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  • Overcoming Chromophobia

    Overcoming Chromophobia

    Main Entry:    chromophobia
    Part of Speech:    n
    Definition:    a fear of colors; also called chromatophobiapsychrophobia
    Etymology:    chromo- 'color'

    "What the hell is that?" Might be your first thought when looking at the painting above, but let me explain what I see. 

    Although I'm not in love with this piece (I wasn't even going to post a picture of it) like I have been with others, it did teach me a lot. What's presented here is, an inner struggle being played out in color. This 3'x4' piece and I battled the past couple of evenings. It started with a green background that didn't match what was in my head, then progressed into the colorful madness it stands at now. I fed it all the paints in the tray to see if I could convince the beast to cooperate, but it still triumphed. It ended in chaos, because it was created in chaos. 

    Each new abstract piece I've done recently, has slowly taken me out of my comfort zone. Even though I strived to incorporate more color into my portraits, they still felt safe in the end. The large portraits I did with acrylic and charcoal were intended to pull in more color and expressive marks, but the color was still lacking from what I wanted it to be. I orginally was intrigued to start painting because of color exploration, but once I got comfortable using a certain palette, everything else felt off and wrong. That spark that started me down the path had dimmed, and I wanted it back.

    I decided to abandon form and let the paints fly as they may. Letting them collide with full force into once another and hoping for the best. I know this can end disastrously, but my return to abstract works showed that this idea could work. Then the green monster showed it's face. 

    The day after I painted this panel green, Andrew Salgado (amazingly talented artst) posted a paper by David Batchelor titled Chromophobia: Ancient and Modern, and a Few Notable Exceptions. It explores the fear of color use throughout art history. I won't go into all the details here, I'll let you read it yourself, but it brought to light how I've been feeling recently.

    I didn't like the green because it wasn't 'me' I thought, but in actuality, I was scared of this new bright color I had never created. Once I got past that, I was ready for round two and I mixed up more non-me colors to go with it. That's when I really lost control, I had no idea how to control these newfound hues, tones, tints, and shades. Yet, with all this going on, I wanted to push forward, I wanted to try and control the beast I had awoken. I swung with all my might with my brushes and knives, but in the end, I still couldn't get what I was seeking.

    When I was finally out of paint, I stepped back and looked at what I had created. A mess to most, but a new and amazing color spectrum I had never created before, to me. Even if I didn't love the end results, I found comfort in the fact that I embraced this unfamiliar path.

    I've learned a lot in the year or so that I've been painting, but this week's discovery really brought me back to why I started. I wanted to explore the color spectrum and how it evokes the emotions that it does. Not to always mute it and bend it to the will of the line, but to let it go wild or be as calm as it wants.

    Even if you create something that you would consider trash, take a step back and take away the small things you learned from it. It'll make those paintings you deem worthy a lot more special.