“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.” Alice Walker,author of The Color Purple
"I have observed a number of works which actually lead one to assume that certain people's eyes show them things differently from the way they really are ... who perceive - or as they would doubtless say 'experience' - the meadows as blue, the sky as green, the clouds as sulphurous yellow, and so on ... I wish to prohibit such unfortunates, who clearly suffer from defective vision, from trying to foist the products of their faulty observation on to their fellow men as though they were realities, or indeed from dishing them up as 'art'."
Adolf Hitler, failed-artist-turned-dicatator….aka screwed-up human, 1937
I’ve heard it said by different people from different times, but I’m quoting Titian
self-portrait, Titian, 1576
because I couldn’t find anybody earlier: “A good painter needs only three colors: black, white, and red.” (my instant thoughts…….Ok, da Cadore, but what about great painters? And is this a rule?……aren‘t rules to be broken in art?)
I asked Nelson about this statement.
He Self-portrait, Nelson Shanks, 1987.
He pointed out that many of the colors that we use today have only been developed in the last 80 years or so. It can take humans awhile to adapt to new ideas and new concepts……it took three centuries to accept a spherical Earth as a physical given, and a practical demonstration was not achieved until the 16th century by Magellan and Elcano.
He has always stated that a limited palette lends itself to a limited vision. The first time that I realized that my own vision was limited was when I was introduced to seeing color by the Florida artist, Nike Parton, (c. 1922-2005).
Landscape painting by Nike Parton
I remember her pointing out a color in the landscape that I was painting. I was aggravated that I could not see the color that she was pointing out, until she pointed it out, and panicking that I could not see it without her guidance.
Nelson also pointed out in a recent phone conversation that I had with him that learning to see color (from a colorist’s point of view) expands what you can do. ( I think of the piano…..there is more than one octave….) He commented that even if you use a reserved palette it is always good to have the experience of a colorist. I would add that it is also good to experiment a tonal palette even if deem yourself a colorist. Again, it can only add to your repertoire.
I want to end this blog entry with this…..great art is sincere, authentic, and honest, and “the color of truth is grey” to quote the writer Andre Gide.
I loathe saying that there is only one way to see the world, that there is only one right way to do something…(“Why you put another man down? No man should asunder the joy another man found“ Prince, the musical philosopher and gender-bending humanist, in the song “Push“.)
….but I am so very happy and so very grateful that I have more than four colors on my palette!
Sunday, April 22, 2012
That's the wrong color!!!!!!! ??????????
Labels: Adolph Hitler , Alice Walker , Andre Gide , colorist , Elcano , Florida , landscape painting , limited palette , Magellan , Nelson Shanks , Nike Parton , palette , Push , reserved palette , self portrait , the color purple , Titian
I live in Philadelphia, PA. I studied at the Art Students League of NY. More of my work can be viewed on my website www.robinfrey.com