I don’t have a signature color, or even a favorite.
Never have, even as a kid.
Instead, I’ve always loved color collaborations… the way hues play with each other; accent, augment, or mute one another; and even create the mirage of a third or forth color that doesn’t exist anywhere but in a pulse between the retina in my eye and the neurons in my brain.
It’s this ability of colors to evoke more than the sum of their individual values that interested Impressionist artists Georges Seaurat and Paul Signac. It became the basis of what was termed “pointillism,” a brushwork technique consisting of small, distinct dots of pigment on a canvas that form both an image and the illusion of a wider spectrum of tones than the artist has actually applied to the canvas.
Autumn… when chlorophyll packs it in and leaves the leaves, taking with it the emerald shades that have shrouded other botanical colors and hidden them from view… that’s when it’s Scarlet’s turn to shine. Ruby, too, along with Rose, Crimson, and Coral… plus all the myriad chromatic chimera of magenta, vermillion, carmine, and fushia created by the blending of glowing leaves set against smoke-and-ash skies and slate-gray tree bark.
At first, it almost seems like the leaves are blushing, embarrassed to be caught out in public without a grassy-green skirt…
Soon, though, other herbs will follow suit. They vamp and vogue, competing for attention and acclaim, and maybe a short-lived shot at immortality in the shadowy recesses of some audience member’s memory.
The reds of autumn—real and imagined—remind us that the world is still alive, even when it appears that everything is dying. Leaves are falling, days are getting shorter and darker and colder, and nature’s palette shifts perceptibly to the monochromatic for a while… yet, beneath white and silver, snow and ice, there is still a warm, beating heart.
What’s your favorite autumn color? Share a memory or a photo in the comments below!
[Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through the Creative Commons license: Steve Snodgrass, nubobo, Jason Hollinger, Quinn Dombrowski, AJ Schroetlin, Steve Grant, and Kristy Johnson. © 2017 Sidewalk Zendo. Reprints welcomed with written permission from the author.]