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Colour Pages #2: Green, like breathing

Aggression is the other side of green.

AgressiveRed

As a 14-year-old downhill racer I was trained to attack the hill, to ski not just on top of it, but in it. At the same age I was also developing my approach to cello. My first teacher – a passionate violinist who adored Kreisler, who played always from inside the music – would beseech me to ‘stop playing like a girl’.  He deliberately invoked my rage- so I roared.

Bless him.  I might have remained a mouse, hyper aware of my environment and expert at invisibility, had he not prodded the carnivore in me.

GreenlikeChagall

So Mouse found her power.  From there I developed card games in which I could dominate, energetic ways to push and pull inside a debate with family, and learned to love the exhilaration that came with playing the bass line in string trios, duets, and as principal cellist in two orchestras.  For a deeply introspective kid it was a wobbly but decent way to explore my urge to join.

Colour_Urge-to-Join

Later this approach became more sophisticated with my Uni friends and their fine fine clever minds. Even though my intuitive self felt heavy inside the quick of their conversation I could pull and move the feeling in the room with my cello ‘sensibilities’ – anchoring where I chose, releasing when I chose, pulling and pushing the ‘dance’ of it all – though I was not conscious of my manipulations.  I didn’t know I was flexing my silent ‘roar’. I remember inflicting wounds, and feeling bewildered from inside my own invisibility.

I had an understanding that it was proper to be ‘mouse’ when not playing music.

You could call that naive, and it was.  In retrospect I could also call my naiveté an abuse of personal power, since I was – unconsciously – manipulating the human ecosystem without regard for the effects of my ‘flexing’.

Trail2

We all have this story, or a version of it; we travel into our powerful selves only by increments, we learn temperance through experience.  I tell mine here not as a confessional but because it’s a way to feel what green is.

I offer the idea that green is the colour of naiveté, of newness and innocence.  It grows into the colour of strength when tempered with awareness, and nourished by tenderness.  I think we breathe green like forests do, and like leaves do, to filter toxins from the air and drink the sunlight- to feel the deep joy of spirit at peace.

taken September 27th, 5pm.

I offer too that green is the breath that supports the roar of red.

moss like this reminds me of lungs

Some painting notes, then – a technical application of Green in 2-D  painting.

Both green and red are essential in my practise of painting.  I tend to overlap yellows and blues on the page or canvas to make my greens, but the result is the similar, somatically. If I need to I use Hooker’s, Sap, or olive greens, but I avoid opaque greens completely.  (Too many institutions were painted this flat, bad-tasting colour in the ’50s.  I do wonder why.)

Here is a little green artists’ pigment history  – (for more link to this excellent page here).  It’s interesting that for me Emerald Green acts more like crimson on a canvas if used in it’s pure form – and the pigment used by Van Gogh and Cezanne was extremely toxic.  A ‘not-green’, if it’s also rat poison.

Sap Green
Derived from the unripe berries of the Buckthorn shrub. It is highly fugitive, as is a sister-pigment, Iris Green which comes from the sap of the Iris Flower. During the Middle Ages, Sap Green was reduced to a heavy syrup and sold in liquid form. Today’s synthetic Sap Greens are lakes obtained from coal tar.

Emerald Green
Also known as Schweinfurt Green, Parrot Green, Imperial Green, Vienna Green, and Mitis Green, this beautiful but poisonous of pigments was also marketed under the name Paris Green as a rat poison. As a paint-pigment, it was prone to fading in sunlight (an effect which could be reduced in oil paintings by isolating the pigment in between coats of varnish) and also reacted chemically with other colours. For instance, it could not be combined with sulfur-containing colours, like cadmium yellow, vermilion or ultramarine blue, as the mixture resulted in a deep brown colour. However, it had a brilliance unlike any other copper green known to modern chemistry. It is said that Emerald Green was the favourite pigment of the Post-Impressionist Paul Cezanne. In some of his watercolours, thin washes containing the colour have browned, but thicker applications have remained bright green. Van Gogh was another avid user. Modern imitations include “Emerald Green” or “Permanent Green”.

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The Call of Water

I’m thinking about water.

JonesFalls

Water falls – either river or rain – speak a whole spectrum of the Language of Wet, from soft drip & trickle to pounding slam-hard powerful.  I’ve come to believe that all are profoundly healing in the long run – even Tsunami, Hurricane, Cyclone.  Sometimes tragically so, painfully so – but real healing is like that.

JonesFalls4

There are ponds, pools, tiny lakes and great lakes, oceans of deep and old – ever renewing collectors of water.  There are aquifers deep and ancient, vast and secret reservoirs of …. memory?

Memory that cools, grounds, sinks and dissolves into something the stars might sing.

Windsheild

I’m thinking about water, and how it feels like a physical and emotional home to me.  It is at root a promise of renewal – immerse, let go of air for a moment, alter the pull of gravity, of time; extend the reach and timbre of sound so you feel … lifted, suspended, embraced.  Resonant.  Dissolved, for a moment.

To rise again into the mantle of gravity, air, task, focal point, verbal articulation, but cleaner, clearer.

Georgian Bay, from the eastern shore at the mouth of Owen Sound
Georgian Bay, from the eastern shore at the mouth of Owen Sound

Water stands, too, in those places where the amphibians go and humans do not, where toxicity is dissolved.  I think of wetlands as precious, timeless places.  Perhaps Chronos lives there, listening.

littleshoreWave

The sound of water falling – rhythmic & repetitive, whether it’s a drip or a roar – is the soundtrack of our days.

There’s an idea that water is a collector of Story – from us, from flora and fauna, from sky and sun.  Horrific stories- catastrophic, miraculous, impossible – but also mundane, incidental, apparently unimportant.

I’m going to paint this.  We live in times of deep and profound change, all over the planet.  No culture, country, community or person can avoid being confronted by this, and by the deep fears we all experience, collectively and privately, in reaction.

Wave2Oct_21