My Fight With Red

In response to Claudette’s Challenge #2 The Art of Humility

Flamingo Dance

Flamingo Dance


I have been coloring Mandalas and have mentioned that here and elsewhere. Although I love doing so, I also like a challenge. I wanted to do something more intricate then the simple designs I was finding on the Internet. Last week, I found a Dover book of Kaleidoscopic Designs by Lester Kubistal. It was just what I had been seeking.

My daughter came over yesterday and suddenly became aware of the many images I have been playing with. She really liked what she was seeing and started asking me if I’d do one for her with reds in it. I hemmed and hawed around and finally confessed that I have a great deal of trouble with the reds when coloring.

Red is the color of passion, but also of rage and anger. It is also the color of fire, warmth, and thus, creative energy. These are all things I know about and have written about and discussed for years. Yet, when it came to putting that color on paper it always seemed to fight me and the other colors. I had tried it many times and it just wasn’t working with or for me.

So, I had been sort of ignoring it. Using other friendlier colors. Ones that would lay down and do what I expected and definitely play nice with all the other hues I was toying with. In the back of my mind, I knew I would eventually have to confront this peculiar dilemma, but for the moment I really just wanted to enjoy what I was doing in peace. So I have been substituting the rust tones for the reds, making up excuses why they just work better with the blues and greens.

However, my daughter’s enthusiasm and eagerness brought the pending confrontation to the fore immediately. So I admitted to her that I just didn’t fully comprehend the function of red, in the scheme of things. It wouldn’t cooperate with me, so I wasn’t using it. I think that’s called spite and avoidance.

After she and her friends left, I got out one of my new designs and decided to take the plunge. I put two different shades of red at the very center of the design because that would mean that it would need to be repeated if  the design was going to work at all. Kaleidoscopes work on color and mirror images of those colors.

I have learned a great deal by engaging in this activity that is seen as child’s play. Although I took four years of Art in high school, and was even the teacher’s assistant in my senior year, I had never really learned about colors and how they interact on and affect one another. That may seem a bit incomprehensible, but I had a good beginner’s eye for color and that sufficed for most of my art activities. Until a few months ago when I began doing this thing with the entire spectrum of possibilities.

This has been a learn as you go process for me. But one of the most important lessons I have learned is that mistakes are not necessarily mistakes. They can be new paths opening up right in front of me. New ways of seeing things, and new movements to be tried. And yesterday, after admitting my ignorance, I did all of those things.

About half way through, incredibly pleased with what was coming alive beneath my fingers, I made a choice that could have been disastrous to the design and this new wrestling with the color red. One of the problems with laying down red is that its so difficult to cover up. It has a tendency to bleed into anything one might use to mend the image and quickly becomes a muddy mess. But there I was, half way through this wonderful little jewel of an image and there was red, sticking her tongue out at me and giving me a really loud raspberry to boot.

I refused to quit and throw out all of that work. I do know one thing, black will cover anything and still remain black. So I raspberried right back at red and she was so shocked she actually cooperated with my ongoing efforts. She became, if one might say it, compliable with my efforts. I really like the outcome and learned another valuable lesson.

It’s perfectly okay to admit out loud that you’ve made a mistake. The only thing that stands in the way of that is pride. Pride is the direct opposite of humility and humility steps up to bat when pride is lowered or even given the out signal. I can be grateful to my daughter for bringing my dilemma to the forefront. I can be grateful that I finally admitted that I was having problems and also avoiding them, and in doing so, exiling myself from the full spectrum of my own experience.

Perhaps that means that humility is really the color black. Able to absorb all other colors, yet toss them back again for better choices. Able to cover the worst mistakes and open up new doors of possibility. I like that and really love what I do, when it finally all fits together and makes something beautiful that didn’t exist before. Red and I may never become bosom buddies, but we at least now, have the beginnings for a multitude of new adventures and future engagements.


About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here:
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