Spreading the Joy of Color

“Sunny Southwest”, 24 x 37″, oil on canvas, Karen Gillis Taylor

“Color is the fruit of life.” -Guillaume Apollinaire

So said French writer and art critic Apollinaire of the early 1900s. Painting in France was experiencing an infusion of color, after earlier painters like Corot had used a subdued palette. The ballet dancers of Degas introduced lovely hues of aqua and orange. Renoir and Mary Cassatt were not shy in using more intense color in their paintings and so the flow of the “fruit of life” moved from a small stream to a full blown river throughout the 20th century until today.

rosy-glen-final-crop

“Rosy Glen”, oil on canvas, detail, Karen Gillis Taylor

There is a term, “joie de vivre” which means exuberant enjoyment of life. This is how I paint with color. Painter Marc Chagall connected color with emotions like love and musical vibration. Delacroix said “Everyone knows that yellow, orange, and red suggest ideas of joy and plenty.”

Yet, in order to see how colors “sing”, we painters must introduce elements of a darker, even moodier side. So we mix in grays, browns and other neutral hues, even white and black to create an overall balance. We don’t want to make a painting that screams “circus” or advertising bill boards. Nature is our teacher.

So when you respond to a painting that expresses a sense of joy in you, look closely. In order for joy to stand out in our lives, we can see another side of emotion. There is a contrast to be found. Happiness springs out of some sadder times. It’s all part of the wholeness of being a human. When I paint, I love to infuse life with joy, and color is my chosen instrument!

For more paintings, please visit http://www.karengillistaylor.net

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