A splash of red can kill you

During my first few months exploring art, I drew everything exclusively in pencil, black only; most often I used a 4B or 5B pencil. There was a good and a bad reason for me to do this. The good one was a thorough sense of discipline, my saying to myself, “Let's get the hang of this wonderful basic medium here.” The bad one? “I'm afraid of color!” Or, to put it more concretely, “I’m afraid of not knowing what to do and how to do it, I’m afraid of missing out on important stuff, I’m afraid of being revealed as an ignoramus and a fraud. I want my Mommy!”

1303411-1591289-thumbnail.jpgBut eventually I faced my fear. When I finished doing an entire black-pencil sketchbook for my beloved night person, I started experimenting with colors. My wife gave me a useful piece of advice: “Use one color only at first, just to get the feel of it.” So I did: drawings in olive, in red, in brown, simple stuff like that. Then I started using two or more colors together.


1303411-1591290-thumbnail.jpgMy first color breakthrough was drawing a flower—not from a live flower, but from a photo by Irving Penn, simply because that's what I had at hand at the time. I started experimenting, did some perfectly awkward things. But that's the thing: a prerequisite to learning well and quickly is not being afraid of making mistakes, of going wrong. You need to suspend aesthetic judgments for a while—perhaps even forever, if these judgments are imposed from a polluted source, such as people's inane ideas of right and wrong. Or your own inane ideas!


It's not as if we ought to lead our lives with NO notion of right and wrong; on the contrary. But we need to be on the lookout for misconceived and fixed notions of which we aren't even aware. Every day, all day long, we're better off thinking or saying to ourselves, “Maybe I'm wrong, but this is how I see it.” This makes it easier to change our minds once new evidence comes into view. And by new evidence I mean "reality."