The Beauty of Color – Guest Post by Christine Christman

Living in the season of gratitude, I am thankful to have the chance to share yet another guest blog post. There may be a few more before the year comes to a close. This week’s author has been a foundational staple in my life, a friend, a mentor, a leader. I’m thrilled she is willing to share in the journey to find beautiful things by posting here.

Author: Christine Christman

Website: http://goodwordsinc.net

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“At the Foot of the Mountains” – Van Gogh

What’s your favorite color?  Oh, I do struggle when people ask me that question.  I have known my ready answer since I was in third grade and wrote it on the inside of a cootie catcher.  Yellow.

But as I got older I would feel that I had to explain.  “Not that lemon yellow,” I would begin, “but something more like the sun when it sets in the fall.  You know leaning toward mustard.  No that’s not it, more brown.  And as I got more sophisticated about colors I could say “ochre.”  But then nobody knew what I meant so I just went back to yellow.

Why yellow?  Well I learned at a young age what artists and writers have told us since the beginning of time.  Color is beautiful in the way it evokes emotion.  Yes, yellow is known as the “happy color” since it represents the energy of the sun and the fresh scent and welcome tang of lemon.  But that’s not why it’s my favorite.  Ochre is my favorite because every time I am around it I feel settled.  Ochre is a complex mixture of yellow and brown that combines earth and sun in some beautiful and evocative way that I can feel into.

I want to describe autumn, my favorite season, as ochre.  And yet it is painfully insufficient to describe even one of the many versions of yellow in the leaves tossed up around us.  Is that really ochre?  No, not really.  What color IS it? And the reds, ah the reds.  What is that particular red that emerges in an oak leaf?  Even using the word ‘red’ feels so inadequate.

Slate blue is another of my favorite mystery combinations but with blue and gray; ocean and sky, deep blue water and dark heavy clouds.  It might feel ominous to some.  But, instead, it pulls me into a pause at the edge of creation.  Slate blue evokes an entry into the unknown that will somehow nourish me back to creativity.

And now you are thinking about the complexity of your favorite color and the emotions it evokes for you.  At least I hope so.

Color is also beautiful because it points us to something infinite. I learned that from Vincent Van Gogh.  From a distance, the colors in his paintings look magical, mysterious, not like anything you could find, even in the 64-count Crayola crayon box.  I used to just walk right by those magical colors in the Starry Night print, or even in original paintings at museums.

But on my last visit I was able to get up close to some of Van Gogh’s work.  And I was astounded at the myriad combination of color he used to create one small section of each painting.  Say a field of grass.  The way he layered paint allowed me to see into each image a seemingly infinite number of brush strokes each with a different color that also had been created by  mixing another set of colors.

If all color starts with Red, Blue, Green and Yellow, then the possible combinations must be infinite, as painters throughout time have demonstrated.  It takes just a moment to consider the vast combinations that go into a single painting, along with the complex and nuanced emotions that can be evoked by a single color and to be drawn into infinity.  To experience the Divine.

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Christine Christman works in marketing communications and online learning.  She explores her world through literary writing on topics such as archetypes, symbols and feminine spirituality. She is also my mom. You can find her at http://goodwordsinc.net.

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