Monday, September 28, 2015

Understanding Color

     The appreciation of color, the physics of color, the science and aesthetics of color is essential to appreciating painting and sculpture.  "Color and form are one."  I first heard this from Antonio Salemme 1892-1995, my art teacher.  But, the principle is as old and new as the universe itself.  It goes beyond the arts, yet the arts are founded on this reality.  A painter and one who appreciates painting should grasp this principle firmly.  A brief meditation focusing on this should be sufficient.

All you see is color.  Just like all you hear is sound.  In our culture specifically sight and color is conditioned intimately with the 'form' the color takes.  Unlike with sound, which is much more of a direct experience not associated with concepts.  We don't have to think about music so much...we listen to the music and like it or not.  This liking or not can be associated to various concepts, like what is current and contemporary, but regardless of those 'stylistic' preferences we hear it and are moved by it. 

Appreciating a painting can be just as much a direct experience as listening to music. Is just as much music. Generally however, unless something is conceptually speaking 'abstract' (i like to say, "the abstract nature of reality is the source of beauty."), the viewer gets hung up on the conceptual associations brought up by the sub-conscious mind, or, immediately goes into  a seemingly conscious and intellectual analysis of the work, which might be quite reasonable and ends up echoing the meaning of the work, but ultimately is more reflective of the 'expert on honey, never having tasted honey'.

So the artist, looking at the world or 'motif', sees the world in terms of color and color relationships.  There are so many psychological (psyche means soul, by the way...) threads connected to the art, moving out from this particular event, the artist looking at the world, that it would be too much to try to follow each one in this particular writing.  But ultimately, out of the relationship to the 'world or 'motif'  which can be either so called 'abstract' or so called 'representational', the artist makes music based on the color vibrations chosen based on that relationship.

The truth is, something so called 'abstract' is very real and exactly what you see.  Our concepts, subconscious or not fuel the mind's associative activity.  This  secondary event is not the truth of the work, but true of the reflective mind process.  And just so, something so called 'representational', can be very so called 'abstract' when seen from the direct experience of color perspective and color harmony, the music of the work.  I mean really, apples and flowers by Van Gogh or Gauguin or Cezanne are about color harmonies and brush work.  They are about the self expression of these artists' in terms of the medium, much more than they are about apples and flowers specifically.  They are all rendered beautifully according to the artist's personality.  This is one of those  threads I mentioned earlier...but finally with their work as an example, you have exquisite music as color harmonies and you have  the motif as well.  Balance.  There is also in this balance, a balance of reason and intellect as well as feeling and intuition.  Here reason and intellect is guided by the intuition.

Closing for now, here, receptivity is the first approach.  Receptivity and suspending judgement.  This will allow the judgement to arise from 'within' ultimately.  This receptivity will finally offer you a direct and intuitive experience of the meaning and 'music' of the work. It takes some practice and attention.  Key to this is the understanding of color and its ability to move you as music.  The palette and brush of an artist having as many potential tonalities as any musical instrument heard by the ear, and just as much space for the improvisation, self exploration and expression of the artist.


copyright(c)william deraymond 2015



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