Photo from Pixabay

When I was 3‑years-old, my brother was born. When my mom went into labor (of course, in the middle of the night), I was dropped at the neighbor’s while my dad whisked her to the hos­pital. The next morning, my kind neighbor asked if I wanted an egg for breakfast. I gladly accepted, but the only egg I had ever eaten was scrambled, as that was my father’s pref­erence. I still remember that fried egg, with its yolk a far deeper yellow than I had ever expe­ri­enced. I was entranced. Thus, began my fas­ci­nation with color. 

My dad sold and ser­viced com­mercial signs for a living, so I was inter­ested in let­ter­forms from an early age. A spiral-bound volume with dif­ferent colors of type over dif­ferent colors of back­ground (that my dad had for dis­cussing choices with clients) fas­ci­nated me. I still have it. 

When I grad­uated from the Uni­versity of Michigan with a degree in psy­chology, I was rather at loose ends, and so returned to school at Eastern Michigan Uni­versity to earn an art degree. It was at this point that my father asked what took me so long to do what I really wanted to do. 

My first semester, I took the equiv­alent of Hillsdale’s History of Art, Renais­sance to Modern, Basic Design. Sud­denly, all my coursework on per­ception, sensory func­tions, and visual thinking had a much more prac­tical appli­cation. I was hooked. Mixing colors for my Basic Design final project, which took about 180 hours of work, was pure delight — except for that pesky deadline. 

As time went on, I delved into water­color painting and into tex­tiles, where my love of color could express itself through pattern devel­opment. Weaving allowed me to work with color as a physical object, choosing red yarns to place next to blue yarns to allow the eye to blend them into violet. Printing fabric yardage with complex hue, value, and intensity runs gave me an oppor­tunity to explore my knowledge of color theory with sheer layers of fiber reactive dyes. My fas­ci­nation with layers, and their ability to both hide and to reveal, led me to make art quilts. 

I’m still dyeing sheer fabrics, and lay­ering them to create complex color arrange­ments. I can’t imagine not making art. God created us in His image, which I think means he wants us to create, too. And if you are strug­gling to find proof of the exis­tence of God, I can’t imagine any­thing more con­vincing than color. We live in a world with color: What a miracle that is. 

Barbara Bushey is a pro­fessor of art at Hillsdale College 

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