Tag: Colour

‘Air’ … the second Element Door

Yesterday’s post featured my painted door, Fire, from The Element Doors installation at The Gap State High School Library, Brisbane. Today’s art is the second door, Air. Monday’s blog – Water. Tuesday’s blog – Earth.

“Air” –  Sheryl Gwyther 2003

Each of the four doors has its own name – Air is also called That Eye the Sky. You recognise that name maybe? Yes, it’s a Tim Winton novel – a great story by an award-winning Aussie author.

Why call it after a piece of fiction? Because like most of my paintings, this one is about our Australian landscape. And in particular, the massive wheat-fields of Western Australia. It’s about the wide, open outback skies – their blueness with a light unlike any from Northern Hemispheres. I’ve never been to South America or Africa – maybe their sky is the same blue? 🙂 Or maybe it’s a trick of the light caused by reflection from the bare earth of Central Australia.

When I painted it, I imagined being able to see from horizon to horizon in one go – like you’re lying on your back in the air (if you know the artwork of William Robinson, you’ve know what I’m talking about).

William Robinson – ‘Summer Landscape’

So my wheat fields are both at the top of the picture and the bottom. The blues range from the yellow-y, pale blue closest to the horizon to the deepest blues in the middle. It’s the deep blues that draw the eye into the centre. I go through many tubes of blue paint – all types, but mainly Phthalo Blue. I can’t help it. I mix it with Burnt Sienna to make shadows, or pure, luscious colour in other parts. Phthalo Blue with a cool red, makes the most delicious Purple. 🙂

The colour blue has an amazing history – especially ULTRAMARINE Blue. Given its name by the medieval Italians (Oltramarino – ‘from beyond the seas’), most of the true colour pigment of Ultramarine comes from the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli. All of the real Ultramarine in both Western and European art came from one set of mines in a valley in north-east Afghanistan, Sar-e-sang, the Place of the Stone. (if you want to know more about the fascinating history of colour, read Victoria Finlay’s book, Colour.

Did you know that BLUE is the world’s most favourite colour? It’s a multi-cultural experience. I’ve often thought about that – could it be harking back to our prehistoric days when blue skies meant good weather=survival?

I did a quick survey of the teenagers in the Library at The Gap High School. They walked through the Element Doors every day, most didn’t even notice them, but some stopped to read the mixed media words on several of the doors and many of them watched as I painted the doors in situ – rather than work on their assignments etc at desks nearby.

My question – ‘What’s your favourite door and why?’
90% said Air. And why? A shrug of the shoulders and, ‘Dunno. Just do, that’s all.’ Interesting. 🙂

Note: Over 7 years, the students did not make a scratch or a mark on those four doors. The only cleaning I’ve done is a little grubbiness around the door handle, and a few scuff marks from the cleaner’s vacuum.

The Element Doors symbols – Sheryl Gwyther 2003

All images are copyrighted. If you would like to use them for educational purposes, please acknowledge them and contact me first for permission.
(c) Sheryl Gwyther 2011

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