Glorious Colour or Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud? (Take #2)

When tasks get ahead of me, the calendar gives me the eagle eye, and I don’t have the energy required to catch up… something has to go, and today it’s the blog. With memories of the Surrey Conference still fresh in mind, I hope you’ll excuse me for re-running this post that was originally inspired by Jack’s rendition of the Hippopotamus Song.

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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 this 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.

Colours1Glorious 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”

~  ~  ~

I Like It. She Doesn’t.

Not long ago I mentioned that I don’t choose books based on reviews. What one reader likes in a story isn’t always what satisfies another. Do you ever wonder why that is? Why one agent passes on a manuscript because it doesn’t ignite a spark, and yet another agent will become a passionate advocate of the same story?

Some years ago I designed a small stained glass piece for a church group in Port Alberni — a fish symbol suspended on the diagonal midway between the indigo of sky and ocean, and the green of land. Deciding on exactly the right colours wasn’t easy. Depending on where it would hang (south-facing window, on a wall, in a dark alcove, etc.), the light would affect the perception of its colours.

A Benedictine monastery near where I live provides a worshipful environment enhanced by the effect of unusual stained glass windows. The chapel is circular, and the colours of the glass gradually change from one window to another around the perimeter. Depending on the time of day and location of the sun, the light infusing the chapel glows with different hues.

It’s only my opinion, but my heart tells me that each individual sees the intensity of colour differently, according to where they stand in a room. Each feels degrees of emotion in relation to their own experiences. Each receives an author’s words into the unique arena of their own preferences.

One person likes our writing. Another doesn’t. It’s nothing personal. Then again, it’s all about personal taste and individual choice. It’s true in stained glass, in all forms of art, so why not in writing?


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Glorious Colour or Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud?

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.  

 

Colours1Glorious 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”