Inspired by the Chroma

My trusty Tama To needs sharpening after the completion of my latest prints. (For new readers, this is a fabulous tool that cuts small circles in wood or linoleum.) Like my last huge square cellular print, I decided to run two different color series, and the result is two very different prints.

Elizabeth Busey. Ambrosia. Linoleum Reduction Print,
Edition of 13, (28 x 28in), 2013.

The block itself was inspired by the cellular structure of hardwood stems, in this case, the American Sycamore — also known as a planetree. The pattern is rather simple, so I wanted color to be the focus of these prints. In Ambrosia, I was inspired by a Mark Rothko color field painting owned by the Art Institute of Chicago. Standing before it in chilly March, all I could think about was eating a tangerine, with the juice running down my chin. Rothko didn’t seem to be inspired by this however, as he called his painting Untitled 1953-54. I always feel that a boring title is a missed opportunity to connect with the viewer.

Elizabeth Busey. Planetree of St. Stephan. Linoleum Reduction Print.
Edition of 13, (28 x 28in), 2013.
Planetree of St. Stephan uses an entirely different color palette. I was inspired by the Marc Chagall windows in the Church of St. Stephan in Mainz, Germany. The church was almost completely destroyed in World War II, and it took until the early 1970s for the officials in Mainz to convince Chagall to begin replacing the lost stained glass windows. This is the only church in Germany that contains Chagall’s work. Chagall finished nine main windows for the church before his death at 98, choosing a range of blues to represent a reconciliation between France and Germany, and between Jews and Christians. When I visited this church, I found the atmosphere ethereal, as if the space held more than just the chemical elements of air.Planetrees are common throughout the world, often used to line roadways because they provide shade and withstand the abuses of pollution and soil compaction. What if their very structure was suffused with Chagall’s prayer for reconciliation?

I used to stand before the creations of color field painters like Rothko and wonder — why is this art? Why is this hanging in a prominent museum? Perhaps these artists are asking you to set aside themes, realism, pattern, and just experience the color.

What color moves you?

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