Initially, I did a version of this project while on a month-long residency at the Vermont Studio Center in November 2014. It was like my morning mantra.
Everyday. A color.
For me, it was about the action of painting and implementing a routine. But it was also about connecting to a place, a community and recording my time there.
I walked to the only hardware store in town, half a mile away. There was melting snow on the ground and bright green patches of grass exposed. I picked a piece of grass and took it in to match it with accuracy to a paint chip. I walked back to the studio with my quart of Lucky and began. The following day I did exactly the same thing, but with Yellow and then Wintermint, then Teardrop, followed by Pumpkin, then Indigo, and so on for 28 days. I thought as much about name and the language around a color as I did about how it referenced the weather, or a conversation, or a meal. I painted the wall, the stool, and the door as a tabletop. Then masked off a strip on the left and right before painting the next color to preserve a slice of that day’s color.
When Kelly Inouye contacted me about working out of her storefront project space on Irving Street in the Outer Sunset for three months, I accepted with enthusiasm. I was looking for a space to work that was outside of my house. A place I could create a routine. I planned to sit at a table looking out the window and make drawings. But when I visited the space and had a conversation with Kelly about the community that exists in the Outer Sunset and how the beach is right there and how the sun is setting right there and how incredible the bright orange of it is. And how this neighborhood is known for its grey and its fog, how color pops like crazy amidst it.
And I thought, I want to try this all again, here amidst the grey and the fog, with the beach right there.
Everyday, a color.
I don’t typically do one project twice. But I loved the idea of creating something that changes everyday I am there. And that the people passing by walking their dogs or on their way home, will be surprised to find that yesterday’s yellow like oxalis is now lime green like the fence. I had imagined that the execution of this project would be a solitary one, even though the entire process is visible through the large front windows. It would be about labor, time, color and the neighborhood.
And then four days before I was set to begin, I suddenly lost a dear friend, Susan O’Malley. Faced with an immense loss and a white space, I painted the first layer hot pink, for Susan, and left it that way through the following week. Another good friend of Susan’s, Christina and her family came in to help. It glowed. And painting the space felt like something good in a time that nothing else really did.
There have been eight layers of color applied since hot pink for Susan and I have received several visitors that have picked up a brush and helped paint. The space is small, so there is not enough room for a group of people, but it is very nice to have the company and interest of many, young and old, during this time when the world is as it is.
The other day, I overheard a man telling his friend as they passed, perhaps thinking we were a shop trying to open if only we could decide on a color. “Yesterday it was yellow, they can’t decide”. Another gentleman stopped in, explaining he was trying to convince his wife of a new color for the kitchen, and if I were willing to paint this space that color, she could see it works! Mr. Rose, your Gardenia is coming soon.
Kelly, your support and enthusiasm are beyond appreciated. Thank-you for making this space, where you make exquisite watercolors, available to artists like me to execute projects, even if paint drips on the floor and the space might become ever so slightly smaller, one color at a time.
Leah Rosenberg, “Everyday A Color” will be on view through May 30, 2015. Gallery hours are 12pm to 5pm, Monday- Friday, but are subject to change throughout the course of the residency, so please refer to www.irvingstreetprojects.com for updates. The project is unfolding on instagram @leahmartharosenberg or @irvingstreetporjects, #everydayacolor.