Houdini the cat aka Rosso

Here we are with orange, a startling or subtle mix of red and yellow. I like orange as much as any other colour, but I find oranges difficult to paint, so I need to concentrate on that some more. I think that using orange means being able to use a subtle or strong greyish blue or greenish grey, dark blue, to make the orange sing.

Stepping away from painting, I am reminded of oranges.

In Jamaica, where I was born and we lived for a while, our oranges were actually greenish or yellowish. It took me years to actually trust the oranges that I found in the supermarkets of Canada, the United Kingdom or the United States. As a child at school I would whisper my doubts. They have been dipped in that dreadful bright orange colour, just for people who don’t know what a real orange actually looks like. Of course oranges need a touch of cold to snap on the colour gene. I didn’t know that until amazingly recently.

I also remember my father saying how he always looked forward to Christmas to winter, because the citrus fruit came into season. He was English, so his citrus fruit most probably came from the Mediterranean. I don’t know. All that I do know is those blood oranges … I was very suspicious of them too. You open one of those and they surprise you with ruby red. I think I would have felt a lot different if they had been marketed as Ruby Oranges, and not Blood Oranges. In Italy, of course, where they are grown and were first discovered, they are called anancia tarrocco.

I had an orange dress once, but I think that on someone who was taller it would have been an orange skirt. I wore it tied under the armpits, leaving my shoulders bare. This was the dress I wore to my brother’s first wedding. The one I remember where our father was left off the speaker’s list. My heart bled for him that day. But I was toughing it out, even smoking black cigarettes with gold tips. I was lucky, I had a friend in Canada who laughed at me every time I pulled out one of my special smokes to light up. She had her own daughter, about my age, so she knew how to handle a starting smoker. I thank her too when I think of orange.

Orange is the light the flutters across the sky in a sunset, depending on where on the globe you are sitting it can stop you in your walk for an hour or so, or a brief few seconds of holding your breath.

There is a lot of orange in my paintings, but I can tell you I don’t go out purposely looking to make orange. It somehow seems to have to land there when I have stepped away to answer a phone call, or return from having put down some hay for the horses. How did that get there? I ask myself.

As I note, remembering, around Lago di Bracciano, where I lived for a while, there were dark green-leaved trees and their fruit was bright orange that glowed. These are the Spanish oranges, or as we know them in Jamaica Seville or Swivel oranges, which make good marmalade.

The painting of the Colosseum in Rome, was painted from a colored pencil sketch that I made sitting on a wall right next to the ancient building. I sometimes like to paint in this way, they brush strokes may look as though they have been put down quickly, but they have actually been painted with thoughtful care … almost a meditation, which somehow ends up as though you are looking at something from a fast moving vehicle … perhaps named time.

Colosseum, Rome.

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