Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Waltz of the Colors
Last month we had a benefit sale for 1+1, the charity that the Guerrilla Painter started for rural development in Latin America. There were all kinds of things from Bolivia & Peru for sale. One of my friends, who had been to Bolivia, was commenting about how she liked the oddball things: antique aguayos (hand-woven woolen pack-cloths) and a lantern from the silver mines in Potosi, where she had actually been inside a mine. She remembered how amazing it was to see the miners, working hard and smoking cigarettes inside the mines and using these lanterns, which burned up oxygen which was already scarce enough at over 13,000’ altitude. Obviously, when she looked at this little lantern, she saw something different from what most people saw.
This is what happens when we look at our surroundings for things to paint…we see things differently from anyone else. Sometimes we end up looking for subject matter similar to what we’ve seen other people paint, but this conventional wisdom can often result in uninteresting paintings and frustrating experiences. It’s more work to see things with fresh eyes, and it’s hard to value our own vision sometimes, but isn’t that what painting is all about?
I happened to be in Denver yesterday, standing in a parking lot near a highway, waiting for a few minutes. I focused on a highway sign and the cars going by. I wondered how I would paint such a mundane scene, and then I noticed how colorful it really was. Blocks of bright colors interacting, like a dance.
One palette, many visions. You choose. Austere or rich, or a combination of the two...traditional or edgy, ambiguous or vivid...
"In self-trust all virtues are comprehended." - Ralph Waldo Emerson