Alice Aycock said to me once, "There are the colors of Nature and of Culture". Never before that moment was my comprehension of color more understood.
The colors of Culture are flat, glossy, bright and new. Just think of cars, grocery aisles, road signs, and LED advertisements. They shout, "Look at me! Look at me!" Like a young person full of innocence and excitement we experience these colors with inovative freshness.
The colors of Nature are deep, rich, weathered, and aged. They are there when you need them, for you to enter into when you like, by choice. Nature does not say anything, it listens. Its presence alone is comforting. A painting that you can penetrate, that is quiet, is to walk into a space undisturbed; the experience of wisdom bound to old nature.
Of course, these two categorizations are invalid and untrue, yet, can be helpful in discourse as a tool to perfect sensibility. As a young person, there is no doubt these divisions helped me to at least simplify and to more readily understand art’s ability to point to certain signs, symbols, and icons through the use of color.
As I understand it now, there is really no exception to the rule that all is Nature, including the human aspect. Man versus Nature is an idea construct, and if you consider our western notions of the cultivation of Nature for our own purposes; gardening, landscaping, city planning, and biogenetics, the idea is concrete. But, reality is more Taoist than anything if you consider their idea of “oneness”. The ancient Chinese were on to it early, as they considered themselves “of nature”. They did not view themselves working beside it, in it, or with it. They truly viewed nature as an expression from within. And generations later you have Jackson Pollock for example, as he told Hans Hoffmann in the simplest means, “I am nature.” Therefore, the division is really a silly one, but fun to think about nonetheless.
If we were to think of a third category, one where Nature and Culture intersect, perhaps then we are getting at something. When this notion of color crosses my mind I think of clothing and household paints. Both of which are cultural in use and demonstrate an understanding and use of natural color (as I pointed to before all colors are natural). Even the freshest and newest colors are natural. Think of springtime when all is spritely and new. Here, I am referring to the external world, but also think of colors that spring forth to your inner eye when stepping up to the canvas. If one is aware, we are able to manifest from within. Perhaps it requires the stimulation of a song or dance at times, but at other times, we awake to the memory of a dream of color. The dream may be of no resemblance to external form whatsoever, yet the color is there.