Collecting Colors

I’m drawn to patterns, to sparkle, to color. Out in the world, I collect images of plants, animals, sky, and water that serve later as ideas for new work.

Because color combinations are so compelling, I turn to these instinctively as a starting point. When I worked a day job, I’d fall asleep thinking about the outfit for tomorrow, spurred by influences of color and texture in recent memory. These choices might include a piece of jewelry, a flower I’d recently appreciated, or the design choices I’d seen on the stage—lighting, costumes, stage effects (I worked in a theater).

Now, unencumbered by wardrobe choices, I am attempting to channel the things I see into artwork. While I’m a novice at the formalities of color theory, I’m pretty good at putting things together in attractive combinations. I build little worlds inspired by colors of nature, abstracted into geometric blocks, and scraps of paper or found objects: paper quilt squares that house whimsical flora-fauna figures in a variety of moods.

There’s nothing like a clear, sunny day for admiring colors; Flowers, leaves, trees, ground cover, grasses, succulents, bushes, provide limitless combinations of shapes and colors. No flower is ever the same as another. I look for flowers and leaves in surprising juxtapositions with other species, in their environs of architecture or street tableaux. Photographers know there’s always a sublime angle; my imagination seizes on patterns, design, colors, and shapes to incorporate into my work.

And water! My biggest temptation is a sparkling pool on a warm day. The sun on ocean waves.

The smooth, clear cover of a lake. A running stream. The freedom of immersion in water, like fish in their natural environments. These are images that appear over and over in my work.

Fortunately in California there are always flowers. Bodies of water are never far away. Most recently, I was struck by the landscape of winter blues and golds along Highway 5 through the

San Joaquin Valley, the amazing patterns of the land, the big sky, the unrelenting road, the passing fields and orchards, and the mountains at either end of the journey between the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Everywhere, every climate provides a palette for inspiration. I can’t wait ‘til we can once again travel freely to collect these inspirations from afar.

Back in the studio, I play with these colors, shapes, angles, light, shadow, and reflections. The question is, how do I make this approach meaningful to current events and other people? I’ll address the idea of meaning next time around.

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