Colors and their Ambiguity and Contradictions

Words often fail to capture color. Their nuances, their ambiguity, fluidity all slip through the cracks of words.

Words seem to exist in an eternal state, a place of permanence. Even though their meanings change through time, within a generation or a single human’s life, that might be hard to notice or even impossible. But colors out here in the world, they flow, vibrate and change with the cycle of the sun, the seasons, and the lights we turn on and off in our houses and streets. The colors might repeat themselves in our lifetimes if only for a brief moment each time.

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Right now as I walk to the bus, there’s a play of the gold-light from the sun, that slowly rises, and the shadows in the snow. The shadows are drenched in a soft blue or purple. It’s a color with great presence, but also very subtle whispers. It almost emanates the cold I feel on my skin, but also comfort and embrace.

Soon these colors will melt as the day goes on and the sun changes its mood. Maybe around 4pm or 5pm there’ll be some similar colors again if the atmosphere doesn’t change and the clouds stay as they are. But will they be the same? Even their similarity will be different, emphasized by the different state I will find myself in, my chest carrying different humors and responses to the world.

Color is so powerful because of this fluidity and ambiguity. Color is able to contradict itself.

The deep red, purple and orange that may emerge from some sunsets. They’re beautiful, longing and contemplative. They ask of us, “Stop. Take a moment, right here, and see me.” But the colors can also feel ominous, heavy making us maybe even a bit scared — “Will the next day come for sure? Is life going to keep on going, or was this my last sunset?”

And the blue-purple of the snow, and the gold-light, right now they seem to dance and shift between cold and warm and warm and cold. The blue becomes warm for a second, comforting. Then it recedes back into the cold, pulling with it the gold. And then this golden air that so often feels like a soft embrace, becomes cold and apathetic, superior to my experiences and my need of warmth. This all happening in a fraction of a second — it’s like a coin flipping in the air, quickly shifting from one to the other.

In one single moment I feel it all because of color. This slippery characteristic of vision that eludes so many of us. No wonder so often people are most attracted to the color of a painting — even when it’s exactly because the painting lacks colors. Color breathes, flows and changes so quickly it creates in us a sense of continual rediscovery.

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A trip to New England

So. I’ve been trying to write a blog post about my Boston Interim trip. But I’ve been searching so much for the “best” way to write about it that I haven’t done much. I decided then to just actually go with the easiest way to do it. Basically, I’ll share the watercolors I did of the places we went and share a little of what they mean. These are not necessarily in chronological order as I took pictures of places and did the watercolors afterwards.

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In Concord, we visited Walden Pond where the very famous Thoreau built his cabin and lived there for about 2 years. The pond is almost more of a lake, although still considered a pond because of how it was formed. Good grief, I still want to call it a lake. It’s pretty big. In the image you can see the beautiful yellow that it was when we visited it. The lake itself was frozen and covered in about a foot of snow? Correct me if I’m wrong. Some of my classmates went on it. I was a chicken and didn’t. I stayed ashore, safe and sound and saw two of my other friends slip and fall. I might’ve laughed a little.

This watercolor is a landscape seen from the IMG_6134Northbridge. This bridge is where a lot of confusion happened and made some of the Englishmen die when they were coming in to get guns and ammunition out of American people’s hands. It was very confusing to me what exactly happened. But it was a beautiful view, and I couldn’t help but to try and represent it somehow.

IMG_6135This is a picture from inside the Old Manse. Highlights: Nathaniel Hawthorne lived here for a little, but the house belonged to Emerson; Sophia Hawthorne (Nathaniel’s wife) used to write on the glass windows and there’s some lovely poems on there. I loved the light coming in the room through the window and I wanted to capture that somehow. Not perfect but I’m happy with the results. I feel like the watercolor is doing is breathing it’s own life (and textures) into the image.

This one is back again at the Northbridge, but from a different position. We went thereIMG_6136 more than once and I just loved this huge tree at the top of this hill. As you may notice, it was a constant struggle of mine to represent snow. Snow is so hard. Sometimes I just wanted to draw a snowflake on the ground so people could go like “Oh, yeah. That be snow.” With this one though I still really like the way the lines turned out.

IMG_6137Ok. So this one was a hard one to execute. It’s a foggy view over the ocean bay out onto the other side of it in Salem. So the interesting thing about Salem is that it was where they had these crazy weird trials against witches. They were very bad trials and there’s a lot of history around them, and speculation about how they were used by some people to gain land and power. Crazy stuff. Anyways. After we toured a house in Salem, we had some freetime to explore. The view from the shore was beautiful—the houses in the distant land were semi-obscured by this fog. It all really matched the whole “witches” vibe. Also, many new age stores in town. You can go crazy with crystals and incense here if you want.

So this one is actually from the restroom that I used for most of interim in the inn that IMG_6138we stayed. I know, splendid to know where I did my necessities and cleaned myself. But, I just really liked again the light coming in and I got into this weird “paint windows” vibe there. This one the curtains are semi-closed which I appreciated.

IMG_6139Here we have me playing around with watercolor during a game of Mafia. One late-night a big part of the group decided to play mafia. During it I decided to explore watercolors a little, I ended up adding a kite, because why not?

I’ve omitted a couple of watercolors here that I don’t know what they represent, and they don’t look good.

This one is based off a picture a friend took of Cape Cod. This place was incredible. It’s IMG_6141just a beach, really, but it was beautiful. The way was overcast and after we walked on the beach we headed back home. It was a moment of reflection for me, where I tried to engage my senses and absorb as much as I could of the beauty God made. My cellphone ran out of battery so I used a friend’s picture to depict a more in-land part. Again, struggles with snow.

Wohooo! That’s most of the watercolors I worked on. I also made a couple off of friend’s pictures as Thank You cards for the professors, because they were great throughout the interim.

I think you enjoyed this walk-through my watercolors. As usual, most of these are available for purchase — you can just write me an email or reach me on Instagram or Facebook to inquire pricing.

Later on I’ll also share some pictures from my sketchbook and talk a little bit more about other parts of the trip.


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