CONES. No, no! Not the delicious wafer or waffle ones in which we eat ice-creams. These are the light sensitive neurons present in the retina. Why did I invoke the essence of Biology? To emphasize how cones are specialized for color vision and sharpness of vision in bright light. Color. A seemingly simple yet profound English word, probably even considered the essence of life.
Everywhere we look around us, the world has been splashed with color. Right from color-coding Chemistry notes to painting a room in a house, colors play a major role. It may be safe to assume that the visual arts are almost incomplete without this factor. Artists use color to bring out different emotions in their work. A painting is generally a composition of several colors which bring out the artist’s imagination on canvas. Nature is a work of art, with her grandeur and beauty making an impeccable impression on every person who sets his eyes on his surroundings. Well, how exactly did colors rise to significance?
Some of the most famous paintings are those found on the walls of the Ajanta caves in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Since the decline of Buddhism in the 7th century, these caves remained buried in the Western Ghats until they were accidentally discovered in 1819. The magic of art, however, only remained dormant over a century. Till today, the paintings on the walls of the caves remain vivacious, retaining their color and clarity. Till today, the hues haven’t died out, the tones haven’t faded. What form of paints did the artists of the seventh century even use? Research suggests that the pigments used were of the simplest kind of materials including yellow earth, red ocher, green rock, brick dust, lamp black and copper oxide. These components on inter-mixing gave rise to a wide array of nearly permanent tones which haven’t lost their vivid beauty till today!
When one talks about art, the primary thought that strikes a person is that of Paris, and Musée du Louvre, in particular. The grand museum boasts of a collection of nearly 35000 objects and 8 million visitors a year. The paintings in the Louvre Museum are of global importance, having been immortalized in the pages of History textbooks and in the minds of art-passionate individuals alike. The Louvre is home to a wide variety of paintings, right from “The Lacemaker” by Johanes Vermeer, the smallest of his paintings, to Paolo Veronese’s “The Wedding Feast at Cana”, the largest painting in the museum. Naturally, several of Leonardo da Vinci’s marvels adorn the walls of the Louvre, including Mona Lisa and Virgin on the Rocks. All these paintings bear a stark similarity, the wide array of colors used intelligently to produce eye-catchers, head-turners and brain-ticklers.
As though these examples weren’t enough to convince one about the need for colors in this world, the artist Milind Mulick’s works are gaining popularity today. His astounding ability to reproduce nature’s beauty onto paper with a few strokes of his brush make his works a class apart. His most preferred medium of painting is watercolor, a rare choice over oil paints and poster colors. However, he has the ability to create wonders with a single color, be it pencil or charcoal, by sketching the most intricate scenes in monochrome. This is truly art, a form which, despite lacking colors, is powerful enough to captivate its viewers and making them take in all the minute details.
As paradoxical as this may sound, I conclude by saying that colors certainly serve as an effective medium in paintings, however monochrome definitely lacks no majesty. It, too, like all other works of art, captures the interest of the viewers. As Einstein beautifully puts it, logic takes you from A to B, but imagination takes you everywhere!