at a time when i couldn’t afford paint and knew nothing about painting, i painted. i was drawn to big canvasses and the household cans of black and white paint in the basement workroom. there were housepaint brushes on the workbench, many with twisted brushhairs and dried wall paint from previous projects on the handles. they felt good in my hand. i didn’t know what i was doing, but i was compelled to do it.
and so, my paintings are black and white. layers of white on black and black on white and white on black on white and black on white on black. i brushed on paint; i stood back and spattered paint. i kept going until i felt “stop”. when i ran out of canvas i taped off a rectangle, ventured out with the leftover from a can of khaki interior paint, and painted on the wall, later framing the box with a clearance frame, broken but not obviously so.
in that time of a compelling need to paint, to preserve emotion-in-black-and-white-on-a-canvas, i wonder what my paintings would have looked like had i access to all the colors in between? where would i have gone with mountain meadow green or razzle dazzle rose or canary or cornflower or atomic tangerine or fuzzy wuzzy brown?
anyone who has merely stood outside and looked up at the sky knows that the colors of life are as transient as breath. they morph and change in the moments that go by. capturing color is like capturing the wind. one cannot see color without light reflections, refractions, wavelengths, shadow, absorption. they work together so we might see the twilight sky, rainbows and unicorn horns.
is black black without white? is white white without black? is cerulean blue without scarlet? is any spectrum complete without all others in the band of light, without all the wavelengths? any spectrum at all?
do we actually realize that none can exist without the other?
“all colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.” (marc chagall)