Friday, February 4, 2022

Friday Writings #12: Colour – or the Absence of Colour

Hello, dear wordsmiths!

How many of you, I wonder, are visual artists as well? We already know this about some, who kindly share the results with us, e.g. Gina's sketches, and dsnake1's, and MMT's photos. 

Speaking of the visual arts –

I wrote recently, at my blog, about my (this) book of paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe, with her own notes about creating them – which turn out to be part memoir. Several of you asked me to share what I get from those notes, so here are some of her personal discoveries about colour.

Describing her childhood, she says:

 The color of the dust was bright in the sunlight. It looked so soft I wanted to get down into it quickly. … It was the same feeling I have had when I’ve wanted to eat a fine pile of paint just squeezed out of the tube.

I loved the color in the brass and copper pots and pans, peppers, onions….

This is not surprising, coming from an artist renowned for her wondrous use of colour.  You can see many examples at this link.

Then, after a section on the various painting lessons and art schools she found her way into while growing up, she says:

It was in the fall of 1915 [the year she turned 28] that I first had the idea that what I had been taught was of little value to me except for the use of my materials as a language — charcoal, pastel, pen and ink, watercolor, pastel, and oil. I had become fluent with them when I was so young that they were simply another language that I handled easily. But what to say with them? I had been taught to work like others and after careful thinking I decided that I wasn’t going to spend my life doing what had already been done.

I hung on the wall the work I had been doing for several months. Then I sat down and looked at it. I could see how each painting or drawing has been done according to one teacher or another, and I said to myself, “I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me — shapes and ideas so near to me — so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down.” I decided to start anew — to strip away what I had been taught — to accept as true my own thinking. 

This period of ‘being alone and singularly free, working into my own, unknown’ she describes as ‘one of the best times of my life,’ and goes on:

I began with charcoal and paper and decided not to use any color until it was impossible to do what I wanted to in black and white. …

“Blue Lines” was first done with charcoal. Then there were probably five or six paintings of it with black watercolor before I got to this painting with blue watercolor that seemed right.

Fascinating stuff! (I love to discover people's artistic processes.)

If you would like to use a prompt this week, please write about colour – or the absence of colour.

Or you're welcome to ignore the prompt and share anything you like, old or new.   

Perhaps you'd like to take inspiration from one of O'Keeffe's paintings? (See link above.) In that case, please supply your own link to the painting concerned. We're not allowed to download them.

As always, you may choose poetry or prose. If it's prose, please keep to 369 words max (excluding title). Please link to one post only at your blog, then enjoy reading what others decide to share, and perhaps say hello to us in the comments below. You have until next Thursday. Enjoy!

Next Friday, Magaly will invite us to share poetry or prose which includes at least 3 of the following 13 words: bone, night, tell-tale, rhyme, tongue, storm, forest, moon, chaos, winter, echo, howl, dirt.


Post Script / Heads-up / Reminder: 
It's February. For some of us, that means NaHaiWriMo!
For those who want to write the shortest poetic form (haiku/senryu) every day during the shortest month, find the NaHaiWriMo group on facebook and take it from there.
I do it myself (nearly) every year. It's not too late to catch up, or just jump in where you are. (NaHaiWriMo is not in any way affiliated with P&SU – but no reason not to share the results with us too, if you decide to play.)



  1. My visual art has degraded from the horse and stick boy down to a goofy looking bust figure. I don't remember the horse but my mom had one I'd made in school. Some place I have it but don't know where in the house.

    1. Nice that your Mum kept it. I always had a story about myself that I couldn't draw, then one day visiting my Mum as an adult I came across a sketch of leaves I'd done in primary school, which she kept – and discovered it wasn't bad at all.

  2. Thank you for including Ms. O’Keeffe’s observations on color. Fascinating!

    1. I'm glad you think so too, Helen. And I love that, having learned her craft, she decided to take the art in her own direction.

  3. You can see samples of, and links to my visual art, down the left margin of my Image & Verse site.

    1. Oh, thank you! I'll be very interested to have a look.

  4. I love the book cover and the quote. You know, I've never read anything by Georgia O'Keeffe. I've been delighting in her visual art for quite some time, but never her words. I really like that her words sound like her visual art looks.

    1. Well, 'could write,' I suppose I should say.

      But no doubt the visual art was much more important to her.

  5. A little late but well....I guess this one can be construed as a lack of color along with other things.

    1. I'm glad to have read it! It's always worth coming back to check for those who may be 'a little late'.

    2. Thanks Rosemary and thanks for coming back.

  6. Happy to post in this.Thank you,Rosemary.


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