When I went to art school, in New York city, the most useful class was anatomy, the teacher was meticulous, and forced us to push ourselves to get an accurate likeness. In his class I worked with clay.
I think it is very valuable to learn to use our senses, and to pay attention to the things we see in nature.
A few years ago, I started to pay attention to colours, and to go through hundreds of colours to find and pick my favorite. In order to do this properly, I had to find the highest quality colour medium, and to paint the colours out next to each other so I could see them, and make my choice. I started to create a simple system so others could also pick their favorite colours and to see them orchestrated together.
It surprised me, that in Art School, we were never asked to go find our favourite colours. I find this strange, because colour is an important part of art.
I have spoken to artists who had great colour classes, and it seems that the classes were a lot about mixing.
I seldom get the sense that the important question was asked, and or heard, “what is your favourite colour?”
The greatest characteristic of light is colour, it is also that the most important question in our life, is “What do you like?”
Better yet, “What do you love?” What we want, and what we like is so important.
I am not sure that the art school, managed to get that across.
Here in the Netherlands, where education is very good, I am surprised to hear that when confronted with the choices of what to study, students have a hard time knowing what they want to do, and finally after graduating, a lot of people do not like their work.
Very few students who study Fine Art end up being Artists, but rather choose a more commercial Job.
So far as “what is art?”, and “How does the art market work?”, I felt confused as a student, about both of these questions.I also chose a commercial job, and became a commercial photographer. It took a few years before I had a reason to make fine Art again.
Many years after art school, it was a video, from a soho artist, who went to help an orphanage in Haiti. He didnt know how to help, but was invited by those who believed in him. He gathered up as much in the way of art supplies, as he and his friends could afford, and carry, then set it up on tables for the kids.
It was the first time these kids had these supplies in their hands, so it was a first for them. What stood out was the speed with which the medium, responds to the user. What was amazing to me, was to see these children bringing things from inside themselves, out into the world. Pictures from their lives, and hopes for their future lives.
In Haiti, the art project did not stop their, it went on, and after the works of the kids were sold, and generated cash enough to repair the earthquake damage done to the orphanage, they went on to build carpentry and metal workshops, so that the process of bringing things from inside, out into the world could continue.
A building, piece of furniture, flower garden, or a boot, is no less a work of art, then the sketches which first came out of the mind of the designer.
So much the better if the work of the artist, can shine passion, and love into the life of the beholder.
At this time I think of art as something which after observation, and reflection, comes from inside the artist, out into the world.
The thing to me, which gives art its value, past the materials, and time invested, is primarily, that it has meaning to the maker. (and that they are doing their best)
I think it is a very important exercise to take time, and to pay attention to the colours, which are all around us, and to begin to select our favourite ones into a personal palette.
In doing this exercise, I do think that we come several steps closer to, “finding our true colours” in the philosophical sense.
For me, colour is the language of love. It is what gets displayed by the peacock, when he tries to catch the attention of a prospective mate. Without doubt colour is also the language of tasty, and I find that I tend to pick my apple based upon its colour, which I appreciate.
Colour is a romantic language, and it is also a language of warning, take for instance the pattern of colour on the back of a snake. Stay back!
On this journey, I have become aware that colour is a language, each one with its own frequency. The science of colour delves deeply into the mystery of existence, and indicates fingerprints of unmeasurable love, behind our world. I have read thoughtful writings which declare that colour can heal, as well as reveal.
If someone is cheered up, just a little, and encouraged to go away, and use their talents, to respond to this amazing life, then my job is done.
I like to help others pick their colour, and then to curate them into a custom work, a, “Colour Portrait”. This is a fun way to collaborate. Here in the Netherlands, I have been doing a portrait project mostly with students, where we do the portrait 3 ways. We select their favorite colours to do a colour portrait. We use words to express who the person is, what they studied, and why, what their plans are to make the world a better place. Finally we work together to do a photo portrait.
I have tried to find the best pigments available, usually from workshops in Europe, which have been grinding pigment for several hundred years.
I also use the best paper I can find (usually from France and Japan), and brushes (from Japan).
The circles are all done by hand and eye, which reflects a very human element of “handmade”. I appreciate that I bring years of working with my hands to the task, but I do this, to encourage others, of the tremendous capacity we humans have to absorb a fact of nature like a circle, and that once it is in our mind, the idea, becomes a possibility. See the circle, have the idea, now go ahead, and draw a circle. Of course no circle will be perfect, and it will be far from polished, like a modern day I phone, but still, have confidence, and go ahead, and draw your circle.”
-Chico (Julian Imrie)