Kiki de Montparnasse in a Red Jumper and a Blue Scarf, by Moise Kisling, 1925
It’s one of the first colours we learn to identify as children. Our eye is drawn to the red smear in a visual composition. It’s the symbol of blood and of love, anger and the universal color of stop signs around the world. Associated with the Red Cross, the red sun on the Japanese flag (it’s actually the most popular colour used in flags with 77% of all flags including it somewhere…), red is also the least common hair colour in the human population (only 1-2% of the world’s population can lay claim to red hair).
Moise Kisling obviously liked both Kiki and the colour red… (this portrait is called Kiki de Montparnasse in a Red Dress)
Red is one of the primary colours – the others being yellow and blue. In theory, if one mixes two primary colours you get secondary colours (green, orange and purple) and then, if you mix primary and secondary colours you wind up with tertiary colours. If you know what you are doing and have a bit of black and white you should be able to mix any colour you can imagine.
As a kid, I was totally intrigued by the magical paint-mixing that went on while Dad was working. Even now when I visit his studio this process seems like a strange kind of alchemy, capturing light and form, shape and shadow by smearing colour on a flat surface…
By contrast, Piet Mondrian seems to have gone to great lengths to keep his colours clean and separate. This is Composition C (No. III) With Red Yellow and Blue, 1935
Also keeping it simple (colour-wise) is Roy Lichtenstein and this pop art portrait.
Head – red and yellow (1962)
This pensive child caught the eye of Mary Cassatt. Little Girl in a Red Beret dates from 1898.
Would you call the child’s smock pink? Salmon? When you think about it, there are many, many words describing ‘red.’ Ruby. Carmine. Fire engine. Crimson. Rusty. And, plenty more… What’s your favourite shade of red? In case you are wondering, today’s artwork effort on my part was completely the wrong palette (greens and blues) so I won’t post here and spoil the word of the day…
I went for a long walk this evening and took a ton of photographs. Scrolling through them there was a shocking dearth of red anywhere to be found. Except, in this photo which I snapped of a hula hoop hanging from a tree at the side of the trail. Who knows why a hoop should dangle just there… is it possible to drop your hula hoop and not notice? I thought the diminutive splashes of red were a lovely contrast to the more muted palette of the mountains before spring has fully sprung…
For as long as I can remember, I have loved to watch my father draw. It has always seemed to be somewhat miraculous the way images somehow seep out of the tip of his pencil (or flow from the brushes) and onto the page (or canvas). Because Dad will be recording his impressions of the Camino trip visually, we have been talking a lot recently about the artistic process and how he will capture his experience of the trip through his art.
We’ve decided to make a series of videos about Dad and his work – where he gets his ideas, how he ‘trains’ for a new project (more about that in a future post), and then how he gets what’s in his head onto the page. This first, short video (about two minutes long) shows him drawing a tree. Simple. But we wanted to set up the camera and do a test before we launch into anything more complicated. I have watched it several times now and still find it just as fascinating to see a tree appear from nothing as I did when I watched, captivated as he drew or painted something marvelous when I was a little girl.
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