looking and listening

A little bit of weekend inspiration 🙂

This is a quote from the opening page of “The Twelve Dancers” by William Mayne, published by Puffin Books, 1964.

Blue is the colour of the sky. Marlene was in bed still when she thought that. It was the colour of the sky in a chalk drawing or a painted drawing, but it was not the colour of the sky this morning. The sky now was green over the hills, with silver clouds lying tarnished above it. Higher still the sky was bruised with overhanging morning.

[…] The hills were a different green from the sky. Miss Williams, down at the school, would never allow a green sky into a drawing. Marlene thought Miss Williams must be an artist, to see things differently from ordinary people. She could look at the sun, and make people draw it yellow. Marlene had never looked at the sun, except once. It had looked white at the moment, then black for the rest of the day. Nobody else thought the sun was black.

And I just discovered (via BBC News 24) Nick Penny’s Sound Diary 2008 – Nick Penny is a musician who’s been recording snippets of sound daily since the new year and posting them in an audio diary on his web site. Birdsong, creaky gates, wind and waves, bells, machines, even the sound of silence. Very evocative.

Madeleine L’Engle

I was saddened to learn of the death on Thursday of writer Madeleine L’Engle, aged 88. She’s probably best known for her children’s fantasies, which I first read as an adult and found enthralling, but she also wrote prolifically about art, creativity and Christianity. ‘Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art’ is very dear to me, but this quote is from ‘A Circle of Quiet’, which strangely enough, I bought just last Monday.

It’s all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anybody else, I’d never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said; by me; ontologically. We each have to say it, to say it our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes out through us. Good or bad, great or little: that isn’t what human creation is about. It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die.

Leif Enger in the foreword to ‘Penguins and Golden Calves’ called Madeleine L’Engle

… chiefly an apologist for joy – one of the rare ones who consistently upholds her own definition of art: that which speaks of what was true, is true, and what will be true.

And I would add – along with joy – love, playfulness, and mercy. A great writer and a wise woman. Her spirit touched mine and I will miss her.

happy and sad

In OCA Textiles 1 right now, I am working on the use of colour to convey concepts like happy/sad… and how resistant I am to putting sadness onto my paintbrush. Maybe because I have been feeling a little sad myself this week, I want – I only want – to paint colours that bring me joy. Interestingly, the word ‘sad’ was once commonly used as an adjective for colour, meaning

Dull; grave; dark; sombre; – said of colours. “Sad-coloured clothes” (Walton)
“Woad, or wade, is used by the dyers to lay the foundation of all sad colours” (Mortimer) dictionary.net

Sad colours were deep and dark, neutral, sober. In the OED I read that in the 18th century chemicals were added to dyes to ‘sadden’ the colours – to tone them down. So could I bring myself to sadden my colours – maybe a very dull and dirty looking brown would do it, or a constricting, choking black?

sad colours

sad colours

Debussy wrote

The colour of my soul is iron-grey and sad bats wheel about the steeple of my dreams.

Which is how I often feel. Yet even those greys and browns and blacks (or blues) – well, I wonder – I can’t help feeling that even the drabbest dingiest colour may be singing away quietly to itself in its own understated way, hiding a dark rainbow in its depths.

Really, in my head and my heart I’m with Calvin (for once)

There is not one blade of grass, there is no colour in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice. John Calvin

joy colours

joy colours