Color Research Investigation: “Voyager” Kerry James Marshall

This painting has been in my mind ever since I saw it for the first time.  In teaching art and teaching history through art, Jacob Lawrence paintings in “The Migration Series” was my only resource for quite sometime.  The repetition of color and imagery in each of the 60 panels is an excellent resource for narrative art.  The color of the Migration series can be dull and the imagery can be harsh, but the picture book and the story captivated students in drawing and collage.   In my transition and passion over the past five to show students more contemporary art, I was completely lifted and renewed to listen to a 2nd grade boy remark on his observations of the imagery in Voyager to ‘read’ the painting.  I specifically remember him noticing the skull below the boat and saying “There must have been many people who tried this before and did not make it.”  The cheery pinks, bright blues, multiple suns and healthy greens all pulled us in and then we begin to look closely.

Kerry James Marshall along with 10+ other contemporary artists have transformed the palette, content and intention behind my personal work and professional work since 2011.  Color is very powerful and KJM addresses his choice of colors in his mural at SFMOMA.  He chooses bright blues, cherry blossom pinks and spring greens to lure the audience into the mural based off of historic landmarks Monticello and Mount Vernon who’s founding fathers were acutally slave owners.  If you look closely the landscaping has african portraits createing the shrubbery and african heads as the dots for the dot to dots.   The painting  “Voyager” has the similar concept of using color to spark interest and then seeing the imagery of skulls, numbers, stars revealing there is more to the story.

In my color study of KJM Voyager using watercolors, I estimated the amounts of Red, Green, Blue of these three swatches.  I was excited to see mostly pigment can intensify the color to appear black next to others and dilluting the the other to pigments with mostly water can achieve swatches similar to KJM.  I look forward to using this technology to assist my palette in watercolor, acrylic + oil.

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Published by paigepb

Teaching studio art and online education. Embracing my new surroundings and exploring new challenges that develop my skills and pursue my interests. Thank you for stopping by artsaysthat!

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