Art is: Albert Lea area has plentiful color options

Published 9:00 am Saturday, September 16, 2017

Art is by Bev Jackson-Cotter

How lucky we are to live in Minnesota. Where else could you sit in the same place every day and view the seasonal changes of color — from the cold and snowy whites and grays of a winter snow drift, to the bright pinks and yellows of spring tulips, to the sparkling blue lakes of summertime, and then the faded greens and brilliant reds and golds of autumn maple trees?

Bev Jackson Cotter

My favorite place is a window overlooking Bancroft Bay on Albert Lea’s Fountain Lake. Every day the view is different.

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I was there recently enjoying an early morning cup of coffee. You could not ask for a more beautiful scene, unless maybe you think Minnesota lakes are boring. I counted 14 egrets, numerous mallards — there are some little ones out there who are far too young to fly south — several pull toy rows of Canada geese, an armada of pelicans, one lone great blue heron and even a snow goose. I don’t know why they all chose Bancroft Bay for their leisurely morning, but I’m glad they did.

These autumn days are different from any other time of the year. In September there seem to be changes every day. This particular morning, the sky was a brilliant blue and its reflection on the surface of the water was broken by little sparkly ripples and the large, dull lime greens of the algae that has summered here. In July and August the algae was a bright and brilliant lime color. Now it has become almost a light brownish, pale green. The ducks and geese don’t seem to mind. They are feasting, obviously enjoying and even occasionally fighting over a particularly tasty morsel. It’s surprising how noisy they can be when they disagree.

Today, if I were to paint this scene and choose colors for my palette, I would have to consider the various birds — their tans, blues, browns, blacks, whites and occasional oranges, and their slightly faded reflections in the water; the sky with its tufts of white clouds, the water as it mirrors the sky, as well as the trees along the shore; the shadows cast by the foliage; the colors of the algae; the weeds growing along the shoreline; the downed and dead tree trunks on the island across the bay and the changing colors of the autumn leaves that range from dark green to brilliant gold.

Do I need tubes of all of these colors, or can I start with only a few and mix and blend as the need arises? I think I’d choose the mix and blend method.

I read recently how the paintings, sculptures and lithographs in the Egyptian tombs and on the temple walls were done in a factory — assembly line manner with someone sketching the pictures, then the next person formalizing the drawing; someone else carving the outlines and later another painting the figures and scenes. Thus there were no individual artists remembered in Egypt’s history, but their stories live on through their creative endeavors.

Interesting, but I wander.

Yesterday I ran across a book called “The Secret Lives of Color” by Kassia St. Clair. It’s described as a paint box of cultural history, a character sketch for 75 individual shades — a kaleidoscopic gem for history buffs and artistic souls.

The last thing I need is another book. My shelves are full and I’ve run out of room for bookcases, although I do have to admit I’m not as bad as a friend who emptied most of his kitchen cupboards so he could use them for book shelves. However, “The Secret Lives of Color” intrigues me. I think I’ll order a copy. How fun it will be to learn how colors affect history.

Maybe I could even figure out why I am so hooked on the colors of Bancroft Bay as they are touched, each and every day, by Minnesota’s seasons.

Bev Jackson Cotter is a member of The Albert Lea Art Center, 226 W. Clark St. in Albert Lea.