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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Gillia Cutshall

THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR & LIGHT: The Liminal-exhibition-artists reveal palette & setting secrets!

"Color (and value), as well as composition, may be noticed only subliminally, but they are key to drawing and holding the viewer's attention and creating a lasting impression. Part of this is the power of color to evoke mood and emotion.

Time Machines by Earl Grenville Killeen

In creating "Time Machines", which is composed of four separate images, I was especially attuned to balancing and effectively juxtaposing the colors as well as their values to fulfill the goal of pleasing and intriguing the eye, mind, and spirit."

Earl Grenville Killeen

"One day, I took a picture of my wife and cat asleep on our sofa. I showed the photo to my wife, and she said, “If you’re ever looking for inspiration, there it is.” She was right. Gustav Klimt’s painting “Woman with Fan” immediately came to mind when I thought about the blank walls behind my wife. It was the perfect opportunity to paint without a preconceived plan. I could allow myself to be guided by my own internal images and symbol making and as an opportunity to explore some of my own inner workings and imagination.

Blue Morph by Stephen Linsteadt

The background walls of “Blue Morpho” became dominated by yellow. I became aware that the colors yellow and red are not generally the predominant colors in my paintings. I think this is because I tend to paint from Nature, and She is green and blue in my mind. However, I almost always create an underpainting that is mostly pink, red, and yellow. These colors provide an active contrast and shimmer to the greens and blues of the overpainting. I also noticed that yellow and reds dominate paintings I have done of interior scenes. I consider myself more of an introvert and am attracted to the cool and calm of blues and greens.

Perhaps the more extroverted parts of myself lurk in the background, in the underpainting, and only peak through the foliage. Yet, when I paint an interior space, I am painting those parts that are concealed or looking for integration in my psyche. The interior space then becomes my innerscape.

The view to the outside takes us to the blues and greens of Nature as though the window serves as the liminal space between my inner self and my outer self. Yet the birds looking to the inside are mostly red and yellow—the colors of joy, passion, and freedom. I did make a conscious choice about the red color of the fabric over the sofa. I had just completed a series of paintings about Ariadne and incorporated in them the red cape worn by Dionysus to symbolize the red thread she used to help Theseus escape the Minotaur in the labyrinth of spacetime. Red is the color of magic and the courage of the hero/heroine in the legends of the

hero’s journey (seen as a spiritual journey). She later became the wife of Dionysus, who was the God of spiritual ecstasy and transformation.

For me, the painting has a sense of repose and other worldly feel about it. I hope it transports the viewer to a place of their own fanciful imagination."

Stephen Linsteadt

"Color in my work ‘흔적 on wall’ are the group of the traces from each painted narratives. The word ‘흔적’ is a Korean vocab for ‘trace, remaining, and something left after an incident.’ As told from the word itself, the major part of the marks and colors on the white wall is the intentionally preserved happy accidents. In other words, each color is from one of the several paintings that I worked above the wall, which did not have its own choice to bring specific color palette.

흔적 on wall by Hyunhee Doh

Though, the combination of each color has been created by the intentional scratches, mark-making and the attachment of an object or two. In between tracing process of the 흔적 from each painting, the artist added the drawing/printing/collage elements that could make the bridge to the colors from each 흔적. Mingled party of the intentional and unintentional colored traces, majorly delivers what this work wants to tell the viewers.

Raw digestion of unintentional records from other factors and the unsustainable character of work itself presents what artist want to argue about the way we remember the past moments in life."

Hyunhee Doh

"Two weeks in quarantine on the other side of the world, what can I make in my hotel room with turmeric tea, paper, and thread? I grab color wherever I can: just as I did for the Turmeric mask in Liminal!"

Cheryl Ramette

Cheryl Ramette
Turmeric Unmasked by Cheryl Ramette

"In my paintings, I use color in a very natural but highly symbolic way. In terms of color, with this specific piece “Considering”, I am using the grounding colors of earth, the mouse’s body, and branches to represent our lived experience, our lives, our existence which makes up two-thirds of the painting, a vast majority of our lives. In contrast, the top ⅓ with its white and blue are the sky realm or matters of the spirit, our self-growth, our dramatic, painful, and easy transformations that happen throughout our lives.

