Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's Just a Name

To this day I don’t know what happened. I zigged when I should have zagged, or the earth shifted to the left, or maybe my studio is haunted. At any rate, 2 entire trays of pastel sticks leapt off the table and crashed to the floor. That would be maybe 250 pieces of pigment ranging from palest to darkest in blues, greens and violets.

  Y’know those times when you are so stunned all you can do is gape like a fish?

As luck would have it, a friend had recently sold me the last of her high-quality stash of pastels, and I knew that someday, somehow they would be integrated into my already full trays. What better time than the moment I am ankle deep – literally – in sticks already strewn hither and yon?

Four days later…

I ask you: what color is “wode”? Where does “heliotrope” fit on the color wheel? Is “aerial yellow” yellow-er than “atmosphere”?  And what about “#106”? Is it warmer than, say, “B712”?

I'm an equal-opportunity pastel purchaser. Great American, Diane Townsend, Art Spectrum - if its the right color, I'll buy it.

Oil paints are mostly labeled according to a historical system using clarifying words like ultramarine blue. This is a warm blue, always a warmer than prussian blue, which is always a very cool blue. Always. Cadmium red is an established color that varies only slightly from brand to brand. It is red

Pastel sticks are numbered and named according to whomever owns the label. Is “dead head” warmer than “sinopia”?  P12 lighter than 782.10? Compare 106 to orange, please.

Would you buy a painting if you knew it were splattered with “dragon’s blood”?
Same color, different value. Or is it? 
Is it warmer than "purange"? For those of you who keep up with my meanderings, as it turns out, purange is most likely dead head. Or sinopia. Caput mortuum, maybe. One of those. 

At any rate, re-configuring several hundreds of sticks of color has opened my eyes to all kinds of possibilities.  Two weeks ago my hand would have grabbed a color out of habit. Now I scan new hues, intensities and combinations, (regardless of their name). 

2016 Patricia Scarborough Coming and Going  9.5x9.5 pastel
What started out as disaster has actually given me a bump in a new direction, and I like it. 

Still, would Ray Charles's masterpiece sound the same if it were "Am I Wode?


Cathyann Burgess said...

bUt oh what lovelies came of it!

Patty said...

Oh, it's been quite a couple of weeks getting re-corralled here at Scarborough Studios!
Cathyann, thank you so much for your kind comments!