natural/unnatural color

I’m creating this piece of art that references nature. And therefore, the idea is that the viewer sees this as full of “natural color”.

In line with this concept of natural color, I was recalling a conversation I overheard in the car when I was a child. I was, along with (I believe) all 5 of my siblings driving 4 hours in the dawn hours to go skiing in – yes – West Virginia. There was a hill there. And my mother was from New England. We were darn well going to learn to ski. To accompany her, she had brought along Betty Smith, her friend. As we drove, we watched the sunrise cause the landscape in front of us to shift through these vivid hues, and Betty Smith commented, “If you painted the colors of these mountains as we see them, no one would believe they were real (i.e. natural colors)”. I was struck by that comment.

Years later, I fell in love with a painter of landscape. Wolf Kahn. I loved and love his work. I particularly love how true they feel. It turns out that his process involved – and may still involve – starting a painting outdoors in the landscape of, say, Vermont. And then taking it to his studio in NYC to finish it. The finished painting is NOT what he was seeing at the time. He is daring in his use of color. And yet they speak to me as true, as natural.

Since then, I have asked myself, what color is NOT in nature? And, even in mid winter, when there is minimal color outdoors, my geranium is really popping.