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Monday, April 27, 2020

The Color Orange

Peeled orange, Marilyn McKing
Of all the primary and secondary colors I've discussed over the past weeks orange is probably my least favorite. That's apparently the feelings of a great many painters from the past because unlike most of the other major colors there are fewer works devoted mainly to this hue. If you eliminate those featuring sunsets and fall foliage you have fewer still. To my recollection, I don't think I've ever done more than one or two paintings in which orange has predominated. However, as you can see in the painting Peeled orange, (above) by Marilyn McKing, the color offers a wealth of possibilities. Of course it's impossible to paint a still life featuring an orange without using the various multiple shades and tints of available to the talented colorist. It's interesting to note how the artist uses so few areas of "pure" orange.

With such a narrow range of values between red and yellow
variations are bound to be quite subtle.
The color orange is a combination of red and yellow. It is a bright and warm color. It represents fire, sun, fun, warmth and tropical surroundings. Orange is considered a fun, light color with appetizing and delicious qualities. It also increases the oxygen supply to the brain and stimulates mental activity. A harmonious blend of red and yellow hues, orange is a color that oozes with delight. Bursting with energy and warmth. Orange is commonly associated with outdoor elements. It’s for this reason why tropical surroundings are frequently steeped in orange tones. From its playful shade to its inviting comfort, the color orange radiates a calm yet lively essence. With its fiery undertones, the color orange is often depicted in scenes where fire and sun are present. The deeper the shade, the more intense the setting. A blazing sun is thought to emit orange flames. Moreover, a crackling campfire is the pictorial definition of the color orange. In essence, while basking in the great outdoors, the color orange is likely to reveal itself. When it does, revel in its bright glow.
Orange very often swerves into what most people would term a shade of brown.
There's absolutely no consistency in the use of these titles.
Good luck curbing your hunger when the color orange is near. Hallmarked for its appetizing appeal, this reddish-yellow hue can trigger food cravings. Fortunately, these foods are generally healthy, with oranges being one of the most popular fruits. Some people add this color to their kitchen décor in hopes that it’ll stir up feelings of hunger. For those abiding by a strict diet, don’t be fooled by the edible desires that this color invokes. Characterized by orange leaves and warm tones, fall would lose its charm without the color orange. Adding a hint of warmth to traditional greenery, orange can literally alter the ambiance of the seasons. No doubt an impressive quality, orange is beloved for its subtle yet unique beauty.

There are a sizable number of feelings and meanings generated with orange.
In the throes of a difficult juncture, the color orange can offer security and strength. Unlike its color wheel neighbors, orange doesn’t evoke physical or mental responses. Instead, it inspires us to lean into our emotional understandings. By doing so, we dig deeper into our intuition. When feeling dispirited, find solace in the color orange. Clinging to this color will remind you that there’s light at the end of a depressingly dark tunnel. In keeping with the above theme, orange is known to uplift otherwise fallen spirits. Touted as one of the cheeriest colors, orange is the antithesis of darkness. Color psychology teaches us that seeing the color orange can ignite motivation, hope, and positivity. Given its ecstatic spirit, it’s no wonder orange helps us look on the bright side.

Still Life with Basket and Six Orange, 1888, Vincent van Gogh
It's interesting that while some artists have shunned the color orange in their works, others seem too have embraced it wholeheartedly. When it comes to the routine use of orange, Vincent van Gogh stand apart from most of the others as seen in his Still Life with Basket and Six Orange, (above) from the  year 1888. There are numerous other instances when some of his yellows might be termed orange. His near-red oranges are all the more brilliant as juxtaposed against the cool minty green environment. I wonder if he ate them after he was done.

Flaming June, 1895, Lord Frederic Leighton Lord Frederic Leighton's
An even more daring use of rampant orange can be found in a highly unusual figure by England's Lord Frederic Leighton which he has titled allegorically Flaming Jane. (He was a Romantic at heart.) Yet we shouldn't be so surprised at his use of orange in that it is quite often a component in flesh tones regardless of race. It's not so unusual to fine an orange basis for many warm portraits. One might say such figures are "light orange." The Norwegian Expressionist, Edvard Munch, also employs the color orange in his The Scream, from 1893, not in the figure, but in the fiery sunset beyond (below) from which the painting took its title. The painting was sometimes referred to by the artist as The Shriek.

Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature), 1893, Edvard Munch
When one begins to explore paintings with powerful oranges, we began to inch closer and closer to shades of reds as seen in Georgia O'Keeffe's Red Poppy (below). Obviously O'Keeffe has rejected the color orange as appropriate to a Poppy, but allows it to "take over." I'll let you judge as to whether this painting is orange enough. Are we to trust the title or the content insofar as "orangeness" is concerned.? One might say O'Keeffe "teases" us with her oranges and reds.

Red Poppy, 1927 Georgia, O'Keeffe
To only a slight lesser degree we find Salvador Dali's The Elephants (below) from 1944. Dali employs a narrow band of subtle gradations from yellow to red near his surrealist horizon. It first appeared in his 1944 work Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate, a Second Before Awakening. (How's that for a long title!) The elephants, were said to have been inspired by Gian Lorenzo Bernini's sculpture base in Rome of an elephant carrying an ancient obelisk.

The Elephants, 1944, Salvador Dali


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