ROY G BIV
Before there was a written language, color was the universal language of mankind. Prehistoric humans used color to describe every aspect of their lives. Red= blood; orange= fire; yellow=sun; green=natural vegetation/food source; blue=air; indigo=water; violet=the color of sunset/sunrise transition.
Historians believe prehistoric people would travel up to 25 miles to mine iron, for pigments to make the red and ochre paints for their cave paintings.
We know for certain that the Greek and Roman sculptures we think of as monochromatic white, were originally polychromatic! They had red lips, colored eyes, brilliantly hued garments–all painted with painstakingly created paints from pure pigment. The more rare the pigment, the more exalted the subject.
In 1025, Persian philosopher Avicenna included the use of color as medical treatment in his encyclopedic The Canon of Medicine. Since then, chromo therapy has been used to stimulate various physical and psychological responses. Modern scientific research suggests that viewing bright colors causes the brain to release the “feel-good hormone” dopamine; while cool blues provoke release of oxytocin, causing feelings of calm.
Light dispersion through a prism
In the mid 1600s, Sir Isaac Newton discovered that by shining light through a prism, he could separate light into the colors naturally occurring in a rainbow. The resulting colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, give us the pithy acronym Roy G. Biv, which has helped multitudes of school children master the visible color spectrum.
Many contemporary artists use color as the visual language of artistic ecstasy. Fausto Fernandez, a Mexican artist now living in the U.S., places layer upon layer of color, embellishing his paintings with diamond dust glitter, to magnify and reflect the chromatic effect. Undeniably influenced by the festive use of color in Mexican culture, he collages colorful flowers; draws energetic lines with crayon, and his works emerge as a triumph of colorful beauty. Fernandez’s works were recently featured in the touring museum exhibition, Beauty Reigns: Baroque Sensibilities in Contemporary Art.
Like Fernandez, Robert Townsend uses explosive color and celebratory themes in his hyper-realistic watercolors. Candy and lollipops, polka dots, and modernist analog clocks, all express the child-like excitement of color. Townsend’s colorful pop works are included in top museum collections such as the Getty Museum and the Frederick Weisman Art Foundation in California.
Brunson is more of a pure colorist, and she uses deep hues and bold shapes to achieve meditative transcendence. Brunson has received numerous art residencies, and her works are included in the American Embassy in Doha, Qatar, and museums throughout the U.S.
Brenda Zappitell, “Sunset in Santa Fe”
cold wax, acrylic and flashe on panel
Contemporary artists, like artists since the beginning of time, use the universal language of color to communicate directly through our senses, on the most powerful level.