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The Colorful Art Of The Prismatic Series

In June, my family visited Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. It was our second visit to the park, with our first visit a few years ago. On both occasions, the colorful life of the geysers basins inspired me to paint. I wanted to create colorful art.

On my first visit, my new painting style had not yet developed. I tried to capture how I was feeling with traditional techniques, but I was not satisfied with the outcome.

After the second visit in June, we came home, and I tried once again to paint what it made me feel. The vibrant, natural colors of the geysers amazed me. When attuned to nature, I reflected on our journey through this colorful life; how we play many parts and how what we learn from each role carries through to the next.

In the Prismatic Series, I explore not just the colors, textures and shapes that I saw in the landscapes of the geysers, but how it makes me feel.

Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Spring

Sightseeing in Yellowstone National Park can take a while. The park covers nearly 3,500 square miles. It is impossible to appreciate all of it on one holiday.

After a few days, we switched accommodation choosing to stay at a place closer to another entrance. That way we could walk and enjoy a different trail without spending too much time traveling.

When we went in June, we walked along four trails. The sun feels much hotter in Wyoming. We had to wear much sunscreen. I think the steam particles amplify the sun’s intensity. Our favorite trail brought us to the Grand Prismatic Spring.

The geyser basins were impressive. The natural colors were pure and bright. It looked otherworldly. Amazing. Words do not do it justice. I cannot adequately describe how it looks. I must paint and use my art to express how it made me feel.

My Journey With Colorful Art

The first time I tried to paint how the geyser basins made me feel, I still used traditional Chinese painting methods. In traditional Chinese paintings, the ink owns the rice paper and color plays the role of a guest. Even though I had begun to experiment with color, my new style was not successful yet.

Blending slow drying acrylic Chinese painting colors with ink allows me to create colorful art that echoes the natural colors of the geysers. Colors such as:

  • Indigo.

  • Umber.

  • Carmine.

  • Cinnabar.

Chinese painting colors created with minerals and herbs use different glues to western watercolors. It allows the paint to dry slowly and when combined with the color pouring technique, I can take my time to achieve a desired effect with the dry ink brushes.

I layer some paintings in stages and not all in one sitting. The first layer must be almost dry before I start the next one. Layering gives the painting depth, dimension, and helps to achieve effects.

Before I start painting, I like to reflect on how the experience of what I am painting makes me feel and what it means. The paper may lie on the table for days. Once I have a concept, I go straight to my workspace, relax and begin.

Discovering A Truth Through A Colorful Life

As with abstract art influenced by Impressionism, I aim to express my thoughts and inner emotions through color and form without depicting an exact likeness of the object.

Artists in ancient China, including the Song Dynasty, also shared this method of inner expression. By integrating themselves with their subject, they could share their inner emotions and find their true selves.

This belief of nature, art, and the self is an organic cultural process in China; a philosophy that passes from parent to child, teacher to student, and it carries forward into the person who becomes the artist. By reflecting on the geysers, I attuned myself with nature to discover this truth about the different roles we play in life.

In life, we take on many different roles. In these roles, we gain experiences and knowledge. The first role we assume belongs to the family; we begin life as a child. We may then become a sibling, a parent, and a grandparent.

Career-related roles also add to our body of knowledge. We might begin our working life as a fast-food restaurant worker or a construction worker. We might then become an accountant, a lawyer, a designer or an artist after completing a student’s role.

Every time we switch to a new role, we learn new things. However, we retain the knowledge and experiences from previous roles. We build on those experiences, and they become part of us.

The Colorful Art Of The Prismatic Series

In the Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park, the different rainbow colors represent different types of colorful life.

Likewise, in the Prismatic Series, as seen in Prismatic 1 and Prismatic 3 and all their abstract colorful art variations, each color also represents a different role in life. The picture is complete when we have been through the various stages of life and fulfilled our different roles.

Life Becomes Colorful With Experience.

No matter which stage or what role we are currently in, the future is always mysterious. When I looked into the deep blue basin of the geyser, this is what I felt. The deep blue seems full of mystery, its depth, and detail unknown.

When we visited Yellowstone, my son, Brian, took photos of our journey and the geysers. I extract aspects from these photos to include in the Prismatic art series. They also serve as visual accents.

When I reflect on the Grand Prismatic Spring, I see many different elements combined with a mysterious center. The elements represent our experiences and roles. The center symbolizes the future, mysterious yet hopeful.

By combining Chinese painting colors and ink with abstract art, influenced by Impressionism, my new colorful art style has given me a way to express my inner spirit. My life experiences and roles, past and present, allow me to find my true self within nature.

Shulin Sun

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