For the last six weeks I have been sharing my conviction that studying art provides us with the opportunity to “see” the Creator as we learn to see His creation. In each post I have featured one of the visual elements. I have both explained it and shown it used effectively in works of art. Additionally, I recorded the spiritual insights I have found from my own efforts to capture and teach that element.
Today we will turn our attention to the element of COLOR. We know from science that COLOR originates in a ray of light. Light is made up of six distinctively different color families (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet). Of course, within each family, one can discern many various hues, but for our purposes at the moment let us consider just these six.
When light hits an object some of the color bands within the light will be absorbed and others will be reflected. Those colors which are reflected will enter our eye and make an impression upon our brain which then identifies the object as that reflected color. So the color that we see is actually a reflection of light.
If the quality of the light changes, colors will also look different. We are all familiar with the maddening experience of trying to match up colors in a store with fluorescent lights so that we get what we expected in the sunlight or with our homes incandescent lamps. Even more, an artist experiences a similar thing to color on a gray, murky day; under a winter sun; or during a golden, Indian summer day. The three paintings above do a beautiful job of capturing the qualities of the different light sources.
As I mentioned in earlier posts, we are reminded frequently in scripture that God is Light. So here are a few things that we can learn about God from color:
1. The unique beauty of each and every object of creation is the result of a relationship to God and the reflection of His qualities.
2. As God is ONE, a single unit, His character comprises many qualities such as goodness, purity, eternity, justice, mercy, truth, love, and so forth just as many different hues exist within a single ray of light. Each of those qualities can be recognized and appreciated for themselves, but none of them exist except as a reflection of Him. He is the source of all.
3. Once we begin, as artists, to actually manipulate color, we discover some more insights:
a. We know that when we attempt to mix pigment we must start with the three primary colors of red, yellow, and blue. They make all of the other colors, but more importantly—no other colors make them. We have to get them from a natural source.
b. Likewise, as Christians, we believe that God (while ONE) is comprised of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those three, while able to operate independently, always operate in communion and in harmony with each other. Nothing has made them. They are eternal, but together they make all of the laudable qualities that I mentioned above.
c. I think that even the three colors that make up the primaries are insightful. Yellow is reminiscent of the gold of God’s throne. Blue reminds us of the peace of the Holy Spirit. Red echoes of the blood of Christ’s sacrifice.
To make sure that we didn’t overlook the mystery of color, God told us in Genesis 9:14 that when we see the rainbow in the sky we should remember Him. How much more of an invitation do we need to think on these things and delve into the mystery of COLOR?