It starts with blue. Autumn skies are different from the skies of summer or spring. This is the first ingredient. Then, copper, rust, terracotta, amber and gold, streaked with green – the green of glass bottles, the turquoise of the shallow sea, and the deep blue green of the ocean.
I start to see these colours when I close my eyes and sometimes dream of them. They feel like perfume, or wine, or freshly ground coffee, or chocolate; I swear I’m absorbing them just by gazing at them. I’m drinking them in.
It’s not enough just to think of them, so I get out my palette and let two colours loose on the page. Phthalo Turquoise and Burnt Sienna spread themselves in brilliant glory and then collide, a confluence of energy swirling and merging, creating currents of soft new colours without names. I’ve stopped thinking; I think I’ve forgotten how to speak. I’m lost in colour.
What does colour mean to you?
All of a sudden, overnight, the ceiling has become the floor.
I found myself astonished the way I am by snow – a sudden transformation in great sweeps of colour. Overnight rain brought leaves down in their thousands, and because there was almost no wind they came straight down, falling quietly and settling one on top of another until all the grass and tarmac disappeared and every inch under the trees was carpeted. This –
became this –
Under the lime trees I was treading on a multi coloured carpet of every kind of yellow and gold, merging into a glow of russet red under the copper beech.
Every leaf is a small marvel. I crouched down to explore more closely and then glanced up to see this –
What more to say? I walked around everywhere smiling, up banks and over lawns normally slippery with mud and wet grass, feeling soft leathery leaves under my feet. No paths visible – just great swathes of colour, undulating waves of copper and gold.
Tomorrow the yellow will have faded a little, and the next day more, and the gold will lose its glow; but because I was there today I saw it, and was amazed.
Every day a little more colour.
Every moment, change – clouds part suddenly and then close in again; the afternoon draws in. The hour before dusk is a slow gathering of shadows and a ripening of glowing colour.
I soak it all in. I stand about under the trees and look up, head back, gazing up through the canopy and the next moment I’m crouching down, with leaves rustling like paper bags and the smell of damp earth under me.
Closer and closer. To get lost in it all, to forget everything else and sink into this colour, this hour, this moment that will never come again.