Saturday, October 23, 2010

Off To The Island

There are misfits everywhere.  You know, people who look like they should be doing anything else other than what they are doing.  And I'm not just talking about politicians.  I'm thinking about guys like Mugsy Bogues, a five-foot three inch NBA player in the 1990's.  Or Jim Abbott, who was a Major League Baseball pitcher, yet only had one hand.  Jim kept his fielding glove under his armpit, and put it on his pitching hand as soon as he released the ball.  Me?  I am a color-blind painter.

When people with perfect color vision think of us color-blind folk, they almost always think we see in black and white.  They love to play little games with us.  "Oh, you're color-blind huh?  What color shirt am I wearing?"  (By the way, would you ask any one else with some form of a handicap to prove it?  "Oh, you're blind huh?  How many fingers am I holding up?")  I actually can see color.  It's just not the color you see.  Take the color you see, and remove the red from it and you'll get my version.  Throughout my life I have learned to cope with that.

My earliest memory of my color definciency was in Kindergarten.  I recall we had to color a drawing of apples.  Other kids looked at their array of Crayolas and chose an appopriate shade of red.  Apparently, I grabbed some ugly-ass brown and went at it.  I'll never forget the look of mortification that appeared on Mrs. Palmer's face.  For the green leaves, I may have chosen some off-shade of blue.  In short, it looked like I was trying Post-Modern Expressionism.  After that, I figured out that the drawings had the color name printed on them, and all I had to do was match the word on the crayon to the word on the drawing.  So, at least it taught me to read!  Other adaptations to color have been a little trickier.  I still have a hard time driving through a city at night and figuring out the red stop lights.  (I do know red is on the top, green is on the bottom, and like everyone else, yellow doesn't exist.)  Out in the country-side, at least a blinking red light has a STOP sign on the corner.

But how does this affect my painting, you ask?  Well, for one thing, the tubes have their names on them.  But once I squeeze out the color, all bets are off.  I remember painting an ocean scene where I thought I had nailed that deep, muddy green of a turbulent sea.  A friend walked up and asked me why I painted it brown...  So I try put the colors in the same place on my palette every time.   But my real trick is why I try to be a realist painter.  You see, if I can manage to paint the color exactly as I see it, then I'll not only see my color, you'll see yours too.  Invariably, whenever I have a hard time getting a color right, all I do is add red, and presto!  There it is.  Or, I just do winter scenes...

So you see, even mis-fits like myself can overcome and go on to do whatever they want to in life.  Just like the greatest mis-fit of all.  Remember, Hermie the Elf wanted to be a dentist!

1 comment:

Susan Roux said...

So interesting... I did wonder later when you told me you were color blind, how you went about painting. Obviously you'd figured something out. Luckily for you Maine is mostly blue and green. Except for fall of course. But we all know that never lasts.

I just caught up on all your other blogs. Its always a fun visit!