The question I have been asked to answer is why color is such a powerful force in visual art.
Because we are animals that see certain colors. Dogs enjoy a wide palette of scents, and we converse in colors. Color helps us find fruits and things that are good for us, and we lack the ability to sniff them out.
Color seems wired to the brain in humans. This wiring is plastic, as no color is really assigned a universal meaning. “I am Red” has color speaking in first person, connecting itself with passion, anger, sex, heroism, romance, aggression, life, and fire. And where those associations are common, they vary culturally. In “Made in the Shade; Annals of Commerce,” Leslie Harrington explains that “‘in India, red evokes romance or happiness, but in Korea, it evokes romance or fear.'”
Assigned meaning of color can change in a short amount of time, as illustrated in “Code Pink,” where author Lauren Sandler explains that assigning blue as a boy color and pink as a girl color is only maybe 70 years old. It had been switched previously, and before the 20th century, there were no gendered colors.
From 1997 until 2008, I worked for Kinko’s, now FedEx Office. I ran the color department, and printed many signs and banners. I love color. Love it. I used to wonder if I was one of those people with an extra kind of cone on their retinas – super color seers. I took an online test, and I am not. I do pay a lot of attention to colors, though.
My favorite use of color on the internet is the Color Oracle at astro.com. (It’s under the “free horoscopes” tab.) One at a time, choosing from a grid of colors, you choose first the color you like the best, and then choose the color you like the least. You repeat this until you have filled all of the blanks. Then it interprets what is going on in your head right now. For me, it is eerie right. And when I feel differently, I make different color choices. Try it out!
Funny you should ask. I have been asking myself the same thing.
I am someone’s daughter
grandmother, niece, mother-in-law.
I am someone’s lover
I am someone’s student
confidant, best friend, moral compass, ride to the airport.
But I am not just that.
a fish owner
I am a fire walker.
There is no essential “who” that I am. My present self is a culmination of relationships, times, events, and dynamics mixed with my general temperament. I am an ego taking care of my spirit-mobile, trying to find my way. Wherever we’re going.
My favorite answer is this. I am a beautiful skin sock holding water and farts.
So y’all who know me know I find walking fire really fueling. The Light Institute in Galisteo, NM, hosts the New Year’s Eve Fire Walk every year, and it is facilitated by the lovely Gwen Feisst.
This year two friends joined me, which was wonderful! It is easy for people to say they want to go, but actually showing up is a very different thing! Kudos to Lori and Lory! So I gathered my friends and we headed the hour and some change northeast to Galisteo. After we settled in and three other brave souls arrived, Gwen began the workshop.
We head out into the clear winter night when it is time to light the fire. The wind has slowed, but is still blowing pretty hard. The cedar is stacked beautifully, in two rows of stacks. We place the kindling along the bottom, and Gwen stuffs balled-up newspaper strategically among and behind the kindling, and then douses the beautiful creation with vegetable oil. We distribute books of matches, and get to the business of lighting the fire.
In spite of, or perhaps with the help of the wind, it lights quickly and easily. A year ago, the year of the bitterly cold NYEFW, it was very stubborn and difficult to light, and behaved much like the year we walked into – intense, sometimes chaotic and unpredictable. The fire grew amazingly quickly, and along with the wind and the roar, seemed like a train traveling so fast that flames frantically lapped its exterior. (Forward explosion, as Chris Griscom referenced in the New Year’s Day Knowings the next day.)
I love this time of being with the fire. I love being mesmerized by the flames, looking at the colors in the flames, the shapes, the invitations. I sit with the fire from different angles. Fire is my teacher. This one is hot and furious. Strong and unified.
We have had rain and snow several times over the past few weeks, so the normally hard ground is soft and wet. I volunteer to tend the fire while the others return to the building and do some activities. I love this time alone with the fire. I do my own exercises, releasing what no longer serves me to the fire, bringing in the new.
Shortly before midnight, Gwen and the group return. Gwen grooms the coals, raking the pile into a long, narrow line. Another woman and I carry the large pieces away. Three others, fire walking veterans, join us. We take our shoes off, join hands and practice breathing through the soles of our feet, feel the oneness with the coals, and all who walk fire before us and after us. We take turns patting the coals with a shovel. The wind has almost completely stopped.
Then it is time for whoever feels that it is their night to walk first, to walk across the fire. Not even a minute passes, and our first walker crosses the fire. Then the second. I love this time. I look in, ask my Higher Self. She says, “Yes, now is a good time.” I walked a short distance. This fire is soft, gentle. Not particularly hot, though I know it is really sizzling hot. I feel excited, magical! Others are walking, laughing, too. Walk for family, for love, for conscious evolution! I walked the full length several times – it feels great! By now my feet are getting really cold! It is about 20 degrees, and the ground is moist. When everyone who wants to walk the fire is done, we hold hands and whoop and holler through the fire! Woowoowoowoowoo!!!!
Oh, it is great fun to find my boots and socks in the dark. When I set them down, I always think I will remember exactly where they are. Ha! I could bring a flashlight, but what would be the fun in that?
We wander back up into the building, into the warmth and light. We celebrate with sparkling cider and decadent chocolate cake! The resident dogs offer to help with the cake. We sit on blankets on the wood floor, sharing our experiences. Gwen gives each of us a souvenir post card – we have walked fire, we perform miracles! After helping to pick up and many hugs, we load back in my Nissan and head home to Albuquerque.
Off with the smoky clothes, into the shower. It feels so good to shower the soot off my miracle feet! They are fine, perfect! Rosemary mint soap smells and feels delicious!
My friend Anne and I returned to the Light Institute the next day for Chris’s New Year’s Day Knowings. I always feel uplifted when I go. I endeavor to maintain that feeling, and not just bask in it for an hour or so, and then slip back into the same old same old.
Welcome, 2012! You promise to be strong, transformative, magical! And thank you, Gwen, Chris, and my fire walking sisters and brothers – past, present, and future!
The mercury is up, and I am off to the Bosque. The Bosque is the narrow band of woods the hugs the Rio Grande in these dry parts. Corrales is pretty rural, and acequias are man-made irrigation ditches that loosely parallel the river through agricultural areas. I live by several of them.
One image is future wine, and the other is sandhill cranes having dinner. Honestly, I am not just sharing a part of my life, I am learning to blog from my phone. Thank you for your patience!
I feel peaceful here, it is one of my happy places.