start with yellow

Start with yellow.

That was Kaji Aso’s instruction, day one of water color class at the Museum School in Boston, years ago. Kaji, or Master Aso, as he preferred to be called, was from Japan. And he knew that: in the daytime, all we see was infused with the sun. Yellow. I was painting a pear, sitting in the window, lit by sun. All I could use was the color yellow.

When I met his requirements (less yellow, more yellow, creating dimension and size and shadow): when he could see the shape clearly, then, only then, could I add other colors. Sure enough: my pear looked warm and delicious.

The warmth of the sun shows in all it touches.

Outside of class, I remember experiencing my first traditional Japanese tea ceremony thanks to Kaji Aso: sitting down crosslegged, the formal mixing of the tea, the careful progression step-by-step, and then… the tea itself. Infused : YES. We think that recreational drugs are potent. Try tea ceremony tea. You’ll be FLYING! It’s infused with … what???

After that tea, the world was OKAY. I could see more clearly, hear better. Walk easier. Paint til midnight.

It wasn’t a POW blast of energy. Smooth and uplifting was how it felt. I understood yellows.

And later on in my art: I would explore the expansive blues. Soft greens. Subtle grey. After I was no longer painting water colors. Or oils. When I’d moved on to silks. Painting on silk.

Currently all my work is on silk. I play with words or images. Or: just color.

I now know that color on its own is not just about dimension. It can move and sing and play.

For fun let’s look at this section of a piece. RED. Emphatic red. “Am I red enough?” Moving in and out of deep to lighter to borderline – yes there’s red in every roll of silk. Dancing.

For this, I start with red.

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