One of the most common and least interesting questions one is routinely asked is, “What’s your favorite color”. “Who gives a shit?” would for much of my life have been an appropriate enough answer. That’s before I became obsessed, and there was no question.
Up until a very specific point, my favorite color was red. Or we might say that as a painter, in my early 20’s, I really liked to use red in my paintings. The most coveted tube of paint [can you guess?] was … … … cadmium red, which was also one of the most expensive. And if you asked me why, I might have said red was the color of blood. And I confess that I did like to paint blood [see below].
And, uh, just because I happen to have a close-up on hand, let’s go for a tiny diversion here:
And while we are on a detour, indulge me in also saying, “Holy Crap, that was 31 years ago!”
All that changed when I was 40, and I can trace it to a specific day, hour, minute, and instance. I was on a bike ride in Hội An, Vietnam, and my path took me along some rice fields. I was converted on the spot by the sea of green. I thought to take pictures, and did. I don’t think they really capture it, because instead of being enveloped in it, the green is merely a quadrant of a flat but luminous rectangle. The background is washed out, and I can’t say it’s the same shade of green, brightness, or saturation, but you can get the idea.
I see the color better if I dart my eyes around the picture than look at it directly.
It’s been green ever since. And I don’t just mean my favorite color. It’s kinda’ weird. And to demonstrate this weirdness, which apparently runs in the family, allow me to introduce my uncle Bob (R.I.P.]:
In the pic above, when you are done noticing his beard — and that he looks like Tom Hanks playing Chuck Noland in Castaway, if he hadn’t been rescued — you might catch on to the fact that he blends into the background.
This guy was a real character, and something quite like Chuck Noland if he hadn’t been rescued for an additional decade or two. I might mention that he buried his money in the ground, in a coffee jar. My sister tells the story where he gave her some money, she brought it to the bank, and the teller was surprised by how uniformly soft it was, almost damp. When a couple small nuggets of a certain psychoactive plant tumbled onto the counter, he asked, “Are these for me?” My uncle liked to wear only shorts [weather permitting] and carry a knife around his waste like Tarzan, who he definitely idealized. “We should go back to living in the trees!” was one of his common pronouncements. Me, being a bit more the hard-boiled realist, would point out that our ancestors didn’t live in the trees, but rather caves, hence caveman, “unless you mean going back to being monkeys proper.”
And we need to notice that it wasn’t just his shirt that was green, or that he’d painted the entirety of his trailer green. This also went for his pickup truck, and it included the hubcaps, handles, rear-view mirrors, etc. He was all about going back to nature.
And so one might be tempted to file away his choosing to immerse himself in green, along with the buried money, the perpetual Tarzan cosplay, and a laundry list of other quirks, under the peculiar traits of “that one ‘eccentric’ uncle”. Except that I, being somewhat more presentable as Chuck Noland before he was marooned on a desert Island, only really found fault with his choice of green, which was too dull for my palate, and palette. Though I did admire the bright orange paint spill that was never cleaned up because it looked cool. Barnett Newman, or Mark Rothko would have rested their eyes on that combo for more than a few seconds. Note that I only discovered his addiction to green after I’d converted on my own.
I don’t paint everything green, but my attraction to the color is a bit over-the-top. When I go shopping with my wife I will find green clothes for her. “Check out that shrug.” And it’s just a green shrug. I have green shirts and shorts. They are a bit more sage. There’s a green pen on my desk. There’s a green folder on my dresser. When I go to the Japanese restaurant, Fuji, I like to sit facing the wall-sized photo they have of a bamboo forest, because it’s green. I will fantasize about having that in my home.
But the worst example, where this just becomes ludicrous, is that of all the newish cars I see where I live in SE Asia, the only one I fantasize about having is a Nissan March. Why? It comes in green.
I don’t know anything about the car. I don’t even want a car. We have Grab. And buying a car because of the color is a level of sheer stupidity I wouldn’t think myself capable of. And yet, even now, looking at the picture above, it’s like looking at an icre-cream behind the glass counter on a hot day. I want THAT.
“I’m sorry, sir, but we’re fresh out of fresh green. We can offer you this blue model and a 20% discount.”
“No WAY!” I have zero attraction to the car above. Even the form is less appealing.
I just went for a bathroom break. You needed to know that. Noticed the shower curtain is green. The paper towels are in a green package. There’s a green bottle of spray cleaner. I insisted on getting place mats for the dinner table that are in the shape of green leaves. There’s a green Tibetan lantern.
I can’t get enough green!
My wife’s favorite color is also green. This is good in that she’s completely amenable to a bright green car, or house, but we’ll get possessive if there’s only one green toothbrush. “Why do you get the green one?”
Don’t worry. I can handle my addiction. I won’t buy a green car, at least until I’ve found out what other models I can get in green.
As an artist, there’s not much occasion to really use green, not if one doesn’t do landscapes. Aliens are only green in cartoons. That pinkish fetal grey is a much creepier color. My most green piece is, “Awakening Upon Death of the Bride of the Creature”:
And that does print out quite large at 30×48″ at 300 dpi. But that’s magazine cover resolution. Unless you are going to get right up close, you can print it out twice as large. Will need to put than on my wall one day.
I really should make more green artworks.
Do you have not merely a favorite color, but one you would make patently imbecilic decisions in favor of?
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