Saturday, 23 May 2015

Blue and Green should never be seen, unless it is in a washing machine.

Red is slowly disappearing from Vincent Van Gogh's paintings. This is true, read about it here. Apparently, the synthetic red hue that Van Gogh favoured is slowly fading away.

I have been thinking about this for days.

Vincent Van Gogh was my first artist love (me and a million other people). He influenced me in so many ways. Those brush strokes. Such freedom of expression and outpouring of emotion! Taking his own personal tragedy or triumph and communicating these feelings with paint, the greatest lesson of all for me.

A pastel I created hundreds of years ago, inspired by Van Gogh, hangs in my living room in an Ikea frame that my children keep trying to kill but refuses to die.

One of my absolute favourite aspects of Van Gogh's art is the colour. So much blue, green.. yellow... not a lot of red. This has actually influenced me in my visual life immensely. I am always drawn to blue and green, followed by citrus hues, and often leave red out of my art and decor completely. It's not that I don't like red, I have some red clothes, a couple of pops of red around the house (very few- and they sometimes bother me- I am strange), and my kids adore Elmo. However, when given a choice, I always pick other colours over red. I have even been known to substitute orange for "things that should be red." I decorate for Christmas without using the colour red, which is an actual Christmas colour! This is serious colour avoidance.

Now, I am wondering if my entire colour preference is based on a lie. I am perhaps feeling a little dramatic today, but this information about Van Gogh's disappearing red really sent my mind spinning. Would I be a red obsessed girl if the paint pigment in Van Gogh's paintings had remained vibrant? Probably not. It is fun to muse about this. Soon I am on the thought path of, "what if we all see different colours but we were taught to call them the same name? For instance, I see green and call it yellow, you see blue and call it yellow. How would we ever know the difference?" So maybe my version of red is not as beautiful as your version of red. Or maybe I don't favour red because I am highly squeamish and feel faint at the thought of blood?

I just took a 5 minute break from writing because I felt faint.

We may never know the answers to any of these important questions. We do know that regardless of one's colour preferences, Vincent Van Gogh was a genius of paint. When my Aunt and Uncle were visiting Ottawa, we all went to Van Gogh: Up Close, at the National Gallery of Canada. It was amazing. Overwhelming. Over 40 of Van Gogh's gorgeous paintings were on display. I found myself drawn to his paintings of grass and wheat blowing in the wind. I could not stop looking. Such a simple subject made so beautiful. I could see the wind in the grass and everything was moving and alive.

                                              Wheat Field at Auvers with White House

My Aunt's favourite was this painting of a couple standing back in the trees, seemingly fading away. I found it sad and lonely, which is great because I think art should make you feel. Maybe they are literally fading away because of the red pigment??

Undergrowth with Two Figures (painting names are the best- so literal)

I often dress my children or myself in blue and green (together- a scandal). Husband likes to tell me that "blue and green should never be seen, unless it is in a washing machine." One of the many pieces of advice that I love to ignore. Ignoring advice is the best. Perhaps the colour that should really watch out is red!


  1. I also have a red avoidance, but I'm not sure where it came from.

  2. Glad I am not the only one. I started to really notice my aversion when I did some paintings on commission and felt weird using so much red paint (as requested by clients/family members).