Blogs, new artwork, and other updates from sculptor Douglas W. Merkey

Thought-provoking blogs, links, new artwork and other updates from sculptor Douglas W. Merkey.

Bring on the color!

I can really relate to photographer Jad Davenport’s artistic journey from a black-and-white to a color aesthetic:

I didn't set out 20 years ago on a quest to photograph the color of the sea. I'd spent the previous decade photographing wars and genocides from El Salvador to Iraq, documenting what felt like a million shades of gray on black-and-white negatives. I was just back from documenting the war in Kosovo when a sympathetic editor offered me an assignment in the Dominican Republic, for a travel magazine. "Just bring me back some pretty pictures of the sea," he said.

I took the assignment. I brought color film. I went snorkeling, drank rum, and swam in the sea. And I came back with pretty pictures.1

Like Jad, most of my sculpture up through my mid-40s lacked color. It’s not that I didn’t like color, I just didn’t do anything to alter the natural colors of the wood, bronze, and clay I used in my sculptures. During those same years, I was also involved in some very hard vocational contexts and other difficult life experiences…not exactly photographing wars and genocide like Jad, but experiencing much hardship nonetheless. So, in some ways, I felt the gnawing ache of a life lacking in “color” overall.

And then, around age 45 or so, I literally declared, “I am going to explore color!” This was more than an aesthetic decision. It was a life decision. It involved making some significant changes across my life - from monochromatic living to more color-full living. By God’s grace, new worlds - colorful worlds - have opened up to me. This website is a testimony to how color has shown up big time in my sculptural life.

In fact, I felt I needed to write about this because I just finished my most color-full piece to date: Ribbon Candy (thanks to my buddy Paul for the name). It’s got more color and more POP than any sculpture I’ve ever created. I even used a high-gloss finish to accentuate its “pop!” I still enjoy the natural tones of unstained wood, and of bronze and clay without a patina, but I’m so grateful that God’s been opening up my art and my life to the wonderful world of color.

Doug MerkeyComment