Today’s watercolor experiment:

I used yesterday’s experiment as a jumping off point to begin today’s composition. I have always been intrigued by the idea of a timeline. Until I realized that time is one of the variables present in a contact sheet, I hadn’t quite pictured a timeline as a back-facing ‘S’.

Today’s study began as an abstraction of a time line. I used the backward ‘S’ as my time line graphic, but spent quite a bit of time thinking about colors that represent the past. The stereotypical colors used to represent the past are sepia – the color of faded photographs, and yellow – the color of faded everything else.  My internet search for ‘color of time’ did not yield anything useful. I knew that some artists had theories of colors. For example, Kandinsky (a synesthete) paired colors with musical tones. His book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art pondered the affect that colors and combinations of colors have ‘on the vibrations of the soul’.

I don’t know if there is a universal correspondence between colors and combinations of colors and emotional response aside from the basic saying “red is warm, blue is cool”. Not everyone has colors paired with the same experience, which, I would expect lead to different associations with particular colors.

I glazed the upper left leg of my backward ‘S’ with lemon yellow and did not glaze the bottom right portion. In this abstract I am pursuing another avenue of understanding of my autistic brother Michael as I did in my Brother Mike project, I installed two spots, one red, the other brown to represent Mike’s face. Across the divide, was my eye.  I used water spray to cause a drip to flow from the red eye to mine and sprayed my eye to cause other drips.

I divided the ‘S’ curve with a palette-knife slash of blue and white oil paint; another smear of green on the upper right of the paper approaches the divide.

Finally, I applied a purple mixture around the yellow wash, to bring it forward in space, and a red/yellow mixture below the blue streak, to define its edge and the edge of orbit of the eye at the lower right.

Watercolor and Oil Color: Abstract Time and Space Divide

9″x12″ Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


Unlike yesterday’s study, where I had everything figured out beforehand, I had no idea what was in store today, aside from beginning with seed of the earth-toned time line.  I used a combination of visual cues (i.e., of what does this part of the ‘S’ remind me?) and suppositions (i.e., what would be a good color with which to break the time line?).  I tried to keep to my original narrative as an organizing principle: portraying a gap that could be a separation of time or a spatial separation or a barrier to communication. I left a possibility that the gap could be breached.

I wish I did have an organized way to pair colors and combinations of colors with emotions or ‘vibrations of the soul’.


5 thoughts on “Divide

  1. Interesting. Rudolf Steiner had theories about colour which are still applied to Steiner schools. Pink is always used in Class One, for example, for the children who first arrive from home whereas Purple, the colour of the intellect, is used in the final Class when the pupils are working towards public examination. I can’t remember the ones in between but I feel certain there are distinct colour stages in Steiner philosophy…


    • I looked up Steiner and his philosophy engaged the question of a connection between science and spirituality (just a slight shift from Kandinsky). Thank you for the reference. I will be reading more carefully about Steiner (I know you have mentioned him in the past). Thanks Liz.


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