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Learning About Color

March 30, 2013 to April 27, 2013



My son is color blind, as is one out of every five young men. He sees some colors but has difficulty discerning shades of red and green. I'm sure his brain is able to provide a level of visual acuity for his scientific studies. In discussions with him I have come to more fully appreciate that the mysteries of the world around us, both natural and man- made, are interpreted in colors. However, apart from flowers and fashion, we often take them for granted. I have tried to comprehend more of the nature of color throughout my creative life and have recently created a series of paintings, I call "Learning About Color".

Lois Boyce/Charney was my mentor at the UCLA School of Art in the late 60's. Her work with Joseph Albers at the Black Mountain School informed several years of my studies unraveling hues, tints and wheels of color. She recommended me to Deborah Sussman who had just left the Charles Eames office after 16 years as his graphics and color person. I served as her assistant for three formative years. We worked on exhibit design, corporate graphics, fabric design and geometric murals always pushing the edge of colors that "went together".

The next twenty years of my life were spent understanding light mainly in its illuminating function but also absorbing the subtle reality of light's affect on how we perceive color. We have little control over the light that enables us to discern color. Candle light and bright sun on a clear day, render a scarlet red dress quite differently. Our brains have learned to interpolate.
The true magic however lies in the pigments, both natural and synthesized, with which we can control the reflection of a minute spectrum of available light to render a certain color on to our retina. In the last several years I have been working to communicate my attempts to understand these reflections through my paintings.

I start by choosing and placing colors on a nonspecific matrix. I would like the viewer to see only the colors and their relationships. On some of the works I carefully balance values to create an even rendition of colors. On others I randomly assemble colors with no forethought. I blend the pigments in sign painting enamels and apply them onto the back of plate glass. The depth of the glass allows a spectral intensity that brightens the colors. The paintings are all done with north light in my Southern Oregon studio.
Each piece is developed through studies in colored paper, colored pencil and computer color mixing. Ten original paintings are done in a specific pattern/matrix then I move onto a different layout for study. The works are all 48" square. Generally one month is required for each piece. The drying times, mixing and masking can't be rushed.

Uncovering each piece is a surprise and I continue to learn about color.