Through most of my life the wonderment of the color wheel never seemed to bless my soul. Autumn, which is supposed to be a time of great beauty, holds leaves of gold, burnt umber and majestic rose tinted leaves only ever managed to raise a slight meh of my appreciation. The state of metamorphosis from vibrant life to unequivocal death barely registered on my magnificent scale. Summer with it’s kaleidoscope of reds, cyan, goldenrod, magenta and pumpkin hued flowers, while I do enjoy the palpable fragrance they emit, never seemed to excite me with the veritable rainbow essence of confetti that makes up the jubilant flora.
People would talk about the stark contrast of a brick red fire truck parked outside of a cobalt blue station that it was housed at. Thinking them very unobservant, I would comment on the difference between the sleek chrome and ultra polished paint job of the fire engine against the coarse and abrasive stone building that the truck did mask. How could they fail to notice how different yet complimentary these two objects were?
In the summer I would always be one for a long stretch of camping with friends in the ever breathtaking lands of the rugged Smokey Mountains. Whilst on long hikes through the towering giant oaks and pines, people would ooh and ah over the earthy evergreens enshrouded by lime green moss and scarlet lichen. But all I could notice was the shag carpet like growth that encompassed the trunks of the fissure etched bark. Entranced, they would peak through the olive canopy to glimpse a sky of the purest cerulean blue. Mesmerized as well, I would instead focus on the whistle of the wind rushing by the trees as it stirred the long decayed and brittle leaves and swept them up so they danced upon the air in miniature cyclones. The cool crisp night was a time when we could all agree that the majestic midnight black sky was very well complimented by the twinkle of the purest white stars shining ever so brightly above.
And so my life went on, always wondering why people were so fascinated by matching colors and what paint scheme would mesh well in their newly renovated kitchen. Did they fail to notice that the true beauty in the world was the textures and patterns of every little object around them? Sure, bricks were red, big whoop, but the graininess and sponge like pores comprising them was where the real beauty lied. Lattes may have neat swirls of brown and white in them to create a little heart, yet their inner depth was the rich earthy aroma and mixture of tantalizing sweetness of the cream and the razor sharp bitterness of the espresso bean.
In the fall of 2004 I began my journey to college, pursuing a career as a photographer. My focus was black and white film, because to me nothing could show true depth and beauty in a way that was as ageless as the gods. To become a master photographer I first had to endure every aspect of the artist world, no matter how drab some realms were. Color Fundamentals made up one part of my core classes. It was the art of effectively mixing paints and learning how certain colors would excite ones emotions. To me the world of colors was about as magical as a lump of brittle black coal, but I would endure it for the greater good. The concepts were easy to understand, yet when I turned in my first project I was given an F. Was it my ability to paint? Could you see the brush strokes? Was my gradient scale not a scale at all but a Mount Vesuvius like disaster? “Not at all” my instructor informed me, it was because you were supposed to use green paint and instead you used red.” Using the defense that they hey, the colors are basically the same, what was the harm? My teacher gave me an odd look, pulled a stack of cards from his desk and instructed me to look at them. Going over each card I looked at very similar circles made up of a multitude of dots in varying sizes. He then asked what numbers I saw in each circle. Thinking that this must have been some type of joke that I was to dim to get I gave a light hearted laugh and said “Why none of course.” With a slight frown upon is face my teacher asked if I knew that I was color blind before taking his class. “Now that’s up surd, how could I have made it so far in my life without knowing if I could see colors?” I asked. “It’s interesting to say the least,” he said “But the cards are made up of multi colored dots with numbers in each one. And if you are color blind you’ll fail to notice them.”
This news rocked my proverbial world yet at the same time it made sense. The universe was not a flat toned place soaked in a sepia tint. It was my eyes that were coated, a small genetic flaw that created this unique effect. When a friend would point out that I was wearing a periwinkle pink shirt with vibrant orange pants and neon purple shoes I would just smile and say “I was just seeing if you would notice how bright I was today, and you did not disappoint.”