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Beauty in the Ordinary

Practicing Stillness: Seeing Color


Red, yellow and blue—the primary colors. What makes them primary? Such a fascinating question: why is it that these three colors cannot be created by using other colors to mix them, as is the case with non-primary colors?
Here’s another question: What is blue? When we look at objects, such as the sky, or the ocean, it is easy to name their color ‘blue’, yet what is blue? In fact, what is a ‘color’?

Perhaps these questions seem a bit odd. If we consider the wonder-gaze of a child who has not yet connected a ‘word’ to identify a color, what are they seeing? Red, yellow, or blue? Or are they seeing and experiencing them just ‘as they are’ rather than through a veil of language? Is it possible for us to intentionally see color as full-of-wonder as a child does?

The above questions often arise in the intentional, playful process of setting up a still life arrangement. In this painting, Seeing Color, the investigation of primary colors inspired the composition. The process of creating the painting itself focused on pondering each color for what it is, rather than the concept of the color symbolized by its name. In other words, it was a practice of Artful Awareness.

Practicing Stillness: Seeing Color, original oil on canvas, 9.25″ x 9.25″

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Original oil painting by Seamus Berkeley