I am seeing red

red colour in images of an old door and lock with circles


Last month, at Create2Flourish, we launched a monthly challenge. One theme a month, one month to create something, anything with a maximum size of 20″. “It can be a sketch, it can be a finished piece, it can be a collage … you get the idea. “Something” is the key word: it can be a sketch for future work, a small piece, a collage, a watercolour painting …

The theme for February is Serendipitous Red Revelations. All about red. Do you use red in your work? As an accent? As a colour on its own right? Have you ever made a “red” piece where the majority of the colour is red? A few years back, right before the pandemic, I took a week-long workshop with Claire Benn at Nancy Crow’s Barn in Ohio. The goal was to work monochromatic. I thought I knew exactly what colour I was going to choose. Can you guess? Yup … black or greys.

Grey was the easy way out. The comfort zone. Area known. The “been there done that” colour that I choose often. And the goal of the week-long workshop was to create work that challenged your own creative thoughts. OK, then. It was a close race between yellow and red. In the end, red won. I can’t remember the reasons I chose red over yellow, or if they were any really. But red it was.

Choosing red meant doing research. You know I do have a fondness for research. I started gathering images in red and created lots of digital collages – I was working at the time, so lulls in office activity gave me time to play online.

From magazines I cut red images and created a couple of red collages with a touch of yellow: this gave me the opportunity to add another colour and by chance I found one wonderful image in red with some yellow on it. Perfect!

And while all that was going on, I bought a book on the history of the colour red – confession time: I started reading it and never really finished it – ughhh! Last week, I did some more research into the colour red. Now I have a good excuse. I’ve been creating work for the challenge too! A great opportunity to resurrect those pieces I worked on during the workshop that never finished. When you are in a workshop environment like that, surrounded by people with the same creative energy, you sit and ponder, take notes, work on exercises and ponder some more. You are encouraged to create “meaningful” work. To consider your next moves at every step. Thoughtful consideration is encouraged and hurrying to make work for the sake of making work is discouraged.

Did you know that red is the oldest colour in the world? Red art has been around for more than 40,000 years when hunters ground red clay to paint the walls of caves! It is the first colour that humans see after black and white. Red in warrior settings in Rome, and in Christianity. In Chinese philosophy red is one of the colours associated to the five elements: the fire element, and therefore red, is linked to dynamism, leadership, confidence, aggression, and hypersensitivity.

In today’s world, red is the colour of humanity and features strongly in art and design. This month, with Valentine’s Day coming up, we’ve been seeing red in adverts, bows, roses and heart-shaped chocolate boxes.

Red has figured prominently in my life these past few weeks. I went to the art store this past week to pick something for someone else and ended up coming home with some new shiny red supplies to work with! Simple pleasures …

art supplies

I’ve also been working in my sketchbook with papers and a glue stick – some of my favourite moments of the day. I stitched one piece that I had unfinished for a while. And then, resurrected a piece I had been working on for a while and then neglected. It’s finally back on the couch and for the past few nights, when it is quiet and the world is going to sleep, I sit and stitch. What a glorious feeling!

And for the rest … well, one at a time. I have some ideas to create more work with red as a focus. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted on Instagram and Facebook. So if you are not yet a follower, I invite you to go check it out.

I’m off to create some red work in between continuing to arrange, rearrange, clean and cook. Thanks for reading. Until I write again, keep creating … maybe something red?


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