Colour My World Black

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“Think of what starlight 
And lamplight would lack 
Diamonds and fireflies 
If they couldn’t lean against Black. . . .” 
 Mary O’Neill, Hailstones and Halibut Bones


While sitting at a show, exhibiting my work, I was doing a bit of reading. Currently busy with a book written by Victoria Finlay, named Colour Travels through the Paintbox. It explores the origin of colour through the ages.

The show I am exhibiting at had reached that time of day where the visitors are merely pushing past to buy food and take a mid-afternoon nap. Or so it feels.


Here I am reading about colour. All about the colour black. A colour not seen as a colour. Its neutral. One of my favourite colours, to wear. Add a bit of white and I will paint it on my walls. Black represents my favourite medium, charcoal. I love the darkness of it. How a very dark area with a strategically placed highlight can create a shape, an image. How you can dream up landscapes with charcoal without doing much. How you create suggestions to your viewer without telling them the entire story. They complete the picture, as an artist I need them to gaze upon my art and complete many different individual stories.


What I found most interesting in this book was the information on cave paintings.  Prehistoric art has never been my art theory of choice. But this was quite interesting. It was about how these drawings last for thousands of years. Outliving all kinds of natural disasters. Until we (humans) ‘discover’ them. Victoria Finlay writes in her book Colour, ‘but as soon as people find them and pay them any kind of attention the drawings start to fade, almost as if too much looking wears them out’

How beautiful and sad all at the same time. To be admired for their magnificent beauty they will not be able to withstand the test of time.


In this interesting book by Finlay, she also mused about Red. How Tuner used red in his art, which he was very aware would fade. But in the moment, he applied it. It was perfect. He did not care for the publics views. Or so I have summed it up.

I once read a beautiful piece in a book about the artist Joseph Cornell, referring to a poem by Mallarmé. Joseph Cornel was a Surrealist artist, and he made these beautiful and enchanting shadowboxes. Captivating pieces of art. And in the book the writer explains that in the poem there is a rower on a boat. He is aware that he is in the region of the girl he loves, but he keeps his head down not looking up to be disappointed, but rather live with the anticipation that she is there. And that Cornell captures the memory of the moment, like the rower decided to keep the memory of the moment and not destroy it with reality by looking up.


Should we as artists  not crave the attention our art pieces create/generate, and rather keep them separate from society, let human exposure not take away from their beauty and meaning.

Will they fade? Will they disappear in time? Will the exposure decrease their value and meaning?

As an artist trying to survive in 2017, it is not possible, or is it? I would love to capture the memory of the moment in my work. And not let modern social media decrease its value.


“How many times have your true colours faded just because the world was colour blind.” 
 Jenim Dibie, The Calligraphy of God


Just some general thoughts and ramblings of a bored artist.

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