On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Claiming my colors

In Juvenile Hall I meet up with young gangsters with strong affiliations. It saddens me when middle school kids tell me of the time an older group of students confronted the youngster with a defiant, "Claim your colors!" -- and the response, red or blue, had to be stated and it better be the color of the gang doing the recruiting.

Often the kids are very proud of their gang affiliation. Recently a rather brazen high schooler informed me that her plan was to run from the treatment program a judge assigned her to and to join the Mexican Mafia. This hurts me deeply.

Color, to me, used to be a positive notion. If you asked me about my favorite color I would proudly announce Yellow. Judging from the responses I get, yellow seems to be a least favorite for most. But I like to think it suits me, that I have a particularly sunny outlook most of the time unless I've hit a dark patch of deep purple. If I knew you as an artist I would answer differently. To you I would say, New Gamboge. To me, New Gamboge is the quintessential color of fall. It's yellow, yes, but has a tinge of something dark. It's not a scary or negative dark, it's just a hint of depth that I find particularly appealing. I even like the sound of it, the way New Gamboge rolls around my mouth before I let it out. New Gamboooooooooge, with a long o and a soft French g.

Similarly with green. For the most part I don't really appreciate green very much. But I make an exception with Hooker's green, a deep, dark green with depth that Mr. Hooker himself developed a couple centuries ago. It's darker than the green surrounding this funny cow -- she's obviously remembering something amusing -- and is a shade I really like.

I'm sorry the kids have chosen to taint their world with negativity in their color choices. I dislike making announcements during their art programs, "If certain colors have particular meaning to you, please don't use them here." Colors have enormous significance to me in the depth they invite and the emotion that's aroused. But my colors, New Gamboge and Hooker's green are enlivening, not used to threaten children or invite trouble.


  1. Awwww...he's such a sweetie =) I like it! Makes me happy just looking at him.

  2. He's an awfully cute cow.

    I really don't have a favorite color, but if I had to choose, I think it might be Payne's Grey, because the dirty little secret is that it really isn't grey at all - more like a smoke blue.

  3. Yes, Alex is right, he is just as cute as can be. You have a very demanding job working with those children. It must break your heart sometimes. Your are an angel! nancy

  4. Thnaks for visiting my blog tonight.
    I really enjoy the way you write and I love what you have to say.

    We just moved back to Rhode Island after being in central CA for 16 years. Even though it seemed like paradise,gangs were surely prevalent there and it was all new to us.

    I noticed lately on my morning walks on the local bike path that there are new "taggings" obviously spray painted by gangs. My friend was shocked when I pointed this out to her.
    In Barrington??? Yes, in a town near you. Your town.

    When I wear baseball caps (pre-shower during my walks) I'm careful choosing the color. So sad to even have to think of this.

    It's a different world, but one I still enjoy being a part of ;)

    By the way, I love the dog sketch below.


  5. Thank you, All!

    Alex -- it's a SHE! But thanks!

    Dan -- Payne's Grey, great choice!

    Nancy -- Not you folks have me wondering, maybe it IS a he!

    Laurel -- You do develop an eye for such things (tagging), don't you? I no longer buy red jackets for my daughter....

  6. Cute drawing, whichever sex it might be! I've worked with troubled kids too. It does break your heart!

  7. Thanks for visiting my Carny Dog blog Barbara. Yours is fascinating. My favorite colors change constantly. You would think being a photographer, I'd have some definite opinions but I suppose I like them all in the right context.

  8. Cute cow! Azo yellow in a lightish wash and cobalt or cerulean blue are my favorites along with umpteen others.

    It's a shame a girl would want to join such a gang. There is just no future for her yet she doesn't see that. I can see how it would hurt you to see the attitudes knowing they only lead the kids down the path of nowhere good.

  9. Very interesting post. I just love color. And I especially like yellow, but not for clothes for me. But turquoise is my new favorite. I like the combination of warm and cool mixed up together.

  10. Thank you so much for visiting, you last four!


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