A Study in Colors and Mood

Back when I was in school for Digital Design, one of my assignments was to take two paintings and compare them. We were to describe the feelings that they invoked. I showed the following to my SL Mom, Alaina, and she suggested I post it on my blog to share with friends and followers. I decided to do this. The paintings I was analyzing is below followed by the study on color and mood. It gets pretty personal in parts, but she identified with it.

In 1889, Vincent Van Gogh created a painting that demonstrated his mixture of feelings of hope and despair. Since it is Relay for Life weekend, I’m still reeling from remembering my struggle with cancer. When I look at this painting, I see all of my fears, despair and hope for the future. I remember the words, “Diana, you have cancer” and how overwhelmed and terrified it made me feel. This painting has always struck a chord with me, but it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with cancer that I found out why. The swirls in the painting remind me of my chaotic feelings that day. The blues and yellows in the paint he used strike each other in contrast similar to the feelings of hope and despair, which is a contradiction of its own. The green hues bring a feeling of life and hope in contrast to the despair the blues brought out. Van Gogh did not paint his Starry Night piece for cancer patients but it can be applied to this purpose. Originally, he painted this piece to describe his own feelings of hope verses despair. He used the cool colors to combat the warm colors further cementing his inner conflict which can be reflected in the hearts of all cancer patients. When I look at the painting, I immediately feel the inner conflict. The blues battle the warmth of the yellows and the greens. The direct reflection of what I felt. I can feel the conflict. The overwhelming feelings that I felt that day and how I wanted the floor to open up a hole and swallow me up. The sweeping brush strokes in the sky reflected in the strokes for the village and green trees bring the painting together. It draws the chaos together, mixing the message that even through chaos one can experience hope for a better future. This year’s theme for Relay for Life was 100 years of Hope. To me this painting brought together the weekend that I just experienced. It brought the feelings of pain that I felt after my surgeries along with the hope that the doctor would say to me “You are okay now, Diana…your cancer is gone,” which he did in the early part of 2010.

In contrast to Van Gogh’s painting of despair and hope, I chose to look at Claude Monet’s painting, “Agapanthus” which to me shows a direct contrast to the chaos of the other painting. Whereas the blues and greens in the Starry Night painting makes one feel a chaotic connection with despair verses hope, this painting makes you feel nothing but hope. The painting focuses on nature. It pulls forth the feelings of fertility and life. Which is in contrast to the feelings that I felt when I was diagnosed. This painting is a direct opposite. It reminds me of the day my doctor cleared me of all cancer. How I felt a drastic relief from the fears that they didn’t get it all and the fear I had of death. The painting is mainly blues-greens and lilac colors with a splash of a purplish brown and several darker shades of blues in it. The strokes are a lighter feel and not as harsh as the Starry Night painting. To me it is a softer image and brings a long peace. It helps one feel more hopeful for a brighter future while the other painting makes one feel more chaotic and despairing of a better future. The two paintings side by side are a great contrast between each other. They are both very expressive paintings that use color symbolically to bring emotions to the forefront of different experiences from my past.

I realize the theme of my analysis is cancer, but this weekend I just finished was a very chaotic and emotional time. It reminded me of so much that I had forgotten. It also reminded me of why I relay each year. I was able to do the honor walk and attend the luminary ceremony. These paintings seem to tie the weekend together and expresses what I am feeling inside at this moment. It amazes me how I can “see” my own story reflected within these paintings even though they were painted well before my time.