The Suitcase Lady


January 21, 2020, 8:32 pm

We are decidedly in the thrall of the gray time of year…gray skies and snow covered with gray road sludge. Even our beautiful Lake Michigan often sheds its blue for shades of steely gray.

Perhaps it is a good time to think about the color gray and discover some of its more positive aspects.

Needless to say, gray is not for extroverts. But one of my favorite art professors, an unassuming, gentle man who painted almost exclusively in shades of brown, put gray in perspective for us art students one day. “Nothing is lovelier”, he said, “than when my wife wears a gray dress with a bright red scarf.”

Another example of gray’s contribution to subtle beauty can be found in what is called black and white photography. It’s the myriad shades of gray in these photographs that make them so elegant. Gray does not scream at us but is surely capable of creating drama. Every photograph by Ansel Adams and other masters of the media attests to this.

A similar effect is achieved in the ancient art of Sumi painting. A simple cake of black ink, water, a mixing stone and brush are all that is needed to make images of plants, animals and landscapes. The results are magical: we view the paintings as highly realistic reproductions of nature, but rainbow hues have been entirely eliminated.

Gray can be a trickster. Our first home was owned by an architect who had painted his studio gray. When we moved in, we wanted to paint that room white and bright yellow for our young daughter. Four coats of white paint were necessary to get the walls white, proving that gray also can be extremely assertive.

We are surrounded in our current home by many lovely grays, but here are our favorite ones.

2 Comments for this entry

  • A weiss

    I recently experienced the many shades of gray when I was picking out paint to match some tile. Who knew it was sometimes closer to purple or blue than what I considered gray.

  • everobillard

    So very interesting. I agree with your comments & observations . . .