Wednesday, December 24, 2008

How Would You Tell the Tale?

Adoration of the Magi
by John Duncan

Journey of the Magi

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

– T. S. Eliot

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Color Is the Coming Year?

"Stormy Sea" by Sharon Hart

Last year prior to joining the glitzeratti at the vernissage at Art Basel Miami, I delivered a painting to an art patron in Miami. Much to her delight it was a monochromatic painting in the identical color that the Pantone Color Institute, had just announced was the “color of the year.” I knew the color as French Ultramarine Blue, whereas Pantone elected to term it “ Blue Iris,” or No. 18-3943. Coincidentally throughout the year I painted several mono-chromatic paintings in the color of which Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute said: “Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspects of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast. Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic.”

December first seems to be open season for magazines, newscasts, and even blogs to present “The Annual Best of ... ” or predictions for the year to come. I , therefore, was reminded that every year the Pantone Color Institute chooses a "color of the year", essentially as a media –grabbing exercise. Considering the state of the economy, I pondered what color Pantone would seize upon as “The” Color for 2009. Review of past trends gave me some clues to their thinking process. Here is their previous panel of choices:

Cerulean Blue: Chosen for the millennium for its calming zen state of mind.


Fuchsia Rose: A reversal from the previous year, more exciting, more feminine and sexy.


True Red: Recognizes the impact of 9/11 with a patriotic hue.


Aqua Sky: A cool blue meant to restore hope and serenity.


Tiger Lily: Acknowledges the hipness of orange, with a touch of exoticism

Blue Turquoise: Another reversal to a calming shade.

Sand Dollar: A neutral color that expresses concern about the economy

Chili Pepper: Chosen for its pizazz and sophistication and its hint of ethnic taste.

Blue Iris: A mix of blue and purple that suggests dependability and magic

Pantone is considered by some in the decorating community to be a “Color Authority”. There is a video entitled “Color Watch 2009” that addresses how Pantone’s Executive Director chooses palettes and identifies future color trends, stating that they draw their inspiration from artists, museums, and the economy.

Prior to the Pantone’s announcement, I playfully discussed the topic with a couple of friends, as it provided some light relief to other more pressing issues such as the global economic condition. Someone suggested that green would be a logical choice, considering the focus on organic foods, the environment, and money. Another individual opted for bamboo, as the Chinese influence on the west is becoming an increasingly dominating consideration, both on products, as well as in banking. I, however, suggested that considering the economy, people will opt for comfort foods such as Kraft macaroni and cheese ---a peculiar shade of yellow-orange and that with the focus on optimism that was reflected in our recent elections, yellow-orange would be the most logical color for 2009.

Much to my surprise, today I discovered that Pantone announced that 14-0848 Mimosa, yellow as the color of the year for 2009. Their rational from the press release follows forthwith:

“In a time of economic uncertainty and political change, optimism is paramount and no other color expresses hope and reassurances more than yellow.

“The color yellow exemplifies the warmth and nurturing quality of the sun, properties we as humans are naturally drawn to for reassurance,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Mimosa also speaks to enlightenment, as it is a hue that sparks imagination and innovation.”

Artists have long used color to direct the mood of the viewer, in addition to being used because of cultural symbolism. A good example of this can be found in the colors traditionally selected by icon writers. Here is a brief synopsis of the meanings ascribed to the colors often used in Christian religious icons:

* Gold symbolizes divine light.

* Blues are associated with heaven, mystery and the mystical life

* Red is linked with heat, passion, love, beauty, life ,

* Orange-red, associated with fire, suggests fervor and spiritual purification.

* Purple & crimson is associated with royalty and the divine. It is the symbol of supreme power.

* White is associated with the divine world, purity, innocence, and is sometimes used with what Orthodoxy calls "the uncreated light,"

* Green represents the earth's vegetation, fertility, youth, hope and freshness, and martyrdom

• Brown is affiliated with poverty, humility, bare earth, dust, inert matter and all that is transient and perishable.,

It will be interesting to explore how artists will use color in 2009. Although “experts” such as Eisenman may suggest that we respond to tides such as economic conditions to determine our palette choices, I would suggest our choices are not that volatile. I would also suggest that artists are not that vulnerable and suggestive to marketing influences, but are more apt to be the fulcrum by which consumer choices are directed.