Considering by Leona Gamble

These two color blocks divide the painting into two planes of existence, or two states of mind, interchangeably. The white and blue cradle the lines of the branches, that lead back to the mouse hanging in the earth realm, tying both realms together via small paths that symbolically or inevitably we must decide to travel or not."

Leona Gamble

“I love the honest power of the color of a black ink line on white paper. Once a line is down it is there for good, can’t be erased or swept under the rug of other colors. The act requires courage to draw with a confident freedom that is readable in the energy of the line as it describes form.

Portrait of Nietzsche by Bob Conge

No tricks here, a drawing shows the viewer exactly how it was made.”

Bob Conge

"As I work on a piece of digital art I start experimenting early on with

color gradients to find the best palette to showcase the individual elements. There are literally thousands of gradients to choose from or they can be created as needed. A gradient is simply a collection of colors, and each one can be further modified, e.g. by brightening, increasing color saturation, sharpening contrast, etc. My final selection is based on a purely aesthetic response."

Paul Griffitts

Detail from "Solace" by Paul Griffitts

"I usually work with color sparingly in my work because I like to mute autobiographical expressiveness and allow the formal qualities of each piece to be central. Often I will color a piece the same as the wall it is hanging from or the pedestal that it is sitting on. My goal is for the process, material, and resulting form to be more present than a personal narrative."

Christopher Kanyusik

“The use of color in my installations and sculptures is subtle. It supports the primary expressive elements of light and shadow and space.

Flowering by Diane Gilbert

I think of the small reflective or colored surfaces in this work as expressions of light similar to the little rainbows you might see refracted in morning dew drops or the interference colors on soap bubbles.

Everything is made of light.”

Diane Gilbert

"As a whole, and in the detail, the message that the muted, smudged, pock-marked and crumbling colors send in this piece is that of decline, a long endured wearing away of this relic of a long-ago era."

Richard Howell

Color as Instinct

"We experince color as a feeling or instinct, an involuntary reaction.

We are imbedded in nature, and can better understand ourselves in

terms of the seasons and the elements. Reds are warm like fire and summer. Blues are cool like water and winter. Green is spring, wood, and growth. Orange is autumn harvest, hearth, and earth element.

Along the Edge 4 by Robert Bergstrom

I use color grading in Lightroom or Photoshop to add warm colors to the highlights, and cool colors to the shadows, to enhance contrast. Another tool is the radial gradient layer, to add warm colors in the center, and cool color in the periphery as a vignette, to help direct the viewers eye."

Robert Bergstrom

"Blue. My choice of color for a painting is usually intuitive. I respond emotionally and expressively to color, and, as I paint, my palette evolves depending on how the colors respond to one another. I build layers, a color history, allowing shapes and colors to emerge and some to remain only partially visible. Red suggests vigor, fervor, and love while yellow suggests energy and warmth. Blue was the right hue for my painting, “The Borderland Between Wakefulness and Dreams” because it symbolizes serenity and calmness. It tends to lower our heart rates, blood pressure and our body temperature. It can slow our breathing and can affect our sleep patterns.

"The Borderland..." by Liz Thoresen

In “The Borderland Between Wakefulness and Dreams”, the blues are soft and the shapes blend into one another creating a hazy effect just as the “space” we pass from: an awakened state to one of sleep and dreams."

Liz Thoresen

"I started as a film photographer working in my own darkroom. I have always been drawn to monochromatic, meditative, and quiet images but at the same time I like turbulent skies. To paraphrase Tolstoy: Sunny days are all alike; a stormy day is cloudy in its own way. When you live at the edge of a continent, the elemental powers of weather, wind, and wave strip away your sentimentality for nature. Here you feel the force of the ocean at night as it grinds the granite boulders into sand. After storms, whole chucks of shore will have disappeared. Hurricanes rip away wharves and deposit sofas on the beach. I like to pare an image down until all that is left is the essential: Light."

Kip Harris

"I currently work primarily in a limited (liminal?), constrained palette of blacks, whites/ivories/creams, and muted earth tones which suggest the natural world of sand and stone. This was not initially a conscious choice...I found that I craved texture, the haptic, the visual and visceral sense of touch in my work. When I limited the color palette and worked primarily in one tone, hue or color family, it allowed the textures and materiality of the work to take center stage. Different materials present color in different ways, and the layering of materials such as cloth, cord, string, paper and paint served to create the story.

