The three primary colors of paint are red, yellow, and blue. Together with the neutrals, white and black, these colors can be mixed to make any other shade, tone, or hue that exists on the color wheel and can be perceived by the human eye. When all three are present in a painting, it inherently has a feeling of completeness, wholeness, and balance.
How those primaries are mixed, allowed to dominate, or allowed to recede does a lot to determine the feeling the artwork projects into the viewer’s mind.
All of the artworks I am showing you today haven’t appeared in my blog for some time. But all of them are interpreted in primary colors. I won’t tell you how each picture is supposed to make you feel. I am just the artist. Only you can prevent forest fires, and only you can interpret a painting and tell someone else how it makes you feel.
The Rowan Public Library has a storm sewer drain near the parking area on the west side of the building. How do you prevent cars from parking on top of it and risking significant damage to two different things? The librarian’s solution? Make a rock garden around it so that only extremely stupid people would still consider parking there. And what better summer activity than to invite kids and senior citizens to come in and paint the rocks for decoration’s sake.
The goofy spotted frog and the Star Wars rebel flying goose are the rocks that I chose to paint. You can see that I had more fun than I did artistic epiphanies. But that is the thing about art. Bob Ross says that it can bring good things to your heart. And it does even more so when you share it with kids and other people.
So I had a relatively good time just painting rocks for fun and cracking simple, stupid jokes to make little kids laugh.
Mom had fun painting flowers and smiling suns on a rock next to her good friend Annie and Annie’s great grandson. You see them in this picture taken by the little boy’s grandmother.
And my daughter really got invested in the zen experience of putting paint on rocks. She took the longest of anybody to finish her second rock. And, of course, her little dragon-obsessed creation was easily the best one of the day.
A simple, black-and-white drawing done in pen and ink. Elegant. Easy to understand. At least, if you can get past the weird little kid inside a birdhouse who has apparently saddled a mutant pigeon-sparrow. The black and white is the essential underpinning. The bones of the idea.
So, adding color makes things a little more complex. I started with the girl’s face. Here is where I establish the basic color-theme. And give more character to the surprised face peering through the portal of the bird house.
Much of the work in coloring this little articus projecticus is a matter of pattern. I like doing wood-grain patterns in colored pencil. It looks good when it’s finished. But it also takes time to do line after line.
The last step is to color the bird-riding fairy-kid. Here I am completing the color-echoes and the pattern-making. More lines. More care with giving the shapes volume by using light and shadow. And now we are at the final destination. The picture is complete.
I recently posted about being synesthetic and discovering how I am different from normal people. Here is the post if you are interested.. Then I discovered that Kanye West is also synesthetic as he gushed some southern-fried crappie-doo about how wonderful he is as an artist because he sees the colors of his music. Well, now I don’t want that mental affliction any more. I don’t wish to be anything like him. Of course, it has to be incurable, doesn’t it.
Now I am wasting today’s post on another metacognative thinking-about-thinking style of paragraph pile when I could be rhapsodizing about the humor of Dave Barry or the wisdom of Robert Fulghum, the author of
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
I could be shamelessly promoting the work of artists whose works I love instead of examining the random filing cabinets in the back rooms of my stupid old head. But I can’t because I now need to explain myself to myself again. Self doubt and self examination are features of being an artist. We reach a point where we have to think about how we do what we do, because if you don’t know where the magic comes from, you might not be able to call on it the next time you need it.
I am a self-taught artist. I have had art classes in high school and college, but never professional art training. I know how to manipulate the rule of thirds, directional composition, movement, perspective, and lots of other artsy-craftsy techniques, but it is all a matter of trial and error and an instinct for repeating what works. I have had a good deal more professional training as a writer. But I do that mostly by instinct as well. Trained instinct. I have reached a point where my art is very complex and detailed. And I don’t mean to suggest there are no flaws. In fact, I am capable enough to see huge, glaring mistakes that really skew my original intent and make me feel hopelessly incompetent. But others who see it and don’t know the inner workings of the process can look past those mistakes and not even see them. Given enough time to look at my own work with new eyes, I am able to see at least some of what they see.
Now that I have totally wasted 500-plus words on goofy talking-to-myself, what have I really accomplished beyond boring you to death? What’s that you say? You are not dead yet? Well, that’s probably only because you looked at the pictures and didn’t read any of my sugar-noodle brain-scrapings in loosely paragraph-like form. And if you did read this awful post by a colorblind artist who doubts his own abilities, you probably didn’t learn anything from it. But that’s not the point. The point is, I care about doing this, and I need to do it right. And I managed to learn something… how to ramble and meander and make something that is either a hot mess… or something that vaguely resembles self-reflective art.
This post is about Mickey and his crayons. Little Mickey always loved to color. He always had a cigar box full of Crayola crayons that he treasured and kept where he could always reach them whenever the art urge struck. (Well, except for that one time on the drive home from Mason City, Iowa when he left them in the back window of the 1960 Ford Fairlane and the sunshine melted the entire box… tears there for about a week.)
But Mickey has grown up and graduated to colored pencils. Radical change, huh? The need to color stuff is still there. So, what do I do about it now that Mickey is a rational, responsible adult? Well, you know there is a surge in the publishing industry of adult coloring books. I think that means that Mickey is not alone in the fevered fetish to put crayons… er… colored pencils… er, some kind of color to black and white pictures with plenty of white space to fill in. This is something I do while watching television. Other adults do it during meetings, at school functions… during sex… It is something that occupies your hands and a tiny portion of your brain and fills in all the blank spaces with color. And Mickey has the added advantage of not having to buy adult coloring books because he can make his own black and white pictures to color.
So, the crayons are out… er, the colored pencils, anyway. Mickey has this new picture he drew that honors his childhood cartoon hero, Astroboy. He is going to fill it in with colors and patterns and two-or-three color blends and have a whee of a time while watching Supernatural or The West Wing or Dr. Who on Netflix. It is a hoot.
And you may be wondering why the narrator of this silly Paffooney post always refers to himself in the third person as Mickey when talking about his art? Well, no one actually calls me Mickey in real life. Mickey is the cartoon character who lives within me and controls the part of my brain and personality that paffoonies out all kinds of art. It is not complicated. Mickey is definitely me. But not everything I am is Mickey. Mickey will always be that little boy with the cigar box of crayons coloring an original picture of lions eating that bully in third grade who called him a sissy for liking coloring books.