COLOR SENSE...

Color is a primary (pun intended) part of my textile design.  Each pocket square is block-printed with ink and then hand-dyed.  I’m drawn to super-saturated hues, and high contrast palettes because I have partial colorblindness, or Protanomaly, which is rare in women, about a tenth of 1% worldwide.  I'm less sensitive to red, making its intensity hard to see, and shades of colors are difficult to tell apart.     In first grade, our school nurse at Jack Jackter Elementary School tested each student for vision problems.  Part of me was excited, as I'd been coveting my friend's eyeglasses.  I wanted a pair with speckled frames, and also: braces on my teeth.  I thought both were cool glittery extras, like my slap bracelets and headbands.   I peered into the vision tester machine, and answered the nurses’ questions. When I complained about the slides looking ‘shaky,’ the nurse said, “Stop leaning against the table, then.”  After reading a chart of letters spelling no words, I was back in my hard, slippery desk chair, staring out the window into the courtyard where our school mascots, two fancy male peacocks, and one dusty female, strutted, roosted, and ca-cawed in rapid succession.

Color is a primary (pun intended) part of my textile design.  Each pocket square is block-printed with ink and then hand-dyed.  I’m drawn to super-saturated hues, and high contrast palettes because I have partial colorblindness, or Protanomaly, which is rare in women, about a tenth of 1% worldwide.  I'm less sensitive to red, making its intensity hard to see, and shades of colors are difficult to tell apart.  
 
In first grade, our school nurse at Jack Jackter Elementary School tested each student for vision problems.  Part of me was excited, as I'd been coveting my friend's eyeglasses.  I wanted a pair with speckled frames, and also: braces on my teeth.  I thought both were cool glittery extras, like my slap bracelets and headbands.  

I peered into the vision tester machine, and answered the nurses’ questions. When I complained about the slides looking ‘shaky,’ the nurse said, “Stop leaning against the table, then.”  After reading a chart of letters spelling no words, I was back in my hard, slippery desk chair, staring out the window into the courtyard where our school mascots, two fancy male peacocks, and one dusty female, strutted, roosted, and ca-cawed in rapid succession.

Later that night, the telephone rang and I heard my mother’s serious voice with the long Oooo’s in “Noooo!” and “Elizabeth!” called until I came. “The school nurse said you're the first colorblind girl in the history of Jack Jackter! She didn’t know girls could be colorblind until your test results. But I think you just don’t know your colors right, yet.” “Do you get glasses for that?" I asked. My balloon of hope was deflating.   “Did you fail on purpose?” My mother asked. I shook my head no. Her eyebrows said she didn't believe me. “What color is our house?” “It’s light blue,” I said. The same as the hazy Connecticut sky. “It’s gray! It’s not blue at all,” she said.  My mother reassured the nurse that I was just confusing the names of my colors, not the colors themselves.  Growing up, she’d approve my school outfits the night before to make sure they “matched,” which was just the beginning of my fashion faux pas, as a tomboy with a penchant for bolo ties and Umbro shorts year-round

Later that night, the telephone rang and I heard my mother’s serious voice with the long Oooo’s in “Noooo!” and “Elizabeth!” called until I came. “The school nurse said you're the first colorblind girl in the history of Jack Jackter! She didn’t know girls could be colorblind until your test results. But I think you just don’t know your colors right, yet.”
“Do you get glasses for that?" I asked. My balloon of hope was deflating.  
“Did you fail on purpose?” My mother asked. I shook my head no. Her eyebrows said she didn't believe me. “What color is our house?”
“It’s light blue,” I said. The same as the hazy Connecticut sky.
“It’s gray! It’s not blue at all,” she said.  My mother reassured the nurse that I was just confusing the names of my colors, not the colors themselves.  Growing up, she’d approve my school outfits the night before to make sure they “matched,” which was just the beginning of my fashion faux pas, as a tomboy with a penchant for bolo ties and Umbro shorts year-round

I started my design path studying printmaking with Barbara Duval at the College of Charleston, learning monotype, intaglio, lithography, and woodcut, all taught using black inks and neutral or white papers.  I went on to become a TA and Printmaking Instructor at my Alma Mater, and began exploring color in print during in my free time.  While painting a monotype of the outdoor Alexander Calder sculpture, Stegosaurus, where my wife and I exchanged our vows, a fellow teacher, Cliff Peacock, came in the studio and pointed out, “You know, it’s not about the color you put down.  It’s about the color next to it, the color that follows.”  He took my brush and replaced my true-to-life orange oil paint for the sculpture on my palette, with a purple that came alive.  For the first time, I understood color could be felt, improvised, and imagined.  Life was not about matching, or about how I was supposed to see. Color, like art and much more in this buzzing universe, was subjective, an experience.  

I started my design path studying printmaking with Barbara Duval at the College of Charleston, learning monotype, intaglio, lithography, and woodcut, all taught using black inks and neutral or white papers.  I went on to become a TA and Printmaking Instructor at my Alma Mater, and began exploring color in print during in my free time. 

While painting a monotype of the outdoor Alexander Calder sculpture, Stegosaurus, where my wife and I exchanged our vows, a fellow teacher, Cliff Peacock, came in the studio and pointed out, “You know, it’s not about the color you put down.  It’s about the color next to it, the color that follows.”  He took my brush and replaced my true-to-life orange oil paint for the sculpture on my palette, with a purple that came alive.  For the first time, I understood color could be felt, improvised, and imagined. 

Life was not about matching, or about how I was supposed to see. Color, like art and much more in this buzzing universe, was subjective, an experience.