The Gates by Debra Disman

This chroma "limitation" paradoxically created an abundance of freedom in how the work was made and seen. I experience liminality as a range of feeling within an emotional register, and limiting my color choices served to identify and intensify this."

Debra Disman

Detail from Micheline Ronningen's work

"I'm a mixed media artist--finding color in paint (both acrylic and water) whether tube, pan, liquid, marker or pencil (Inktense), and colored pencil, ink, gel and Micron pen. Typically color is the dynamic moving the whole.

I also consider white (even blank or untouched) and black significant color areas."

Micheline Ronningen

"I've been working with a limited color palette for a while now - white, black, and all of the colors in between. This gives me the space and freedom to focus primarily on raw emotion and materials."

Allison Hudson

"She's the Sound of..." Allison Hudson

"The simple definition of this word is - between one state and another. I felt that my painting- The Waiting Room- addressed that situation on several levels. Anyone who has ever sat anxiously in a hospital waiting room has experienced the uncertainty and ramifications of the outcome. We are all in a constant state of Liminal in our daily lives but never so intensified and tragically as during this time of the COVID pandemic.

"The Waiting Room" Carla O'Connor

Color is the very first thing any viewer of art is aware and impacted by even before subject, technique, etc. It is an immediate emotional response and something I strive to achieve in my work- that connection between me and another human. I try to successfully express emotions visually."

Carla O’Connor

"Muscogee" by Donna Garcia

"With Muscogee mood is created through abstraction, done in various ways, causing an inner reality to be exposed when the appearance of certainty is eroded. When things shift from secure and safe to a reality that is indeterminate – a gray area. By abstracting what is recognizable to the viewer, forms detach themselves from their literal nature and are then capable of isolating the most significant expression within their meaning. Allowing light and shadow to deform or transform the shapes of things is a constant in my art, so tonal black and white is an optimal choice. This interplay of contrasts and counter-contrasts culminates with a half-tangible, half-unreal atmosphere or mood. Through the function of light and shadows mood can manifest itself in various elements and composites of external life to reveal meaning, while communicating a message. The concept of my work visually discards old ideals and conventional sets to convey a transcendent state of becoming."

Donna Garcia

"As a photographer I have always noticed a desire to use a variety of blues and warm tones such as peach, amber, and browns together in my work. Perhaps it reminds me of the many visits to New Mexico and the light which is so wonderful for photography. The colorful sky and open land provide me with peace.

In my image “Just Breathe”, the color reflects this peace and is an ethereal light perfect for a Liminal image."

Kathleen Donovan

"Neutral colors enable me to focus on the story subtly and deeply. For all the neutral paintings in my last series - like this one in this show, I have been using sets of rich primary colors to create palettes of gray tones to better convey my message. Time and sound become more private and intimate, almost an

evanescence experience!

Maria Botti Villegas

"The Unsolicited Leader" Maria Botti Villegas

"The photograph chosen from this series was transformed from the original color to black and white. The structure spoke for itself, alone out there in the ocean. The afternoon light was beautiful. The color of the structure was interesting. The color of the ocean and sky are always intriguing and always offer tempting potential. But the chosen image was simply about the structure, about its liminal state after the storm. There, now gone."

Susana Berdecio

"Structure 1" Susana Berdecio

"Between" Lawrence Manning

"I make my color choices up everyday. whim? instinct? I don’t know.

I have not been formally trained in color theory, and as a commercial photographer, I was concerned with for the most part, color temperature, how warm and cool the light could be.

As I observe painters, I am amazed as how much experience and thought go into their mixing and rendering of colors, and how that knowledge and instinct flows into successful presentations.

Betty, my wife, a painter, feels that my lack of formal training allows me to come up with color combinations that most folks would not explore. It is an amazing experience to have painters comment on my photography and I always benefit by their suggestions.

It’s ironic to me, that I am learning to think and perceive in deeper ways as a visual artist, than my commercial, professional experience in photography provided (two different worlds I discovered)."

Lawrence Manning



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