Sequence of linked color pairs

(gradients and the void)

As I continue trying to create light, the next thing I find most commonly is that the colors essentially work in pairs. They interact spatially to form geometrical sequences of interaction.

In creating light, I find myself having to set up the colors to form centers in a field-like fashion. This works the same way that a sequence of centers can help to form and intensify a center. The gradient formed by the sequence of centers helps to make the larger center strong by focusing attention on the end of the sequence which the gradient points towards. Just so, a gradient of color, or a sequence of colors, or a second color in its impact on the first color, can make the whole thing glow. As I try to make the color glow with light, I have to work at this second color and the third, in their impact on the first.

We find a definite sequential structure to the hierarchy of colors. When inner light is present, the colors in the hierarchy have a definite spatial sequence, so that the eye moves through the thing from color to color, up and down the hierarchy. In each case, the spatial sequence is built out of linked pairs. We may think of them as arrows. Each color in the field is built as a reaction, or counterpart, to some other particular color that it works with, and forms a pair with. The pairs themselves are linked, and the network of linked pairs or arrows forms the sequence.

The way these spatial pairs are linked and form a kind of sequence is very much like the way that it happens geometrically, in the field of centers. Suppose, for instance, we have a room in which there is a tokonoma, and in the tokonoma there is a vase of flowers. There are three centers. The room center is linked to the tokonoma center and is intensified by it. The tokonoma center is linked to the vase of flowers center and is intensified by it. We experience a sequence of linked pairs.

It is not literally a sequence. There is nothing which says we must see the room first, or the tokonoma second, or the vase of flowers third. Nevertheless, there is this linked structure creating a kind of chain of pairs, and the intensity of the whole is made for us, by this system of linked pairs which keeps pointing and leading from one center to another.

That is how the colors work. Each color talks mainly to one other color above it, and to one other color below it. That makes the chain of linked pairs. It is very helpful, when painting, to concentrate on these pairs, because it allows us, with more intensity, to concentrate on the idea that each color talks to some other one — and by concentrating on it to make sure that it really happens.

Once again, it is easy to see how this series of sequences is connected to the field of centers. In the field of centers each center is propped up or supported by others. As a result there is a sense of orientation caused by the way each center supports another. That is what is happening in the color field, too. Each color helps to support some other color in its life or intensity, and each color is, in its own turn, supported in its life by yet some other color.

A rough rule that is often followed is: the more vivid or more intense colors tend to have small areas, thus be small vivid spots of color further down in the hierarchy. In general, there is an archetypal way of working that exists between two colors. Typically, we see a larger amount of one color, and then we see a second color, present in a lesser amount but more vivid than the first, and it is the second colors which seems to be “what the combination is all about”.

Thus the color pairs play a big role in forming the gradient, or arrow, that points to the heart of a given center, and gives it life. […] Like the hierarchy of colors, the sequence of color pairs helps to create the structure of the field of centers. Each pair which creates movement is a pointer in the field. The pointer is the gradient which actually creates the field.

We should not forget, finally, that the actual path of the sequence — the way the sequence of color pairs jumps around the page — is also important. When the path has a beautiful feeling, it jumps in an interesting way — in a cascade, or in a circling motion moving inward. A completely simple-minded movement inward is not interesting, and never holds the eye. A dull prison-like walk back and forth across the page is not likely to be interesting. The path which is interesting must be chosen to intensify the centers which exist.

All of this follows from the fact that in the field of centers, the way that a given sequence of centers works is most likely to create life when it forms some very large centers at the largest level. This corresponds to the glowing light which comes from the result of these color sequences. The way that a sequence of centers forms a more intense center — the way the sequence of color pairs really works — is reminiscent of the discussion of linked centers creating larger centers in gradients.

Again, the glowing light itself — which the structure causes — is surprising. Its unity seems to exist beyond the structure of the field which has created it.

(Pages 196-201)

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