My Relationship to Color

I recently shared some work I had been doing with another member of our Climate Action Committee, after working on some branding work together to set the visual tone for the this year. She remarked almost immediately that she loved the colorwork. It’s something I’ve heard for a long time when I show people what I work on. I absolutely live for it and it’s my absolute favorite method of communication. I know not everyone sees the same way, literally, it’s the one place I know I can create in complete emotion. I’ve been doing this for years. My favorite moments in art school, if I really think about it, were when I was in the painting department at SAIC, in enormous rooms that were filled with daylight, and at night they were like an inner, warm glow, On weekends, which I often went in for, not many people were around, every motion was like an arc in space, you could really sense it. Something I noticed early on was how the colors on my pallette, while I was mixing, were possibly the best compositions I made. The colors blending into one another as there were moments in the painting practice where there were tests being made, directly experimenting with color on a small section of the pallette before putting it on the surface. Sometimes I would get distracted and just stare into the colors as they appeared in the mixing process. Anecdotally something I read recently stated that you fall in love with a painting when you just notice one color next to another one, a practice used most emphatically by Mark Rothko, a hero. I’ve been making color compositions for almost two weeks now, sometimes four or five a day. It’s the best way I have to enter into another world. It’s everything to me.

But color can be used in negative ways: propaganda and symbols of power, but color itself is magic unto itself. When we get too caught up in symbology we can miss it. Here’s an exercise I sometimes do. Pick something around you to look at, it could be anything, and let it hold your attention and don’t drift from it, just look, when you see things this way you drop into something like another field of expression. You just let the colors be, free of intent. That’s the way I learned to paint. It’s a very simple process and I often do it now. And once I stared at a wall in college and made blank pieces of paper in series to emphasize the fact that nothing is neutral, it was another experience in study that brought me back to appreciation of all things. This is an advanced practice but it’s worthwhile. Far past color or symbology, I create to just let colors be, let light be, free of any intent. We can anthropomorphize anything, and so often, that’s an objectification of reality that is truly dangerous. When I look at painting I’m in another world. That’s my foundational interest in abstract expressionism, I try and bridge those worlds. So please know that the spectrum of light is in all things, it belongs to no one, and has someone mentioned to me, in the same way it belongs to all.

When you look at my work, I hope you can come to an understanding that visual reality doesn’t have to be entwined in meaning, it can just be on it’s own, and like I’ve studied in elements of Buddhism, that’s true reality, and even then, it’s not the only way. We all have gifts and these are mine. Taking meaning away from my work is the greatest theft anyone could make toward me. The reality of my work is subjective emotion, yet clearly defined in my mind as I’m making it, not as an end unto itself, but completely free of symbology or context. Sometimes when I realize people are taking my work the wrong way I get into intense despair, and the only way I know how to mitigate that reality is by just making more color compositions, as many as I can, and I hope I share that simple beauty with you as I make this work, I can’t put any of this into words, but my work is available at any time. All day, every day, which is just what it takes for me to feel alive.

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