Mom always says, "never cut a knot, always untie it. If you can't figure out how to untie a knot, you'll never figure out how to solve your problems."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

LEFT and the color of memory

Prep sketch for LEFT. 
Have you ever consider the color of memory.  

Today I remembered my dream from last night. Perhaps, I felt as thought I hadn't dreamt for a long time or if I had I was not remembering.  It's been hard to get a full, continuous amount of sleep when sleeping over at my mom's.  She wakes up almost every other hour and I along with her to ensure her safety and also that she just goes back to sleep. 

 So my dreams concerned an old friend to whom I had written yesterday with an update on my situation.  We were very close at one time but drifted.  People drift.  Lives go on sometimes in ways and waves unforeseen.  I thought we'd always stay close, and maybe in a way, absence is a form of closeness.  So in the dream I wandered around this arrangement of rooms that can best be described as labyrinths.  Mazes of different colors (pastels no less...which I would never have picked as colors that I fancy!) But then at the end of the dream...he was gone again.  This time the image was very different...sepia toned.  Lovely colors of walnut cloth dipped by magic fingers! The color of Eau de vie de marc. This is actually a brandy made from pomace - marc in French.  You might be more familiar with the term grappa.  It is a clear brandy type beverage that might have some sediment.  I use to kid my friend that it was the water from the life of marc.  In the dream that is actually how it ended.  My friend had vanished (the magic of dreams is that anything happens - right) but instead there was a little niche with a water fountain.  The color was so intensely sepia.  It was rich...when I awoke, my first thought was of the Eau de vie...that made me think about, "does memory have color." 

Looking at the image of the "prep sketch" the edge are obvious what we called faded, yellowed, aged.  There is even a musty smell to the page.  (does memory have odor?)  When we want to antique an image, we have it tinted most of the time "sepia" but sometime blue (cyan.)  We tend to think of old as Black and White images...digital is full spectrum color.  Technicolor. Photographs/film will fade to a reddish color.  (there is a chemical reaction on the acetate film base and moisture that will also crack the surface of the film...another image of aging...surface alteration: wrinkles/lines)  We tend to refer to elderly folks as having a greyish tone.  And when we lack oxygen - we turn blue. (As an aside, Joan Didion's new book was released today:  Blue Nights.  It is a memoir for her daughter.)  The blue refers to location at certain latitudes where there are long summer evenings - little darkness. Patina, also covers a more vibrant color...memory is held under the bluish cast.  

My cloth, LEFT, has to do with memory, past, remembering, loss.  The color was picked to evoke that sentiment.  It is suppose to make you think of the "back then."  The place, "the past, is a different country.  They do things differently there" kind of thinking.  The quote is from the Go Between, by L.P. Hartley.  
The cloth was dyed in walnut, double dipped with vinegar.  The "door" opening, top right, has a brighter orange color - that was an additional dying with metal - to get rust coloring.  Rust is passage of time, elements, change.  The band around the "amber/umber" color is a cloth that is "dyed" with (mold stain.)  I left the cloth - a pale pinkish cloth - wrapped in plastic (so as not to lose any moisture) for a good period of time 6-9 month!) to promote the mold growth.  Washing it made the "blackness" fade a little to a bluish (payne gray) color.  The thread that I'll use too, has been selected to keep in the same color scheme.

So when you think of the past/memory, do you see it in color, monochrome...or dark like a shadow.  Is the shadow following you.  In a linear sense, is the shadow then, your past perhaps. 

Latest stitched figure, LEFT, detail.


  1. yes. since you ask. my memories are not in color or black and white so I guess you could say they are in shadow. and memory smells are a big part of my life lately. didn't realize that's what they were until I discovered I was the only one smelling strange odors (not unpleasant but strange). and then there's muscle memory like when I used to play the piano or typing in a password I thought I had forgotten. interesting post.

  2. I will have to focus on my memory's colors (or lack of)...and smells...sometimes things (as in memories) just envelope you and it's hard to tell where they come from and where they go...it's hard to put a name on the sounds and smells and colors - but you Know them and you Feel them and they surround you and hold you in their embrace. Very interesting post.
    I will be thinking...

  3. Very thought provoking, I will have to pay closer attention to my dreams. Memories for me are definitely in colour and with amazing clarity. Ageing is another issue entirely and can cover so many aspects of life ancient and not so ancient, such as artefacts found in pristine/protected environments where ageing process has been slow. Interesting blog.

  4. I love what you're doing with this cloth. The Go-Between is one of my top ten all-time favourite books. I believe my memories and dreams all happen in colour, though less intense than in real life. 'Misty watercoloured memories... of the way we were.'

  5. Thanking you all for your comments. I do believe that the shared experience is so valuable and I learn so much from your additional comments. It's amazing what can trigger a memory...

  6. I used to dream in print. I could read the story of my dream, definitely strange. Get some liquid vitamin e for your mom and spike her drink with a couple of drops a day. Sometimes it works wonders, my mother stayed up all night and slept during the day, sometimes being awake for 2 days which would cause hallucinations. You don't ever want to go there. The vitamin e worked wonders for her.

  7. Your mom is very wise about the knots. Your work is beautiful! I am your newest follower. Come visit me and see if you'd like to follow me on some adventures.


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