On Color…How I See It…

I have always known I was different than other people. Growing up, it was like I was suddenly dropped into another country where I did not quite speak the language.

I could not see living as others did. Not knowing what I did want to do when I grew up, I went to community college. As I was always making things, creating things or drawing things. I thought maybe I would major in art.

The first bombshell was Design 101. Day 1, the teacher wrote in large letters on the black board the definition of design. I will never forget it:

“Design: The conscious attempt to impose meaningful order”

Allrighty then, I was off. That’s what I wanted to do. When it was possible, I transferred to California College of Arts and Crafts – now called simply “California College of the Arts” as who wants to be associated with the “crafty folks”?

I took every design course I could find and every drawing course. I didn’t really like or understand painting.

While I earned more than enough credits for a BFA, I never did get one. Long story.

And then I tried painting. I fell into …. color. Turns out I love color. I love everything about color. It took a long time for me to figure out that I have what is called “synesthesia”.

Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses. People who have synesthesia are called synesthetes. The word “synesthesia” comes from the Greek words: “synth” (which means “together”) and “ethesia” (which means “perception).

That sounds all fancy and complex but I think most of us have a bit of it. Have you ever heard music in color or do you hear numbers? That’s all it is. A little crossing of the senses. I can’t tell right from left but I always know which way North it. It’s just wiring.

In my case, I taste color. It is not like blue is broccoli but there are sweet blues and sour blues and crunchy blues. Some colors also are “major chords” and some are “minor notes”. People talk of “warm” and “cool” colors and how cool recedes and blah blah but I can’t feel or see that. I can reason out which color is cool and which is warm but that is only going by knowledge of theory – I can’t feel it.

But one of the joys of aging is that you learn to just “do you” and not try to be all things to all people.

“Become such as you are, having learned what that is.” ~Pindar

So, on this blog, I won’t be talking much about color in the sense that it is taught in school. I just do what I do and what I am feeling and I don’t get into pigments, cool vs warm, opaque vs transparent and technical stuff. I will let others tell you about “PB15” vs “PB16”. And I am not a purist. I am not going to lecture you on how you only need “6 basic pigments” on your palette or how you should always mix your own greens. I don’t take orders well. To me, if it works, it works. If I want to use 7 different shades of blue in a piece, well, that is what I want to do. You do you. I’ll do me.

Color is the essence of the universe to play with, to spill and scatter and swirl and then swim in the shallows of. Or something. While I am dead serious about painting and design, let’s try to keep it fun, shall we? It is just not rocket science, or at least it does not  have to be.

So that’s who I am. Let’s go paint.

Fist holding paint brush