January 28, 2008

Raw Umber...


There are no fads in art making, right? There are no styles that come and go... art is not regulated by such commonalities, right? There are no fashion favorite colors, no medium preferences, no 'to die for' images the buyers clamor for, right? Art, especially the creating of it, is above all that... right? Right???

So... totally uninfluenced by all of the above, I decided one day (coupla years ago) that I was over my dependence on raw umber. It was a hangover from years of representing the timelessness I knew in New Orleans... best explained in this excerpt from my statement: "Perhaps cues are taken from familiar surroundings, and perhaps the steamy southern summers, rich patinas of aged surfaces and..." There's nothing like a raw umber wash to express an aged, patinaed surface! Talk about breaking a bad habit, this was a crushing reality I faced. During gallery visits (real life and virtual) I began seeing more and more bright, almost cartoonish colors... white whites, creamy creams, mints and cherrys and sky blues... oh how dingy my work began to look to me. It was that nasty raw umber! I had to rid my palette of it! I can't say it's been a complete success but I am now much less dependent on the color... I no longer buy it by the bucket load, it sneaks into a wash now and then but, for the most part, it's under control. When an older painting completes the circle of available wall space and returns home like a prodigal offspring, I want to wash the dirty smudge away... and sometimes I do.

Now... my long time friends are thinking... what about all that red...???

Never mind...


7 comments:

CMC said...

he he heh..know what you mean about worrying about being dependant on some colors. Got a big red one (diptych) up right now that I'm thinking I should just go paint over ....

Olga said...

And yet, the moment I clicked onto your blog just now and saw the painting at the top I sighed and leaned forward with joy. That show is just so beautiful too.

But I know what you mean. When I brought out the latest piece I'm working on now everyone who sees it says that the colours are so unlike me. We have to say how we have to say it, I guess.

KJ said...

Cheryl, you use red very well... not a problem!

Thank you, Olga... that was a premier show for me... a beautiful setting and work that had finally matured. But has hard as we try, we can't help being influenced by what is perceived as 'new and better,' thereby labeling us as yesterday's news. Gotta flow...

CMC said...

well, I've even been using some of that raw umber the past year or so occasionally...and never used to use it. I can see that it does come in handy at times.

Daphne said...

Why give up what works for you? I love your work when you use raw umber. I feel warm and love the elegance of those paintings. I won't deny that the occasional painting by other artist with a lot of white space appeals to me but I don't feel like I'm "coming home" in the same way...It may be silly but the brighter colours don't excude the same depth for me especially when there is a lot of clean white space.

KJ said...

It's not a matter of giving up anything, but finding better ways to attain that sense of depth and richness. Umber, like black, is richer when mixed from other hues. But thanks, Daphne, for appreciating the 'look'...

Kim said...

Hi Karen! Of course I had to smile to myself when I read your post! My color? Any value and most chromas of purple. I recently gave myself a challenge to not use any purple and it had a major effect on my entire life! It was a HUGE challenge, so I understand what you mean.

I so love this work, so keep doing what works for you. And sometimes that means changing or giving something else a try!

I will be back to see what all you are doing here.