Primary Colors and Prime Ministers

“I cannot pretend to be impartial about the colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.” – Winston Churchill

I don’t actually remember learning the color wheel. I am sure that at some point in my elementary years Miss Wetlaufer (a fantastic name for an art teacher) explained the color wheel, but I don’t remember when. The primary triad, secondary triad, tertiary colors, and all those perfect complimentary duos have been ingrained in me as long as I can remember.  Where does the color wheel even come from?  It is something in which I trust, in which I believe, and so in my heart I really feel that it wasn’t so much invented as discovered, emerging from the nature’s palette. And it works, this color wheel.  We are instinctively drawn to the combinations it dictates. Red and green go together not just because of Christmas, but because they spend eternity pining for each other across the color wheel.

And no colors harmonize like the primary colors, those parents of all color.  I know that they conjure images of juvenile building blocks and Mondrian paintings, but to me they are that bold trio that cannot be ignored.  I notice them everywhere and never cease to delight when I find them.Winston Churchill, other than being an important statesman, was an artist. Maybe at the end of the day he needed to shed the world’s troubles and exchange it for the artist’s happily assumed burden, that of working with colors that are “lovely to look at and delicious to squeeze out.”  In his writings on painting, he repeatedly comes back to the fun of it all, the joy of color, and the comfort of being rendered speechless by a world that is too beautiful to be captured. How could a man who had seen so much of humanity’s ugliness still feel that way?

“The painter wanders and loiters contentedly from place to place, always on the lookout for some brilliant butterfly of a picture which can be caught and carried safely home,” Churchill wrote.  Maybe art doesn’t always have to be a result of training. Maybe sometimes it is about opening our eyes as we wander around. At one end of the spectrum exists white, at the other, black. But in between, all is color.

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6 Responses to Primary Colors and Prime Ministers

  1. bkjergaard says:

    Ooh…this week the kids ate the secondary triad. They had macaroni and cheese, broccoli, and a plum. I looked at it and thought of you immediately. And then they swooped in and took them before I could get a picture…

  2. I love, love, love these pictures. And I love that you quoted Winston Churchill in a post on colors.

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