If you regularly read my blog, and thank you if you do, you will know that colour is of great interest to me. When you immerse yourself in a topic like colour, you can go quite far along many fascinating and often quite complex paths but something very simple occurred to me this week.
There are an endless number of books and magazine articles available instructing us how to ‘be happy’ but this week I witnessed numerous people entering a room looking pretty serious, glum even, and emerging from the other side transformed into carefree smiling happy looking people.
This remarkable room they entered is in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh which currently has a Sol LeWitt installation, Wall Drawing 1136, painted directly onto the gallery walls. Wouldn’t it be great if the gallery filmed visitors as they entered the room and showed the footage as a separate installation? The transformations were really quite marked.
Wall Drawing 1136 contains the seven colours of the rainbow and it literally dances around the room. Sweeping through the bold vertical bands of colour is a wide, playful curve. Complementary colours red and green are the only two colours which are repeated in the curve boosting the energy levels of the curve even further. Interesting that such a colourful, dynamic, powerful and happy work should be designed by Sol LeWitt in 2004 when he was 76, which was close to the end of his life in 2007.
Considering part of my job is to specify paint, I was intrigued by the process of translating Sol LeWitt’s detailed instructions into the physical artwork that appears in the gallery. It took a team of eight one month to complete. The gallery walls were re- plastered, then washed with a fine adhesive paste making the walls smooth and hard. Eight coats of white paint were then applied before the process of masking (150 rolls of tape were used!) out the bands could take place. Each band of colour then had seven coats of paint applied! The process can be seen on the gallery’s flickr stream – looks like they had some fun too.
The water based acrylic paint they have used is Lascaux, a Swiss paint company – the first European company to produce acrylic paint for artists. An interesting company who pride themselves in their water based production methods. All the water that leaves the factory is cleaned in their own purification plant.
But back to my initial point. Colour, especially the colours we associate with childhood (we all loved our packs of crayola‘s after all) can create intensely powerful emotions. Couple this with the imaginative and detailed instructions from Sol LeWitt which are then perfectly executed by a dedicated team of craftsmen and you create a heady installation of pure joy.
Colour makes you smile.