Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment. – Claude Monet
In November, when the weather is getting colder, daylight is in short supply, and the world looks rather dreary, I find myself longing for colour. When I was a child I gloried in my colouring books and crayons, and my most prized possession (other than the contents of my bookcase) was my box of crayons, the one with 64 colours that came complete with a sharpener. Just opening the box and getting a whiff of that wonderful waxy fragrance was enough to make me happy. As I got older, I graduated to markers and posters, then later in life I re-acquainted myself with the joys of crayons, through colouring with children. I love the current trend of colouring books for adults – I can finally stop pretending that my stash of paper, crayons, markers, and pencil crayons are for the kids who come to visit.
Reading picture books is one quick and easy way to brighten the dullness that this time of year sometimes brings. There’s no shortage of beautifully illustrated children’s books in the library, so everyone can find a favourite. Two of my current top picks for livening up a grey day are Michael Hall and Todd Parr. Michael Hall’s use of shapes and colour to tell a story is intriguing, and the bold lines and even bolder colours in Todd Parr’s books never fail to bring a smile to my face.
Looking at what artists and their imaginations have created is another wonderful way to bring colour into your life. Even though many of Lawren Harris’ works are of the far north, the colours he chose brings light, if not heat, to a frosty landscape. Don’t want to look at more winter? If warmer climates are more to your taste the incredibly vivid shades of Georgia O’Keeffe‘s desert paintings are a wonderful choice. For a change of scene, try Henri Matisse‘s works, which burst with colour, joy and exuberance.
There’s virtually no limit to the colours, materials and techniques you can use to create your own work of art. Whether it’s Bob Ross’s happy little trees in oils, a portrait in watercolour, using a computer to create digital art, or just plain old crayons on paper, if you can come up with it, there’s a book or dvd out there that will help you create it.
Sometimes the use of colour can cause controversy. Check out Voice of Fire, the hotly debated purchase by the National Gallery of Canada. There are only 2 colours on the canvas, but the ongoing discussion ignited by this piece has been far from monochrome. Is it a brilliant piece of abstract art? Or an overpriced meaningless image ? You be the judge.
Pigments, dyes and paints have a fascinating saga of their own. Victoria Finlay has written two captivating books on the subject: Color: A Natural History of the Palette and The brilliant history of colour in art. Both of these books discuss the fascinating history behind various colors, the paints preferred by certain artists, and which artist reportedly ate his paint. There’s also the sometimes surprising materials that paints and dyes are made from, like the stinky shellfish used to make purple in Roman times and cochineal beetles, which make a unique shade of red.
There are many ways to appreciate colour and the joy it can bring to your life. So don’t wait any longer – open up that crayon box, take a deep sniff, and let your true colours come shining through today!