Hot and Cold

hpt pepper red

Hot pepper red - 2010

We just spent 10 days in the upper Midwest where it was mostly cold and rainy — so different from the heat and humidity of the tropics.

We all experience hot and cold, and often associate certain subject matter with each. For example, an image of a snow-covered field can evoke feelings of cold, while a sun-drenched beach may suggest the warmth of the sun.

Of course, just color itself can evoke the physical feelings of warmth or cold — even in the case of a subject like the palm, below, where one would otherwise think of warm tropical surroundings. Is this dissonance between subject matter and color temperature disturbing or interesting?

ice palm

Ice Palm - 2010

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8 Comments on “Hot and Cold

  1. “subject matter and color temperature” is a mystery. Would a frozen chili pepper make one think of heat or cold? … or a penguin wearing sunglasses? … or a pineapple lying in the snow?

    Blue can go either way most of the time for some reason.

  2. planetross! Such profound questions, and in fact it is a bit of the mystery that one can play with to make a point. And blue? I never really thought of it as one of those “go either way” things. hmmmm… I’ll have to study on that.

  3. It’s always been a curious thing to me that red is a descriptor of hot and blue as cool or cold. I think, in a post modern world, we can have additional meaning as well. Red can mean affected and blue–at home and relaxed.

    Your work is stunning. I enjoy the “hot pepper red” as a wonderful abstract painting and the energy of the second as a grand mix of abstraction and contemporary realism.

  4. Or blue as spiritual and ethereal, and red as more earthy and sensual…

    Thanks for adding some new perspectives, Melinda, and for your appreciation!

  5. Both pictures are a wonderful explosion to the senses! Sizzling hot and piercing cold! Most people are drawn to warm colors. I notice in my work that people almost always prefer the warmer pictures (I still paint mostly cool pictures anyway) No matter what subject one chooses to portray, I think people will feel warm or cold depending on the color choice. The artist is in control. I think the dissonance would be more disturbing in representational subjects. A sailboat scene on a sunny day painted without any warm colors would be confusing to the senses. I agree with Melinda that these pieces are very abstract and you have “made” us feel a certain way when looking at them rather than disturbing our senses.

  6. Thanks, Catherine. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. As for people prefering “warmer” pictures… I have noticed something similar — that pictures with a bright splash of red or red-orange somewhere are more likely to sell, all else being equal. Funny but sometimes predictable beings, aren’t we?

  7. I really like the colours and balance of the first shot. It makes me think about what sort of photos Eward Weston would’ve taken if he wasn’t so caught up in making tight images and shot in colour.

  8. Thanks, razzbuffnik… Weston was always one of my favorites from that era, and he might have worked in a looser style had he lived and worked today.

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