The color of artists

white petaled flowers
Photo by Flora Westbrook on

Brown. An undistinguished color, common as dirt.

In academic regalia, other more brilliant colors are claimed by various fields of study, but Brown – that turned earth color, that dirt-that’s-been-rained-on color, that sometimes mud color – is reserved for the Fine Arts. It’s apparently the color for the composers, the performers, the visual artists who are earthbound yet are called upon to touch, just touch, and to point out to something sacred in us all. That turned earth that’s been rained on? That’s us artists. That mud color? That’s us.

It’s in our DNA, I suppose. We are a blend of earthly material, physical matter with a density that results in a muddy color as when blending many paints. But the rain, the inspiration and the warmth can bring forth newness from the common dirt. Even cool temperatures can call forth life.

My hope for Fine Arts grads this season: Stay humble and enjoy your bit of earth. Cultivate it, prepare it, be ready like any farmer who watches and prays… like the farmer, the artist prepares to feed many people in and beyond acquaintance.

On his website, painter Madison Cawein writes: “Why do paintings hang on walls? To connect earth to heaven…We also stand vertically, perpendicular to the earth. Connecting earth to heaven is also our purpose.”

Congratulations, Fine Arts graduates. Now let’s get to work.

10 years!

The Last Beach Day

Copyright Anita L. Rodriguez, The Last Beach Day, watercolor on paper, 5×12 inches

The above was painted from memory (atypical for me). I wanted to picture my last visit to the beach in Oceanside, CA but not a literal picture. On July 27, 2007 I wasn’t wearing this outfit nor did I have this hat and I was there with my 2 kids; however, I might have looked into the horizon or the sky and wondered what was going to happen now. We were moving to KY rather against our will; events had intervened that made it necessary and we wouldn’t be making our annual end-of-the-school-year trip to the beach anymore. My native Californian heart was heavy and I didn’t think I’d ever get over the loss…

But it’s been 10 years! I’ve accomplished a LOT in those years with paintings, exhibitions, travelling outside the immediate area, learning more technological stuff – more than I did in CA where I felt complacent. My attitude has changed and this one shift has been a game changer; negativity and a poor self image simply will not do. I sometimes do find myself wishing I could get a natural pedicure of sorts from walking on the beach but I have a new life and a new attitude now and I can’t go backwards.