What Color Is The Night Sky?

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The other night as I stood outside on the porch and looked upward, I thought of color. Usually we think of the night sky in deep tones… midnight blue, navy blue, ultramarine, with perhaps some velvet black thrown in. But gazing upward I saw the silver pinpricks of stars, and a trace of misty white as clouds floated across a finger clipping of pale moon. And, yes, there was a plane returning from some faraway destination, its lights blinking red.

The English language can be frustrating, contradictory and often peculiar, but it really is a wonderful one in which to describe color. There are so many ways to define any hue—red never has to stay a prosaic red but can morph into scarlet or crimson or ruby or magenta or even, if so inclined, go pink. Green, on the other side of the spectrum, can slide into emerald or lime or fern green, forest green, jade green, hooker’s green, shamrock green, teal, or olive. And so it goes.

Just as an artist uses brush and paint to find the exact color wanted, writers use words to get the same effect, and indeed poets would be at a loss without it. Sylvia Plath’s “Sheep in Fog” and  Robert Browning’s “Meeting at Night” rely on color to create image-filled verse. And those are only a few. I vividly recall Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” and Basho’s simple but very powerful haiku:

Slender, so slender

Its stalk bends under dew…

Little yellow flower.

            Describing color can be a challenge, too. Take a misty morning like the one that enveloped us at Emerald Isle yesterday. As I walked on the beach, mist hung about sand and ocean giving everything an effect of translucent gray. But amidst the gray there were variations. The breakers cresting near shore were pale, almost silver. A flock of pelicans, flying low, were gunmetal gray shadows, and a lone fisherman was an ash gray silhouette. Sand, always contrary, obstinately clung to beige tones.

After the subtle shades or gray, I returned with some relief to my work in progress, a study of three trees, one of them cut down with a new green shoot to symbolize rebirth. I have collaged the two standing trees in bold colors which probably would never appear on a tree in nature. Yet the colors have blended, strongly suggesting the vigor of the Life Force.

Collages are fascinating things, and the process usually takes me days and many snippets of fabric. There is always that moment when I find the perfect bit of fabric and also when nothing seems to fit. But eventually, the work is done.

Whether we work with brush or with words or camera or simply enjoy the natural world around us, I believe we all, in our own way, are artists. We enjoy the bold or subtle colorations of that world— and we all look up with wonder at the night sky.

Can you taste moonlight?

Does warm  sun shimmer on  leaves?

Magic surrounds us!

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About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: maureen@wartski.org/ My blog is here: http://maureenwartski.wordpress.com/ Or friend me on Facebook!

4 responses »

  1. Dear Maureen,

    I see you picking and choosing just the right colors and fabrics for your collages. The one in this blog is really magnificent. I suggest you enter it in an art contest. While your writings have always, it seems, been descriptive and elegant; your art work is reaching new heights with each creation.

    Keep them coming. Love Fran

  2. Maureen,
    I don’t believe I ever thought of tasting moonlight, but as I reflect, I believe its taste varies depending on the spit and vinegar of hurtful words cast upon others or the honeycomb sweetness of good deeds done anonymously, in addition to all actions and reactions sent into the world. Are we responsible for the taste of the moon? It seems likely to me. I’m hoping there is a way to purify. Most likely, forgiveness restores the taste to its original flavor. Ahhhh, there is always hope.

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