Blue Morpho: Transformation in Color

First published: “THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR & LIGHT: The Liminal-exhibition-artists reveal palette & setting secrets!
by Jennifer Gillia Cutshall

One day, I took a picture of my wife and cat asleep on our sofa. I showed the photo to my wife, and she said, “If you’re ever looking for inspiration, there it is.” She was right.

Gustav Klimt’s painting “Woman with Fan” immediately came to mind when I thought about the blank walls behind my wife. It was the perfect opportunity to paint without a preconceived plan. I could allow myself to be guided by my own internal images and symbol making and as an opportunity to explore some of my own inner workings and imagination.

Blue Morpho” oil on canvas, 193 x 212 cm, 2021

The background walls of “Blue Morpho” became dominated by yellow. I became aware that the colors yellow and red are not generally the predominant colors in my paintings. I think this is because I tend to paint from Nature, and She is green and blue in my mind. However, I almost always create an underpainting that is mostly pink, red, and yellow. These colors provide an active contrast and shimmer to the greens and blues of the overpainting. I also noticed that yellow and reds dominate paintings I have done of interior scenes. I consider myself more of an introvert and am attracted to the cool and calm of blues and greens. Perhaps the more extroverted parts of myself lurk in the background, in the underpainting, and only peak through the foliage. Yet, when I paint an interior space, I am painting those parts that are concealed or looking for integration in my psyche. The interior space then becomes my innerscape.

The view to the outside takes us to the blues and greens of Nature as though the window serves as the liminal space between my inner self and my outer self. Yet the birds looking to the inside are mostly red and yellow—the colors of joy, passion, and freedom. I did make a conscious choice about the red color of the fabric over the sofa. I had just completed a series of paintings about Ariadne and incorporated in them the red cape worn by Dionysus to symbolize the red thread she used to help Theseus escape the Minotaur in the labyrinth of spacetime. Red is the color of magic and the courage of the hero/heroine in the legends of the hero’s journey (seen as a spiritual journey). She later became the wife of Dionysus, who was the God of spiritual ecstasy and transformation.

For me, the panting has a sense of repose and other worldly feel about it. I hope it transports the viewer to a place of their own fanciful imagination.

“Magical blooms of color from Stephen Linsteadt’s maximalist masterpiece.” ~ Jennifer Gillia Cutshall


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