Thursday, April 6, 2017

Color Theory

Karl Heinz Stockhausen
Oil on found canvas, 18 x 14 inches, 2017
Last year I applied for a Florida Arts Council grant and was rejected in the first round of jurying. One juror was kind enough to provide well meant feedback to help me further my career. The juror suggested I should study color. Of course this juror could not have known I had written a lengthy chapter on color theory for an art textbook and for sure the juror was right in his observation that my colors are typically pretty dirty. But I took his (yes, the comment was signed) advise to heart and decided I would increase my awareness of how I use color. In investigating how I had used color before I ran into a major problem—I could not describe the colors on my canvases using the typical names that you would find on tubes of oils. I figured I could best make up new names and thereby personalize color theory. Syphilis blue, asphyxiation black, Dionysian red, green ocher, white pain, and so on. Once assigned I immediately recognize my own colors and am able to name them in the process of application. Each painting becomes a narrative apart from the subject matter. Oh, the subtle differences between the different whites, the pain, cocaine, the rabbit and orca whites. The colors now really enhance the meaning I get from my own paintings, I really feel the pain in painting again and the harm in color harmony. My color theory works best when superimposed of the work of another, preferably clean, painter. (The painting above was done on top of a macaw by a certain E. Tunes—what a great name!) Through comparison you see my color theory at work. The cadmium and vermilion reds of the original next to my scabies and Dionysian reds and throbbing pink in the face of the portrait. (The admixture of scabies red with syphilis blue and a touch of white pain creates this beautiful purple drain.) The green ocher and tainted yellow of the shirt work very well against the cadmium yellow of the bird's coat. The portrait is of Karl Heinz Stockhausen, the German composer whose work Zyklus für einen schlagzeuger features in this year's 100. I was delighted when I found his work Klavierstück X on record, a work that had featured in my top 100 a long time ago and hadn't heard since. The other side (the Zyklus) I found however more interesting.

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