One of my favorite classes in Library School was Preservation of Materials, and I wrote a proposal for a program to encourage artists to use archival art supplies. I wasn’t making art at that time, but the subject seized my imagination.
George Field(1777-1854), was a British color-maker who manufactured pigments, and who wanted the colors to stay fast. He kept copious notes on his experiments with the chemistry of dyes and pigments, which were acquired by Winsor & Newton after his death. when I finally took a watercolor class to explore my pull toward art, I bought tubes of Winsor & Newton.
One the articles that introduced me to Field appealed to my former librarian self by including a proper format for citation:
HOW TO CITE THIS BRANCH ENTRY (MLA format)
Shires, Linda M. “On Color Theory, 1835: George Field’s Chromatography.” BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. Web. [Accessed April, 7,2014]. On a Color Theory, 1835: George Field’s Chromatography
Earthtones rise out of browns and grays and can be muted or intense. When I was 10, I came across a Sears catalog from 1972, and the shades of rust, brown, and orange created a world different than my own. This was the first time I realized an era had a look of its own. Pigments made with earth elements have been around a long time: ochre, sienna, burnt umber, but dictionaries attribute the actual term “earthtones” to the 1970’s.
Dichroic glass is a dazzler, with the ability to show off two different colors, and from which the name comes: Di(two) Chroic(Color). A thin coating of metal is applied to glass in a vacuum chamber and involving lasers. The process started out as a project of NASA for protecting equipment on spacecraft, and coatings on astronaut helmets. In a poetic turn, a NASA Technical Report refers to it as Chameleon Glass. The coating interferes with the normal transmission of light, and two colors emerge, one from transmitted light and one from reflected light.
My interpretation of this effect in my Helix Nebula Mandala is that the dichroic glass in the center above mostly is transmitted green, whereas the photo below, taken at a different angle, shows reflected magenta.
Coatings by Sandberg arose from a coatings engineer observing Murray Schwartz, engineer and artist, taking out of spec dichroic mirrors from the trash to make sculpture. Talking with Schwartz, Jerry Sandberg realized there were artists who would adore working with dichroic glass, and he started his coatings company specifically for the art market.
Color wheels fascinated me from the first time I saw one. The colors transition one to the next, round and round, and you can see the relationship between colors and their opposite across the wheel. This particular one enchanted me because it has a spinning part for visualizing even more color combinations.
Check out my Color Wheel Love Pinterest Board for more goodness.
My question as a child was not about why the sky was blue, but why it could be blue up high, but be invisible by the time it reached the earth. Shouldn’t we be enveloped in blue? I had the pleasure of creating a Blue Skies mosaic bowling ball for the creator of Smiling Blue Skies Art Jewelry, which raises money to find an end to canine cancer.
I’ve had the Irving Berlin standard Blue Skies stuck in my head. I found this lovely version by the jazz duo MINT:
As a girl from Canada, I spent grade 4 in El Paso, TX, my parents’ home town, while my father was on sabbatical. I went into Spanish class behind all the kids who had taken Spanish since Kindergarten, or who already knew the language. My Spanish teacher was encouraging, and I enjoyed drawing and labeling my familiar world in unfamiliar words.
I learned the names for colors, like anaranjado for orange tinted, named for the fruit naranja, the orange. In illustrating surprise, my subject had orange socks and an orange sweater. She looks creepily tranformed by the surprise, all the blue drained from her eyes, and an open mouth as if to scream.
Later, I realized I knew the Spanish color for green already, in the dish my mother made, Chile Verde.
Z is for ZOOM. In the 1970s, Zoom was a place I wanted to be. Although I lived in Canada, a transmitter relayed the wonder of WGBH-Boston to my television set via Spokane’s PBS station. I didn’t know where Boston was, except as the home of ZOOM, where kids my age made things. This is the essence of what captivated me: making. ZOOM kids encouraged the audience to write them letters, and the address was incorporated into the show with such rhythm, that I had it memorized.
As an adult, I found a copy of Do a ZOOMdo at a thrift store, and all the ZOOM goodness was mine for a dollar. The pages are saturated with color, and instructions for many of the projects I watched raptly at age 8 or 9. I kept it on the shelf in reserve, just happy it was there. I picked it up to write this post, and yes, the most memorable project is there: Stained Glass Cookies.
Two details imprinted themselves. One was the sour ball candy, and how the kids crushed them and filled in the cookie dough frames. The other was how baking transformed what was crushed into translucent color. It is no surprise I married a man who eventually became a stained glass artist. . .
Bonus: Bernadette Yao’s Butterfly Arms(if you watched ZOOM you know what I’m talking about.) Also, the ZOOM logo has some fine orange in it for Orange Tuesday.
Y is for Ysleta, TX. I lived in El Paso, TX during the 4th grade, when my father was on sabbatical, and we rented a house near my grandparents. I went to Loma Terrace Elementary School part of the Ysleta Independent School District. The name Ysleta came from the mission settlement, established in 1682 by Spaniards and Tigua Indians fleeing the Pueblo Revolt in NM. El Paso annexed Ysleta in 1955. I didn’t know any of this when I was in the 4th grade, but I did love the sound of the word Ysleta.
Moving from Canada to the desert of Western Texas was a shock. One way I insulated myself was reading. My father kept our schedule of visiting the library on Saturdays. I have 5 gold stars on my Texas Readers Club Certificate of Award. Each star stood for 10 books. Now I want to look up the authors in the border of the certificate. I only recognize Lois Lenski.
V is for Victoria, BC, and Suzi Beber’s Secret Not so Secret Garden. Although I have never been to this place, I feel part of it, since our Nutmeg Designs art is there, starting with the sign on the garden gate. Suzi made the gate with parts of an old headboard. It is magical.
Her sweetie Tommy made this birdhouse in the back of the house.
Suzi commissioned a mosaic bowling ball, and it travelled all the way from Pennsylvania to Victoria, to a beautiful welcome from the flowers. This is its one year anniversary in the Secret Not So Secret Garden.
Suzi is an artist, and her work blossoms forth in the garden.
Suzi is the founder of the Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund to help end canine cancer, in honor of Blues, her Golden Retriever who died of lymphoma in 1991. Blues was a companion to Suzi as she dealt with chronic illness, and the human-animal bond was part of her healing.
Hydrangeas are my favorite flower and Suzi has sent some stunning photos of the ones lucky enough to be in her garden.
I was in Victoria in 1987, and remember the beauty of Vancouver Island. Suzi has added immeasurably to the beauty.
Though I had grown up in Alberta, a prairie province, I was from the city, and thought of prairie as a flat space to plant wheat, or in the case of Illinois, corn and soybeans.
Stratoz gravitates to natural places, and walked the Urbana Prairie restoration in Meadowbrook Park many times. Sometimes I went along, and learned about the essence of prairie, the plants, birds and animals that make up this ecosystem. Many volunteers have worked on this restoration and the red-winged blackbirds must be pleased.
The other discovery was the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, a dramatic brick structure designed by Max Abramovitz in 1969 for the University of Illinois. The window of our student apartment bedroom looked out on the Krannert, and made for a majestic neighbor. Shortly after we moved in, the Krannert was hit by lightning in one of the many storms that created tornado warnings, and a patch of bricks fell to the ground.
I bought student tickets to attend plays, concerts and dance at the Krannert, and Stratoz and I would walk across the street and be enveloped by the arts, and creative expression.