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Mother Pointillist

Is it really more windy in Autumn? Or do we just notice it more, with leaves blown around? Even the old, shedding pine needles are showering down with every gust, making the air shimmer and dance. Out for a walk, I feel energized by the brisk, bright weather; as the wind pushes me, I feel almost as though I could spread my arms and fly away.

Leaves everywhere have given up their chlorophyll, revealing that glowing spectrum of fall colors that was masked when the business at hand was photosynthesis. Summer's green, restful and sheltering, has given way to high energy color. But there's something else adding to the wildness, besides the energy of the wind, and of the color — something a bit more subtle.

Have you ever examined a painting by one of the Pointillist school? Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, Camille Pissaro and others were a group who took Impressionism one step further. The Impressionists used brushstrokes of colors that were not obviously part of a scene, but which when combined produced a more vivid impression of the effect of light. The Pointillists used very tiny brushstrokes: points. Dots of contrasting color were juxtaposed, producing an impression of other colors.

In addition, making the areas of color so small somehow makes the whole composition shimmer with energy. You can see this effect that dots have in other ways. In a Pakistani wedding I saw in a movie, the bride had gold paint in arches over her eyebrows — but the arches were composed of dots, not solid lines. It looked like her eyes were radiating magic.

In a garden bed, a line or area of plants that grow together create a stable feeling. If the plants have space between them, they become dots: rhythmic, high-energy punctuation.

As the leaves turn and fall, the whole landscape goes pointillist: instead of a mass of one main color, the leaves create contrast between small pieces of color, repeated dots in our field of vision. Everything participates: even green grass provides contrast as leaves cover it. The scene is jumping with energy.

Soon, with Mother Nature in her winter period, the view will be full of soothing, neutral tones: all the subtle palette of browns, beiges, tans. Little contrast: even dots of falling snow fast become a gentle, unified expanse. But for ushering out the growing season, Gaia's style is electric.

© Copyright 2003 Catherine Holmes Clark

Published in the six Nashoba Publications papers on Friday, 7 November 2003

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