, considering my childhood of casually rooting for the villains in cartoons... That, and Castagnacci didn't accept any sort of crap or half-ass anything, plus he had a New York swagger... it was the perfect escape from the pasty Ann Arbor vibe of organic this and that.

Anyway, I enjoy color. And I enjoy playing with color. I happen to be fond of that painting — plum aurora alchemy.  Apparently, according to the info on the back of the painting, I made it on 8 January 2011, which was a Saturday. And I probably did like 20 paintings that day, because that's simply how I paint. 

The painting is mostly just color. And considering the colors that it's made from - it could have been a total crapshoot. Dark purple, fluorescent red, orange, sky blue, dark pea green, and a smidge of yellow - via someone else's application or technique - that could have been an entirely different image.  I don't paint squares or shapes or lines or splotches or blocks.  I just paint with color.  And completely arbitrarily - albeit my color choices are often outside the box - I paint with color in such a fashion that the image is implicitly a landscape.  Green at the bottom does it every time. Of course, the horizontal nature of the application of color aids in implicating a landscape. If the paint had been moved up or down or in spotches or spots or blocks or something - then maybe it would be different.

What I'm saying - is that while my color choices are somewhat random based simply on what paint I have sitting around when I'm painting, they aren't that random.  And that artistically, I know what color of paint interfaces with what other colors of paint.  There is orange paint in that picture that is mixed on the surface of the illustration board directly with sky blue paint. Think about that for a moment: orange + sky blue, what does that =? Is it mud? I guess it might be, but it is and it isn't - because if the whole image was saturated color, then there would be no contrast. Or the orange would just sit next to the blue and the stark contrast would just be obvious.

But it's not like I pondered that before I spent 7 minutes putting the paint on the illustration board on some chilly Saturday in January a year ago.  It just happened because my use of color is the accumulation of all the things I know about it and how it occurs in paint.

I didn't carefully calculate every line or blotch of paint, not consciously. I did it because it was there to do while simultaneously being inherent, which I know sounds like a lot of polysyllabic gobbeldygook.  I think paintings are there for the visual, not necessarily a dissertation of words. Some people differ on that ideology, but then, one size never fits all.  And the accumulation of all the things that lead one person to make whatever they make based on the materials they have at hand isn't going to be a ubiquitous experience for all people. In other words, my paintings - color choices, application, style, and subject matter are the accumulation and expression of my experiences, and like favorite cartoon characters or colors - they aren't for everyone.
I like this little snippet of the painting. The graphic shows it at about 3X the size it is in reality - but look at all those colors - mixed and separate and coagulated, random and smeared, but moving in a direction based on application and technique.  For a painting that is technically nothing but color and situational pigment - there's a lot going on there.

It's not all neat and compartmentalized; nor is it demure and polite and subdued.  But in the end it's just a painting that I made one day in January based on the paint that I possessed at the time and what I felt like putting on my illustration board... and it's available somewhere out there on the internet, sometimes...

Life is full of random choices and decisions that materialize into things.
So be adventurous.


Tabor said...

You do love color. I find my photos are usually color although most artists think they should be black and white. But you can only go with what grabs you.

ju-north said...

Love those paintings!

Hilary said...

I love colour and your work is always a beautiful eye-catcher. You might or might not be happy to know that my walls are purple.. ish. Mauve or lilac might be more accurate. It's been far too long now though.. and I'm ready for a change. Suggestions? :)

Sarah Knight said...

@Hilary - I'd probably go with a slightly different shade of purple :D Although I like both lemon yellow and peachy-pink (the name of the paint color in that picture of my desk is "mermaid", funny because it doesn't really remind me of the sea)

Amy Rumph van Helden said...

I also had Vincent Castagnacci as color professor at the Univ. of Michigan. Absolutely my favorite class, but not because it was easy! It left a lasting impression on me - we all worked so hard and we rarely received a compliment. Getting one was like reaching the sky, it was the best feeling in the world. I must have stayed up late many times working on those color exercises!!! Congratulations on these lovely painterly compositions. - Amy van Helden