Hi from Ben's Office

Hi, everyone. I'm in Ben's office waiting for him to finish work, so no pics or any inspiring thoughts from me tonight; just blah-blahing.

I went to a floor talk at an installation art; installation is one of the art forms I have great problems with, so it was nice to hear Anna-Marie tell us why artists started these. It still feels gimmicky to me, but perhaps I won't be so judgmental in the future. (Nah, not likely.)

After that, I bought acrylic paint retardant and gesso, so I can continue the Schiele color study. And then I braved the Polytech library looking for Schiele books, and I found two. I didn't find the Artist's Wife, Seated in one, so I had to go through a second, thicker book, page by page, and I tell you, I am all porned-out. Not a nice collection of paintings to go through, especially in a public place, until the last one or two years of his life. (Even then, he couldn't stop himself; he even painted the Mrs in, you know, poses...) The images of the paintings in the Phaidon I used on Saturday were big and vivid, but in the small Taschen, and another one book, the paintings are much smaller and the colors less vivid. The red dress of the child look completely different, so I might have to go to the public library to see if they have the Phaidon. Or else I'll have to whitewash the board with gesso and start over. The colors in the two smaller books are very close, so perhaps they are truer, but the Phaidon shows the layers and brush strokes much better. Anyway, Schiele did some nice things with colors, but still absolutely not for family viewing.

In the evening I went to The Suter to listen to a lecture on colors by Julie Catchpole. (It's nice The Suter and Refinery Art Space coordinated to have lectures/forum and workshops on colors at the same time. Even though we are a small town, this type of coordination never used to happen. I'm thinking it was Ronette Pickering's stroke of genius.) It was a short, general overview of colors, cultural meanings, plants and minerals as pigment sources, and some stories on chemical reactions and pigment deteriorations; nicely done.

For example, I learned that in 8C AD Japan, documents on color theory mentioned four colors: white, black, red and blue, but these seem to signify qualities more than hues: light, dark, brilliant and clear. (Many colors in Japan to this day are named after plants; sometimes the same or very similar colors have different names depending on the season the colors [ergo, the plants] are supposed to appear. It's not that we didn't have other colors, but they didn't appear in the document on theory.) There is a good book on the subject at the public library, I discovered, so I'll go investigate some time.

I was surprised that blue ("ao") appeared in the 8C document. There is an old saying that goes: "Blue ("ao") came out of indigo ("ai") but is bluer than indigo." It means sometimes an apprentice or child grows up to surpass the master or parent, but I distinctly remember learning in Fourth Grade Japanese class that for a long time we didn't have blue pigments/dyes but only indigo, and when someone came up with the way to produce blue (most probably in textiles), everybody was in awe.

Ugh, something's gone wrong and Ben's nowhere near going home. I got the Met's book on Matisse and Textiles from the library, as an antidote to Schiele; I've been coveting this ever since it came out so I get it out of the library every 18 months or so. I'll go sit quietly and admire the pictures. Good night. See you tomorrow.


  1. I'm reading Victoria Finlay's book "Colour : travels through the paintbox". Have you read it? It's an enjoyable read and full of fascinating info on pigments and dyes. (Published by Sceptre.)

  2. Oh no, you caught me out. I bought the book the month it came out, and I've admired the cover, but I haven't read it just yet. I even forgot I had it and bought a second one a few years later... I also have the book on the color red... I am quick at spotting and buying, but slow at reading...


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