“Of all God’s gifts to the sight of man, color is the holiest, the most divine, the most solemn.” John Ruskin
To my memory, I grew up in a pretty colorful environment. In the 1950’s, our house was turquoise, and our car was fushia. In our living room – bright lime green chairs and flamingo pink curtains. In the kitchen, colorful Fiestaware dishes. But the experience of color that lit the fire of an artist in me, was watching my mother paint a trio of circus themed paint-by-numbers for my soon-to-be baby brother’s nursery. I watched at her elbow daily as the paintings took shape, mesmerized by the tiny color- filled paint pots, the smell of turpentine, and the magic as she placed one color next to the other until forms took shape as a giraffe, an elephant, a circus pony. It was nothing short of magic to eye of a six year old. I watched till the very last brush stroke was placed ever so perfectly on the end of the giraffe’s tongue – a tiny dot of shiny white. My mother was a genius! I wanted to do that someday too, and as time passed, I did that and much more.
Fast forward to me an artist in 1972, a new mom, setting up my soon-to-be son’s nursery, hanging that sweet and colorful memory on his wall. I still own that treasured set of paint-by-numbers, and they have photographs taped to back of them. One of my mother proudly propping up her new son in his blue polka dot diapers with the circus paintings on the wall behind them and another, me with my new baby boy, and the same set hanging behind us.
Now, it’s 2013 and that set of paint-by-numbers hang in my Texas studio as a constant reminder of how color can in fact, be the greatest gift to the sight of man, and a nod to my mother, for raising me in such a colorful, joyful environment.
There is a Hindu festival called Holi, during which crowds of celebrants hurl colored powders at each other in commemoration of Krishna’s pranks. It’s a frenzied scene of crowds with whirls of color and the faces of people covered in hot pink, yellow, and orange. So as solemn and holy as John Ruskin’s comment on God’s gift of color is, I prefer the Holi celebration where worship is a loud and joyful festival of color. But he is most certainly correct on the divine part.
May you live in a world of joyful color.