You may have noticed… I’ve changed the name of my blog.  Now it’s called “Puddles and Yellow Hats.”  A little more interesting than just a day in the life of an artist.  This is my third post under the new title.  I am trying to write once a week.  So far, so good.

I thought the new title needed some explanation, so here goes.

Puddles are easy.  I live in puddles, quite literally.  My watercolour puddles are everywhere.  I paint in puddles and I make paintings of puddles.  I’ve been in them for decades, since I first picked up a brush as a teenager in high school and did my first watercolour painting.  Puddles have become a part of me.  And I like to call them puddles.  Not just water, or lakes, or oceans. There’s whimsy and fun in puddles.  It reminds me that the little girl is still inside, and she loves to splash around!

But the yellow hats… that’s something that became part of me, the stance of my spirit and the way I think, a little more unusually.  Definitely more reluctantly.  Fact is, I hate yellow.  It’s the one colour I’ve never been able to warm up to and for the longest time never tried.  Imagine. The colour of sunshine and I can’t warm up to it.  Hold on, have to stop and laugh at myself….

Anyway, my first connection with yellow, and especially yellow hats, came one night a long time ago.  A lifetime ago really.  When I think back to it, I see that there isn’t much of that person left that I was back then.   I remember I posted about it a few years ago, so here’s the story again.

Sadie, a Jewish grandma, lives in Miami.  She is taking her little 3-year-old grandson, Jacob, to the beach.  As they walk to the beach, Sadie stops at a shop to pick up beach toys and a sun hat for Jacob.  She buys him a cute yellow hat and puts it on him.  When they get to the beach Jacob sits in the sand playing with his pail and shovel, and Sadie sits down on a blanket a little further away.  All of a sudden, a rogue wave comes along and carries Jacob out to sea.  Sadie is in shock; the boy is gone!  Drowned.  Sadie stands up, shakes her fist toward heaven and yells, "How can You do this to me?  We worked so hard all our lives!  Raised three boys, two are doctors and one a lawyer!  How could You do this?!"
Suddenly another rogue wave comes along, and Jacob is dropped back onto the beach, completely unharmed.  Sadie looks at the boy, then looks toward heaven.  She looks at the boy again, looks to heaven, shakes her fist and says, "He had a hat!  A yellow hat!"

When I heard that story told, the person I was with leaned over and whispered in my ear, "That is SO you!" 


No kidding….

Another knock on my head about yellow came last April on a trip to Chicago.  While I was there, I went to the Chicago Art Institute because they were having an exhibition of Helen Frankenthaler’s work.  And if you know me, you know Helen F, along with Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Judy Chicago, are all big mentors for me.  I never met any of them, but either way their bravery, their creativity, and their strength all say a lot to me about what it means to be a good woman artist.

Anyway, I was wandering through Helen’s art show and came around a corner to see the words on the wall, “I Need Yellow.”  For the girl who hates yellow, it was jarring.  A bold, brash statement really. I thought I could do very well without that particular colour. But there were Helen’s paintings, lithos, abstracts all telling me otherwise.  There was no avoiding that someone was trying to tell me something and that Helen was the way to make it more likely that I will listen.

Helen Frankenthaler “ I Need Yellow” 1973

Helen Frankenthaler “ I Need Yellow” 1973

I came home from that trip and did a few paintings with the primary colour yellow. And it’s taking up more space in other paintings now, starting to play an important part.

6x8” Watercolour on board. Part of  Morning Brush Hour…

6x8” Watercolour on board. Part of Morning Brush Hour…

But things come along that take me back again and again to the yellow hat story.  And yellow hats have deep and wide meaning for me now.  My yellow hat means I am looking up too.  Just like Sadie. Expectant and demanding. I am looking up for answers and gifts and longings to come my way.  It is my perpetual stance as I work and wait and watch for things to come alongside. 

Fast forward to today.  I told my son that for my next birthday I want a yellow hat.  A big brimmed, loud, fabulous yellow summer hat.  And when I get that hat, I plan to wear it in all its glorious fun.  Helps to have a birthday in summer so I can wallow in all its joie de vivre right away.

Can’t wait to wear that hat.  Good thing my yellow hat has a wide brim. I’ll need a little shade while I look up into all that sunshine.