With apologies to Jack Whyte (from whom I learned the song) and Flanders and Swann (who wrote the lyrics), I could think of no better title for today’s post.
There’s no getting around it. Colour affects me. I’m forever remarking on the multitude of greens in the early spring, or trying to describe the perfect tint of pink edging a garden bloom. It took literally months (ask my exasperated husband!) before I could settle on just the right shade of sage green to repaint our family room walls.
I haven’t had my oils out for a long time, but I well remember the times I dabbed and mixed colours trying for a hue that was exactly right – working and reworking the colours on my canvas until suddenly I’d gone too far and they were muddy. At that moment there was no way to reclaim the desired effect. The only remedy was to take a palette knife, scrape the canvas clean and begin again.
This morning as I struggled with revisions to a particular scene I muttered about its lack of colour. Characterization was okay but the setting felt artificial, two-dimensional. There’s no lack of information on this subject but knowing and doing are too often a chasm apart. I thought I knew what was needed.
I closed my eyes for a moment and visualized the scene. Then I let my fingers loose to bring descriptive life to it. I gave them free rein, and when they were done I sat back and read the accumulation of words.
Oh, my! Purple prose, with adjectives and adverbs galore! I went through the paragraphs stripping away the superfluous, but that just left bare bones that poked ugly elbows at me. Like a bad painting, the whole thing was past redemption. I’d gone too far. Delete. Delete. Delete. I’ll rewrite from scratch tomorrow.
Glorious colour is an ethereal glow. Like stained glass its beauty is not in itself but in the light that pours through it, effortlessly enhancing without drawing attention to itself.
That’s the effect I want in my writing.
That’s also what I hope to achieve with my life.
“I am the Light of the world”
8 thoughts on “Glorious Colour or Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud?”
“Like stained glass its beauty is not in itself but in the light that pours through it, effortlessly enhancing without drawing attention to itself.”
I love the way you’ve applied this to writing. It’s a great goal to work toward.
Thanks, Carol. I keep stretching, but it’s a long reach.
I’m staying away from the literary today…. You took “months” to decide on a color ….. Once upon a time my lovely wife ‘decided on a color’ ….. As I finished painting (the entire downstairs of the house) she decided (most apologetically) that she wanted something ‘a shade brighter’ (sigh). Re-painting was still better than the stripes that I had to paint in the bedroom the following year. Glad she didn’t want plaid – I’d still be workin’ on it.
Have a great weekend. DE
I can sympathize with you… or, at least, with your wife. Soon after we moved into this house my office *had* to be repainted (I hated the original colour). I chose a pale aqua that went with the existing “sea foam” carpet (it’s in all the bedrooms and I hate it, too). He painted and no sooner finished it when I realized I didn’t like it either. I felt I was trapped in an aqua box, but I didn’t have the heart to ask him to redo it. I muttered a lot, though, and a couple years ago my husband decided he would repaint it again for me while I recuperated from some surgery. I was to choose the colour and he would do the work. Well, I tried for a soft butter cream, but because of the lighting in here it turned out quite yellow instead of cream. I don’t hate it, but I don’t like it, but I’m not saying a word about it!!
I like your stripes idea but I’d never get my husband to agree to do it. Plaid? I think not.
Purple prose is so “out” right now. But I tend to embellish at times and what better way than my favorite color purple.
I’ve gone a little crazy in painting my house. When people walk in it takes their breath away–though, likely not in a good way.
Problem is, I like color too much. I can’t accept that I have to live with sameness. I have a bright green apple in the guest room. Daughter’s room is orange stripe, one wall, and solid yellow. The office is lime green and purple. My bedroom is terra cotta with a faux finish. The kitchen is avocado green and eggplant purple. Blue family room. Faux finish in dining. Bathrooms are done in ocean colors. And best of all, I splurged and bought Ralph Lauren Metallics (olive green) for the living room and hallway.
I did it all myself. You could dust the paint brushes for fingerprints and not find any from my husband, who prefers white walls–yuck.
I think homes should reflect their owners, so if bright colours are your thing, go for it! Who cares what visitors think? 🙂 My daughter-in-law’s home is more colourful than I could live with, but it’s lovely and suits them well… not really bright colours but rich ones and many-hued.
I lean to the more neutral, seascape and landscape colours, and carry a monochromatic theme throughout the house. I always have to be careful that I don’t put my characters in exactly the same environment I would choose, particularly when it doesn’t suit their personalities!
Aaggg – Someone mentioned faux painting. Did that as well. Had to build multi-tiered scaffolding because of the height. And I wonder why I have a bad back???
I’m dreading doing this house. It’s smaller than the one in Pennsylvania but we have high ceilings (some coffered), lots of trim & funky wainscoting. The crown moulding goes throughout & is about 16″ deep. If the economy was better, I’d gladly pay someone else to do it.
Your house sounds beautiful and with lots of character. I don’t envy you all that trim to paint or paint around. I’ll bet you go through a lot of painter’s tape!