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The Colors of Art and Writing

the back border, from our former backyard gardens

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” -Georgia O’Keeffe (American Painter, 1887-1986)

the back border, from our former backyard gardens
the back Color-filled border, from our former backyard gardens

I’ve always been a color girl. In second grade, I remember wearing kelly green pants with my daffodil yellow shirt, because blue jeans just didn’t match. :0) Artistically speaking, I find my preference remains the same–I love color, especially when color creates drama and interest and beauty.

Several years ago, I spent many weeks painting with a renowned artist in our area. I learned so many things about art, light and dark, painting with oils, and canvas. But one of the things that has stuck with me since is my understanding and use of the Color Wheel.
The primary colors are easy–blue, yellow, red. From mixing the primaries in different combinations, we get the rest of the colors, shades, tints, and all the beauties in between. It’s magical, really.
What interests me most is the contrast, how different colors attract the eye and please it, and how we experience the dissonance in the contrast. The crocus, below, shows Nature’s keen eye for complements, two colors on opposing sides of the color wheel. (The orange and purple and green make a complementary triad– a pleasing combination.)

In fiction, the color contrast theory also remains the same as in visual arts. Where two characters from opposite sides of the wheel come together in story, the clash between the two characters of opposing colors creates interest. Placed together in a story, the contrast between the two characters can create lasting resonance and art through story.

Character 1 + Character 2 = Clash = Interest

pink peony

Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.”

-John Lubbock

tangerine azaleas

A few garden flowers to touch along the color wheel. Yes, art colors life.

sunny daffodils

green-striped tulips

striking blue delphinium

Purple bearded Iris

Starting the conversation: How does art color your life? Look around you, in your home, on your walls, in your closet … what colors does your life favor? And what color contrast do you enjoy?