Friday, November 16, 2012

Where Does Inspiration Come For You?

I learned years ago that I loved color. Then around middle age, it seemed that middle aged men went two different directions, yellow pants and garish plaids, or tan, cream and grey. Now of course there's black. My favorite comment to explain that color choice was on the Cybil Show when one of the cast stated, "WE love black until there's a darker color." That got a laugh but how true it became. I know youngsters who only wear black...pants, t-shirts, shirts, coats, hats, underwear. They say its easy to make a choice and easy to wash too. Its ALL cold. When we live in a world of color, black seems to me to be the anti-thesis.

I was the second color choice. Beige, tans, creams in clothes cars and just about everything else. I hadn't started to paint again so color was pretty much off the radar. This was a kind of a come down when you look back at it. When I got my GMC pickup the one comment was it better not be beige. Its a dark, I mean DARK hunter green and I love it.

One day my wife and daughter went shopping and asked if I needed anything. Looking at a rather filled closet said no, I had plenty. They returned hours later with bags and bags of things. Three or was it four, went upstairs on my side of the bedroom. "These are for you Dad. I'm here to help," said my daughter. She flicked and discarded about 70% of what I owned. And my wife, not to miss getting into the act said, you look terrible in tan. Makes you look like you're dead.

Since I had already been at death's door and had no doubt she knew what that looked like a few years before, that comment hit home. After stripping my closest,  shirts of teals, turquoises, reds, oranges, blues, even a lavendar and purple, colors I realized I loved but would NEVER buy myself appeared. My closest was totally transferred. Of course the bags of clothes that trooped downstairs were such dear friends; I would miss them.

It was strange that I had allowed myself to limit my own color palette. One of the things we really enjoyed was collecting the Mexican Monsters from Oaxaco. We have never been there but knew of places that carried them and whenever we would show up they would show us the latest. Our mantle, all 30 or so feet of it, is covered with these monsters. LOOK at the colors! In fact, when I am at a loss of a color combination, I have been known to fetch one from the mantle, carefully check it out at my bench and then begin again. The colors are so wild and, yes, outrageous, but amazingly they seem to work.

It is strange that we have some much color around us, yet it seems hard to actually use color. Listening to my ladies at painting class, overheard conversations and even talking to other artists, there is so much discussion and concern about color. There have been so many studies about the effect of color on people, but it seems that rather than embracing it we shy away from it. Yet, there is also a balance. Have you ever walked into an art show, an office or even a friends home and felt uneasy? I am very sensitive to color...but of course, the sensitivity to color I have may not be yours. So, as artists, designers, even consumers, we need to make it clear what we like and don't like.

My wife has finally returned to Coldwater Creek. She felt that they had a color selection that didn't flatter her. After reading about their sliding sales, they finally realized it too. Even as I man, I walked in with her the other day and felt comfortable. It is so easy today to discover what customers like. And no matter how you present them, yucky, dead or kiddie colors, with horizontal stripes or plaids across a middle aged bottom, will never sell. Why even bother? Get a focus group. Show them your line. Its certainly a lot cheaper than throwing an entire seasons selections away. Right?

The artist only has to watch the world around them. If anything, they should select and surround their self with colors. Get out there and look around. You will see what I mean. However, one more comment. If you become too trendy to your era, you will end up like the artists of the hippie 60's and the go-go 70's. Colors that NO one would touch today with a ten foot pole.

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