Our art group meetings have recently been focused on color…One of the recent “invitations” for contemplation, prior to working, was to try to sense a color that “speaks” to us, in some way, that stands out for us, calls to us. This particular invitation to work was made as I was reading the final pages of THE MAN OF LIGHT IN IRANIAN SUFISM, by Henri Corbin, who drew from early Persian authors in considering color. A number of the early Persians viewed color, as an experience of light, as something carried within, as well as existing outside of us:
“The perception of color is an action and reaction of the soul itself which is communicated to the whole being: an energy is then emitted through the eyes, a spiritual energy that cannot be weighed or measured quantitatively.” [Corbin, p. 141.]
According to this view, the experiencing of color is an experience of the reunion of “the two fiery lights issuing the one from Heaven, the other from the earthly person…”
I have for many years experienced fields of color as transcendent, delicious, nutritive. It was a new thing to consider the possibility that I contained that transcendent deliciousness within myself, and that, rather than passively SEEING color, my inner being was RESONATING with it. What a yummy possibility: color as reunion with the transcendent.
As I meditatively approached this painting exercise, I was sensing RED—vibrant, powerful, the world of RED outside the body—reaching for, and resonating with, the RED held within a “being of light”…As I worked in watercolor, the wonderful bleeding of the “world of RED” across the boundaries of the being of light seemed to express that liason the Iranians spoke of, for me.
As I sat with the painting and sensed into the richness and power of the “world of RED”, I sensed that, as a world to itself, it had language…so I added the word-like forms into its folds.