My Mom was an artist. She had a gift, one which some of her posterity have inherited to some degree or another – I much less than others. Part of her gift was an eye for color. Where I might see merely brown, she could distinguish the subtle variations and hues, and blend to make new shades. Her art went through many phases and multiple mediums through the years. She liked to take art classes through community education and even taught some herself. I remember her painting, making pottery and jewelry, drying and arranging flowers, and making porcelain dolls with intricate clothing. She was also an expert seamstress and quilter, her eye for matching and combining colors evident there as well.
My early childhood memories seem to be in black and white, perhaps because all the photos were. I do have early memories of turquoise, popular in appliances of the day which were in our kitchen, but also used in glazes and the real turquoise jewelry Mom created.
When I was 12, we moved to a new house which gave Mom the opportunity to decorate from scratch. The “quality industrial grade” carpet picked out for the whole house, which remained in two upstairs bedrooms until the house was sold because it never wore out, was a blend of browns and orange. Those are the colors I remember for years filling our home and Mom’s art. Mom’s earliest paintings were with oils and then acrylic, some of those being fall or desert scenes typical of southern Utah. Her paintings, along with some from other artists, covered our walls like a gallery.
The first painting to break the color mold, was a large seascape that was placed over the fireplace. Even it had a good deal of brown in the rocks on the shore, but the look was the first of the blue.
The Shift from Orange to Blue
Because it happened after I was married and immersed in my own life and family, I do not recall exactly when or how came the shift from orange to blue. With more money for remodeling and redecorating, Mom and Dad replaced the tan wood siding on the exterior with blue vinyl. With new off-white carpeting in the living room, Mom stenciled a blue design as a border on the walls. They put blue carpet in the master bedroom and Mom made curtains and a beautiful blue quilt to cover the bed. Blue wallpaper replaced the orange in the kitchen and bathrooms. When the younger children moved out, the largest bedroom downstairs became Mom’s Blue Room. It was intended to be a TV room, but after Mom passed away, Dad didn’t spend much time there. It was always Mom’s room, and always blue. A curio cabinet housed her dolls, those she had collected for years and the many porcelain dolls she had made. A collage of prints she acquired on trips covered the wall.
The shift to blue was accompanied by a change of medium as well. Mom turned to water colors, painting delicate flowers and winter scenes to replace the autumn ones. One of the now empty upstairs bedrooms became her studio. As her health worsened and became an excuse for not doing many things, she still found energy to paint.
Blue to the End
When we met with funeral directors after Mom’s death, they offered to get a nice casket spray of red roses. No! Though red roses are beautiful and this was a nice gesture, that was not right. We went to a florist and ordered one of delicate blue and white flowers. The shift to blue complete.