Colors

The images and associations thrive in color, or in the palette selected for a piece. William Gass knew this. William Gass gave us an entire book on blue, on being blue, on the being of blueness. From him, I learned to take color seriously—to savor, and save, the strange anecdotes. The blood of female cochineals found in the nopal cactus was often used to create a ruby red dye or paint. I realize this means things have been colored by cochineal blood. I save this in my notebook, also known as the paginated cardboard box in which I over-gather hues, textures, factoids, and images. 

Red connotes too broad a palette; red gains specificity, taste, texture, tone, and dimension only in its relation to other words. The red shoe is ubiquitous but the scuffed tongue of the red sneaker is unique. It sticks to the sole. Color gains dimension in its relation to light, or what Goethe called “the deeds and sufferings of light.” This dialogue, or dialectical relationship, between light and color gives us shades, shadows, hues, variations; it gives us the rose velour glove, the cinnamon car seat, the crimson splotch-storm of wailing baby cheeks, the bloodshot stare of the icon. 

I mine J. Crew and eyeshadow and instagram ads for color words. I keep the hue and locate it in relation to absent objects—the blue is only aquamarine when far from the ocean; the hospital sheets are bridal, lily; the tangerines on the table are sunset, light pollution above a city at dusk; the gray is unbuffed pewter; the gold is fake brass, late afternoon dandelion musk—I build the texture from metaphors and descriptions. 

Colors do certain things in relation to verbs, which is to say, they act upon verbs in uncanny ways. Black obfuscates. White starches and over-irons; it envisions; it entitles angels and light and epiphanic acts. Red scandalizes; it vexes and manifests; it scalds just as surely as scarlet scolds and crimson crushes and red food coloring blushes. Purple ennobles and regrets, as lavender sublimates and lilac softens and grape nurtures. Yellow exposes and illuminates; gold lionizes and conceives of itself in splendor on a meadow where green pickles and sours and renders grass tangy. Clover dawdles, but it also devises, as lime denies and leans into neon holding the hazard of electrified color as a hex. Brown deduces itself from the wall, from the bark. Tan yelps like a puppy as beige covers its eyes in regret and khaki stage-manages the image. Blue floods and inundates as it also clouds and accumulates into stacked cumulus. Azure sublimates and whispers. Turquoise suspends at teal contends with scintilla of verdure. Pine confines into a rooted shape. Dusk denies. Sunrise prompts. Twilight mentions and seduces. Silver mechanizes and machinates as brass surmises itself a cheap second. Pink discredits; fuschia pokes; flame demonizes and indicts. Mint improves while linen ignores. Coral arm-wrestles itself as metal dices. Tangerine scathes and stampedes as stone implodes. Make a list of hues that do things—what verbs can you lay next to them?