The Magic of Color

I found I could say things with colors and shapes that I could not say any other way.Georgia O’Keefe

The world is filled with intense reflections of glorious color. Our incredible daystar bathes our planet in warm, golden light from across the cold void of space summoning life from the darkness. My first memory is of color. I was in my crib (about 3-5 months old). There was a mobile above me with three birds – red, yellow and blue. The primary colors captivated my attention. I could sense someone near me in the shadows through the bars. I described the colors to my mom, and told her where the crib was located – she was shocked. Color has always been magical to me.

With color one obtains an energy that seems like witchcraft. – Henri Matisse In kindergarten I was introduced to the wonder of tempera paint. The impact of the vibrant colors was so much more powerful than with crayons. Perhaps it was also because they were a colorful liquid medium. That day my teacher had sat a fresh page of newsprint in front of me. I was sniffing the woody paper when she placed a rainbow of little jars on the table. My mind caught fire at the possibilities as I dragged brush across the page and marveled at how the liquid changed the texture of the paper. And the fragrance of those paints was like perfume to me. When I painted a blue next to yellow and a green stripe appeared – I was mesmerized.

During the Christmas holiday when I was in second grade I had a painting put on display at a local jewelry shop as part of the local school district’s art programs. I was “supposed” to draw a horse, but the colors ran together and so I made a four-legged creature with tennis shoes – Dr. Seuss-like, and the sky was greenish – from the mingling of yellow-sun/sky-blue. Looking at my painting behind my reflection in that jewelry store window left an indelible impression on me. The brightness of the lights and gems saturated my spirit with a contentment similar to my earliest memory – wordless, complete bliss. The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts. Marcus Aurelius

In high school, I won the art award my senior year and my painting was added to the school’s permanent collection. I had been allowed to take extra semesters of independent study in art. I was obsessed with acrylic paints by then. The lustrous colors and chemical scent were practically an aphrodisiac. A blank canvas held endless possibilities. My art teacher likened my use of intense color in some of my works to Van Gogh. The painting that won me the award was of Buzz Aldrin saluting the flag on the moon. The deep blackness of space occupied the top third of the painting. The powdery gray of the mid-ground was broken up by scattered footprints. In the foreground the intense white front of Aldrin’s suit, and golden visor balanced the grand red white and blue. Painting the intense blue of the flag’s field brought me into the scene. I have been devoted to color ever since. There is no blue without yellow and without orange. – Vincent Van Gogh. Go out and fill your world with color.

Published by cewheeler

Writer/Artist:12 years in China – univ. lecturer: writing,poetry,culture; editor – magazine/newspaper & actor. 40 years students of the Tao. Traveler. Father. Read my books at:

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