Color Makes My Heart Sing

When I was at Lyme Academy, studying for my BFA, my wonderful teacher Susan Stephenson asked my class which colors didn’t go together.  I thought (briefly) and answered: pea green and orange.  Buzz.  Wrong answer.  Correct answer: ALL colors go together.  Damn, I thought, I should have seen that one coming.  It was an important lesson to me, and eye-opening, and plenty of times since then I have happily placed pea green and orange together and been quite pleased with the result.

Susan Stephenson, 2014

Susan Stephenson, 2014

Susan has a show coming up.  See it if you can! – details at

I recently asked a friend what was his favorite color.  He thought for a brief minute and said, “I don’t understand the question.”

“You know, ” I said, “the color that makes your heart sing.  The color that makes you smile and feel warm.  The color that makes you happy.”  He still didn’t get it.

“I don’t have a favorite number, either,” he said, as if the two equated.

Wolf Kahn Barn Atop a Ridge, 1987

Wolf Kahn
Barn Atop a Ridge, 1987

It’s hard for me to understand people who don’t understand the potent emotional content of colors.  Physiologically, our eyes crave color.  My brilliant classmate Julia Buntaine recently painted her whole studio red.  Every single thing in it, including the ceiling and the lights.  Then she put red objects in there.  It was amazing to see the objects turn green in my vision, because my eyes so needed the complement of red.

Wolf Kahn Distant Shower, 2002

Wolf Kahn
Distant Shower, 2002

I’ve been winding down my final semester at SVA for a week or more, and now I’m completely finished except for graduation and cleaning out my studio. In order to counteract the stress, I had been sneaking out to see movie matinees to avoid thinking about art non-stop.  I can highly recommend Fading Gigolo, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Draft Day, and Transcendence.

But now that I’m free, I’m free to go back to looking at art.  And since today is a beautiful day in the neighborhood, I took off this morning for the Chelsea art district specifically to see the Wolf Kahn retrospective at Ameringer|McEnery|Yohe (  It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about Kahn’s new work, but this was a great opportunity to see some of his older paintings.  Talk about color!  Eye candy (in the best way), artgasm (always good), and a big grin on my face as I wandered around the gallery.  Also there was a puppy, which didn’t hurt.

Wolf Kahn Trees Turning Yellow, 2011

Wolf Kahn
Trees Turning Yellow, 2011

There are some fabulous books of Wolf Kahn’s work in case you can’t make it to his show, and I recommend buying all you can afford and leaving them open in your home or studio so you can surprise yourself with a smile.  I only wish I could show you more here. Check out the gallery website for a wonderful display.