Saturday, September 1, 2012
Blue Blends with Red to Give Purple
In our elementary school art class, the stocky desks of the regular classroom where we studied arithmetic and cursive and cultural history were abandoned, replaced with long tables; we sat along each side, able to peer at the work of our neighbors to the side, but also upside down, across from us. The air in this room was heavy with the fragrance of oil paints and pastel crayons and buckets of paste. The wall above us drenched in a mural, crudely and pleasantly depicting a fantastical underwater scene, whales and dolphins and sea turtles mingling in some cordial cosmic dance, bathed in teal wet.
After learning the basics of hand-eye coordination our first few years, holding the brush and trying to understand the maneuvers of the strokes, the creation of lashes of color on a piece of thick paper or a thin sheet of newsprint, we were introduced to the color wheel. Red, yellow, and blue: from these, all other colors can be produced, a sort of chromatic alchemy, at once scientific and mythical. Our instructor explained that some colors complemented one another; on the color wheel, they are placed diametrically opposed, poised as though in some formal waltz line. Green, orange, purple, these are simply combinations of red, yellow, and blue. Squirts from a paint tube, basic and untainted, we experimented, dabbling from here and there to spread a rainbow across the paper.