Thursday, 14 February 2008

Rediscovering Red

I tried to paint an abstract piece recently, using different shades of red. Unfortunately it was a complete disaster! I found it very difficult to fight the urge to produce something contrived, and just be free and expressive. In all honesty, all I really wanted to do was paint the whole canvas red. Just plain red. I should have just followed those feelings in the first place instead of trying to create something that would be visually more interesting to others.

When I was in my mid teens I loved the colour red. I probably wore it in one way or another most days, if not every day, even if it was just a red bow in my hair. Then for some reason I seemed to lose interest in the colour. Over the years my loss of interest has turned into a loathing, but I’ve never really known why; I just hated red. For years I haven’t worn the colour; I don’t even own any red clothing or accessories. I have no red furnishings in the house. I don’t even wear red lipstick or nail varnish. I’ve refused to buy a car simply because it was red.

In my introductory post I wrote about the day I was refused entry into Art College back in 1988, and the devastating effect that had on me. Although this experience had stopped me from being creative for nearly 20 years, I never fully realised just how deeply it affected me until my recent artistic inclinations forced me to analyse my feelings about it. I thought back to that day and tried to remember more about it. Suddenly I remembered something that I hadn’t given any thought to previously – I was wearing the colour red. Everything I wore that day was red – a white dress with red dots (it was the ‘80’s), red jacket, red shoes, red handbag, red bow in my hair – it was my favourite outfit. Now I understand why I hate so much a colour that I used to love. It’s taken me nearly 20 years to make that connection. The subconscious mind is an amazing thing.

Now that I am trying to overcome that rejection, I am trying to look at red in a different light. I realise now that my negative feelings towards that colour are not simply a matter of taste. I suppose it’s no coincidence that so far nearly every one of my paintings has featured the colour red. My first painting, entitled “Release Me”, is primarily about depression and suicide, but could equally symbolise my desire to be released from the negative emotions about my art, and the artistic suicide that the Art College rejection prompted.

Now I have to work at building my confidence again, which seems to swing from one extreme to the other. More time has passed since that rejection than before it, so I feel unable to just pick up from where I left off; I feel like I am starting all over again. I never used to paint anyway, so that is a whole new experience for me, but I haven’t yet had the confidence to pick up a pencil or go back to oil pastels. I’m sure I will in time.

So you see my relationship with the colour red is a complicated one. I love red and I hate red; red is fun and playful, but it is also angry and destructive; it’s warm and sensual, and yet harsh and brash; it’s a bold, confident colour, and yet to me it symbolises rejection and failure.

I’ve completely painted over my abstract piece in Crimson now, but in day light the shapes underneath still show through in places. Where the paint is at it’s thickest the texture is lovely and I love just running my hands over it. I’m not happy about the shapes showing through though so I will cut out portions of the canvas and use them in future pieces. I may paint this piece again on a clean canvas though.

I know some people question whether abstract art is really art, and I have felt that way myself in the past. I see now that abstract art is simply an expression of inexplicable emotions. It draws you in and evokes feelings without you knowing how or why. Intellectually there is little to understand, by either the viewer or the artist. Its only meaning is how it makes you feel.


Rosa Murillo said...

Undaunted, welcome to found art tuesday! how exciting that you want to participate! this is open for anyone who is interested in doing it, so welcome! and please, don't worry too much if it's not perfect, this is part of being an artist in that we are always trying to make better pieces.
I usually leave a note or tag with the piece, describing what it is and that it is ok for the person who finds it to take it with them, I have found that sometimes people will thing it has been left there for someone else and should not be taken. You could also leave your blog's address so that whoever finds it can get in touch with you if they choose.
I am so escited you are joining us can't wait to see your piece, I love your paintings, best wishes.

Undaunted said...

Hi Rosa, thank you so much for your encouraging comments about my art!

I have already picked pieces off my found art piece and started again - and then I had more ideas so I will now have to start again!

My artist friend Anita will also be joining in, but as she doesn't have her own website yet she was going to put your website address on the back instead, if that's ok.

We're very excited about it and have already planned where we're going to leave our first pieces! I will post photo's soon. Thank you for your reply. :)