I don’t wear red. I don’t even like the color red. It hurts my eyes. And my soul. I don’t even plant red in my garden. There, every flower is either pink or purple or white. Girlie girl. Sweet. Flouncy.
I don’t know why I don’t like red. Perhaps it was my 6th grade teacher who said blonds don’t look good in red. I’m a natural blond BTW. She said her sister wore red and that she died that year, thus scaring all of us little girls who were in her sewing class. Coming to think of it maybe that’s why I don’t sew at all either. (I will add, that was the last year that particular teacher was seen in that school.)
So I was rehanging my studio after having the wall repainted and a hanging system for my art installed when I looked around and saw far too much pink hanging on the walls. Pink peonies, pink roses, pink hibiscus. Way too much pink. Time to do a color I’ve never done before.
How about black. I never even put black on my palette. But that’s not the greatest color for a flower. I wanted to use a color that I’ve never used, never been comfortable with and don’t like and then make a beautiful painting with it. Red. That’s the color I knew I needed to work with.
It was hard for me, day after day looking at the various shades of Red on my palette and canvas. My eyes felt contaminated. I used more and more eyedrops to give me some relief. They didn’t help. But as the weeks went on, I began to adjust to the color Red and it became less upsetting to my psyche.
Many weeks into the painting I knew something was off about the work. I looked at it every day. Multiple times. I popped into the studio to catch it by surprise. I photographed it & played with it in Photoshop to try to figure out the problem, turning it upside down and backwards. Trying different filters to see if color was the problem.
And one day, POOF, and it was clear. The color Red demanded action. Movement. Swirling. Twisting. Bending. This Red demanded Passion. Energy and Power. This wasn’t going to be one of my sweet pink contemplative flowers perfectly centered inside a square frame. This red flower was going to stir you up, move you to new experiences, push you to live more fully, more energetically.
I took out my opaque white paint and obliterated the center of the failed painting and began again in Red. With energy. With vision. With Passion. And quickly the painting came together and was done. After all that time. All those hours of trying to force my will onto the canvas. It had a mind of its own & apparently knew what it wanted to be. And now it is.
Naming her was easy. She’s “Passion – Red Dahlia” and she’s a 30×30” gallery wrapped canvas. I’m not in a hurry to paint in Red again. My eyes need a rest. But I do know that I need to give over the responsibility of what the outcome will be to the painting itself. It has a mind of its own. It knows what it wants to be even if I don’t. I need to trust the process. Trust the collaboration between myself and the artwork. I need to let the painting bring itself to life.