Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Yellow as a School Bus

5x7 inches, acrylic in my visual journal

All spring I have been taking inventory of my watercolor and acrylic tube paints, reconsidering my watercolor palette, and generally reading about color theory.  This week I have feasting my eyes on a glorious book about a short-lived art movement in France called Fauvism.  The book is The Fauve Landscape, and I have been spending lots of time looking at the paintings with their simplified shapes and straight-from-the-tube colors.  I'm thinking I'm going to have to try to shake things up a little and try some landscapes with in your face colors - if for no other reason that around here once the leaves return to the trees, the color I see most is green.  Sometimes, trying to paint in parks or summer fields I call it "death by greenery."  Maybe some non-local color is what is needed.

Anyway, I've been outside photographing reference photos, inspired by landscapes that feature rivers.  On Sunday I was out with my camera when I was captured by all the yellow school buses at the local bus company, rows of them.  So they, and not a river scene went in my visual journal.  Normally I'd use watercolor, but lately I crave more intensity, so I used acrylic and I like it very much.

A Marge Piercy poem about colors fits today's theme.
Colors passing through us
By Marge Piercy

Purple as tulips in May, mauve
into lush velvet, purple
as the stain blackberries leave
on the lips, on the hands,
the purple of ripe grapes
sunlit and warm as flesh.

Every day I will give you a color,
like a new flower in a bud vase
on your desk. Every day
I will paint you, as women
color each other with henna
on hands and on feet.

Red as henna, as cinnamon,
as coals after the fire is banked,
the cardinal in the feeder,
the roses tumbling on the arbor
their weight bending the wood
the red of the syrup I make from petals.

Orange as the perfumed fruit
hanging their globes on the glossy tree,
orange as pumpkins in the field,
orange as butterflyweed and the monarchs
who come to eat it, orange as my
cat running lithe through the high grass.

Yellow as a goat’s wise and wicked eyes,
yellow as a hill of daffodils,
yellow as dandelions by the highway,
yellow as butter and egg yolks,
yellow as a school bus stopping you,
yellow as a slicker in a downpour.

Here is my bouquet, here is a sing
song of all the things you make
me think of, here is oblique
praise for the height and depth
of you and the width too.
Here is my box of new crayons at your feet.

Green as mint jelly, green
as a frog on a lily pad twanging,
the green of cos lettuce upright
about to bolt into opulent towers,
green as Grand Chartreuse in a clear
glass, green as wine bottles.

Blue as cornflowers, delphiniums,
bachelors’ buttons. Blue as Roquefort,
blue as Saga. Blue as still water.
Blue as the eyes of a Siamese cat.
Blue as shadows on new snow, as a spring
azure sipping from a puddle on the blacktop.

Cobalt as the midnight sky
when day has gone without a trace
and we lie in each other’s arms
eyes shut and fingers open
and all the colors of the world
pass through our bodies like strings of fire.



laura said...

I LOVE your school buses, Sherry! What a great composition. I always *think* yellow and red should be offputting together, but then I'm constantly surprised at how it works!

Nancy Standlee said...

I recently purchased that book and I'm loving looking at those colorful pages..

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