Color

My friend, Mrs. Stepford writes a blog on suburbanlife.wordpress.com and today it’s about colour. I answered her with this and thought I’d like to share it with you here as well.

I met an elderly widowed Chinese man at one of the art workshops I gave up in the Okanagan some 20 years ago who had taken up art as a vocation. He became inordinately fond of me and inveigled his art club friends into arranging some events – picnics, dinners,  paint outs in Kalamalka Lake park, et cetera – with me as the fourth, or the sixth, and he fawned on me. He came to class one day with a drawing to show me from his weekly life drawing class. It was a very pink nude, the kind of pink one gets straight out of a Holbein oil pastel basic package, reclining in a provocative way, very pale yellow (straight out of Holbein) hair being lifted off the face by the upper arm, and a face that looked somewhat like a Maxwell Bates disfiguration. He was very proud of his accomplishment and showed it to me, glowing, himself, as he said rather proudly, “I was thinking of you when I did this!”
I had to laugh. What else was there to do?
It reminded me that we call the oriental people “yellow” when, actually, they are nowhere near yellow at all in skin colour. Here he was thinking of Caucasians as “pink” skinned people. A good example of how culturally we assign meanings to colours. Of course, olive skinned and black are two misnomers as well. What would you think of green olive coloured people running around. Martians, maybe?
The “black” designation really covers the most wonderful range of warm browns to a dark almost deep, blue-brown colour and if one is used to drawing or painting Caucasian skin colours, it’s a toughie to get something representational  for a Negroid colouration.

This gentleman, for despite his laviscious leanings he really was a lovely, lively old gentleman, told me one time we had dinner out, that if I would paint all my paintings in vermillion red and accent it with gold leaf, I could sell every one of them and for a bundle. He had Chinese friends who would just gobble them up.
I, not being of the commercially literate sort, never got around to doing a single painting in red and gold leaf.
It just goes to show that there is a lot of culturally influenced penchant for one colour over another.

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