Wednesday, 22 July 2015

How green is my valley?



Over the years, I have spent ages on building sites suffering constant Radio One blaring from radios when not drowned out by deafening machinery, and now I find myself in that situation again. I hate it.

I am doing a glory job which I cannot delegate to anyone else, because I have never yet found anyone who can do it as well as me, if at all. I am artificially ageing bright new stonework with paint washes.

"What's that you're using?" one of them will ask me every day, "I don't expect you will tell me - it must be a trade secret."

"It's paint," I will answer to anyone, in the sure knowledge that they could not mix it and apply it like I can, even if they are a professional artist. I know that H.I. can't but I also know she could with practice. Then there is the other inevitable remark:

"I thought you covered it with yoghurt to age it." 

"That will just turn it black," I explain, "It has taken six or seven different colours to get this one, and you can't use the same mix on all of the building. You have to vary it." I don't say that there has to be complementary colours side by side before it will work. Too much information.

Cro may remember this. At our college, one fellow student decided to paint a design in whiting - the ground chalk they use for marking out cricket pitches (I haven't got time to explain cricket to all you Americans right now) - on the grass which was right outside the main front of the new college building.

The building had been entered into a design competition by the architect, and the assessment was due to take place that very afternoon.

The Head of Painting - a man called Harold Cheeseman - was incensed at this, and ordered the student to remove it. The student refused, so Harold - in a fit of rage - began kicking and scrubbing at the design with his shoes until he succeeded in making it even more visible by turning it into brown, muddy strips.

He went inside the building, then came back with some gouache colour - it was beginning to get interesting - and spent several minutes trying to mix up grass-green on a painter's palette. He should have spent a bit longer, and he should have looked at the grass a bit closer. In fact, it became obvious that this celebrated painter had never really looked at grass properly in his life. He painted great strips of lurid green all over the lawn which clashed horribly with the actual grass. I don't know how the architect took it.

Ask any child what colour grass is, and what do they say?  'Green'. Well, they are almost right.

14 comments:

  1. Even on a computer screen you can see how many - often complementary - colours it takes to make 'grass green'.

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  2. Our grass is brown at the moment. Maybe I should paint it green.

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    1. That's the colour of tree-trunks, isn't it?

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  3. That same architect though fit to paint black vertical stripes on the walls of the exhibition hall. When I suggested that it would be better ALL WHITE, he nearly collapsed; how could some idiot student think such a thing!!!

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    1. And architects wonder why they are so despised.

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    2. It should have been BROWN stripes!

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  4. And I thought it was all in the flavor of the yogurt.

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    1. Damn, you guessed. Banana for yellow, strawberry for pink....

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  5. It was only when I studied art that I found out that sky isn't just blue or grass green or skin pink or in fact anything is any colour that I had previously thought it was. It was quite exciting actually.

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    1. A lot of people never get to that basic starting point. And they say art schools are useless.

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  6. My first husband would have got on really well with you Tom. He was a painter and had great interest in colour - both in mixing it and in putting it on canvas. He could spend hours discussing a particular shade.

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    1. Really? I would like to have met him, but then I would like to meet you too, Weave.

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  7. May we see a before and after?

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    1. I am afraid I am not allowed to show anyone that, Mise. It sounds like melodrama, but I have signed all sorts of confidentiality agreements, and I need the income!

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