In Search of Color
“The more ugly, older, more cantankerous,
more ill and poorer I become,
the more I try to make amends
by making my colors more vibrant,
more balanced and beaming.”
~Vincent van Gogh
Faced with a dearth of ideas on what to do to infuse a little color in one’s life, it’s easy to get the feeling that it might be better to simply call the whole wretched thing off despite the need or, depending on your personality, the angst-ridden compulsion, for something new, novel, and different. Before settling into the doldrums of despair, take heart via van Gogh and think about painting the cave. Following a long winter’s hibernation and a cataclysmic future, consider matching the flowers in the garden or duplicating the blush on the cheeks of your beloved. I’ve tried both which elicited astonished murmurs of approval.
An excellent source of inspiration is to be found in the paintings of John Singer Sargent (1856–1925). Although known as a portraitist of the social elite, Sargent was nonetheless a brilliant colorist who rendered his masterpieces indoors, thus providing the unimaginative with true-to-life examples. (JSSGallery has virtually all his work).
Pictured above is the lovely Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892-3).
Next consider the possibilities to be found in pottery. This art nouveau Weller umbrella stand, for example, exudes springtime color inspiration. What may be the definitive book on Weller is called, oddly enough, Weller Pottery (Schiffer Books). Or Google “Weller” or “American Art Pottery.”
Exquisite artistry in the form of Japanese kimonos is another unexpected source providing rapturous and visually stunning color schemes. An excellent website for folk, tribal, and Asian textiles is MarlaMallett.com.
A beloved classic for ornithologists the world over are the bird prints of John James Audubon (1785-1851). Pictured is the Louisiana Heron. Audubon Society (Audubon.org).
And finally, consider the wallpapers of William Morris (1834–1896), the British artist and designer of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and master of the Arts & Crafts style. Morris’s earthy tones, both understated and remarkable, are favorite collections with museums.