Sometimes, in order to stop thinking, I soak up a favourite colour. I’ll let myself be drawn into anything that overwhelms me with colour, whatever colour it is. I gaze at it wordlessly and marvel at what it is until I’m completely lost in the intensity of it.
There’s a Western called Billy Two Hats in which the character played by Gregory Peck is preoccupied by the colour green. Being Scottish and finding himself in the American West in a landscape with almost no green anywhere, he finds himself pining for the colours of his native land. I realise how during the course of this summer, much of the mid-west of America must have understood this obsession – while over here in Britain, until August the colour that we all fantasised about was blue, the iconic colour of a summer sky.
Here we have an abundance of green, and it’s one of the colours that I most often like to immerse myself in until I feel I’m almost swimming in it. There are times after rain, when the sun comes out and plants are still covered with water droplets – and times when the sun catches blades of grass or shines through leaves, when you can stand under a tree and be dappled by shadows and enclosed in a green world; then it’s not hard to let everything else drop away, to find words have become unimportant and irrelevant, and to be aware only of where you are standing, and the colour green….
Then there’s red. So many individual shades of it – each one with its own character like different kinds of music. When I drop into the unconsciousness of colour like this it’s rather like breathing it in – like smelling it, or even feeling it like the air in my lungs.
White is not a colour, but the absence of it – as detergent manufacturers are always fond of reminding us with their products that are supposed get our whites whiter and brighter.
Paint companies on the other hand, understand that we know that white is never, well, just white. They want us to choose from Pearl White, Oyster White, Almond White, Rose White. The whites I know and love are Bedroom Curtain White, Cloud White (there are some wonderful ones as I look out of the window right now) and Sheep White (I can see some of those too in the distance, dotted across fields of green) – but there I go again – bringing words into it, getting away from the whole point of it all…..
….it’s the curse of language. We need words to disentangle our thoughts sometimes, and to explain what we’re thinking to ourselves and others, and yes, when used creatively they too can take us into the same state of mind that sensations, like the simple pleasure of soaking up colour, can. But how badly we need to spend more time without words, doing nothing more than watching a sheep (or a picture of one) and just loving its whiteness and woolliness. I think I need to go off right now and fold some newly washed sheets, and maybe iron some pillowcases.