I get comments a lot that mustard is “my color”. That it reminds people of me. Mustard? Really?? I used to think it was just because I had this mustard purse one time, and that those people were making a quick observation, but slowly I’ve come to terms–nay–embraced my association with the golden hue because I am just downright naturally drawn to it. Not because it is flattering on me (um, because it’s not), but honestly I think I started loving it long ago because of it’s natural beauty in a landscape–picture the bright fall leaves of a Quakie, or straw-colored tall grass of a rural field. Ha–and, as I type this, I have two landscape paintings above my computer, done by different artists, both with mustard-colored fields. And, another small painting of some figs, with a mustard background. Okay fine, and a picture of my hubs and me… in a mustard cardigan. Gah!
Whenever I think of the Utah landscape though, it is hard for me to get mustard–more specifically, the combo of mustard + deep mauve-y purple + dirty white–out of my mind… and I think I’ll undoubtedly end up painting this color scheme over and over again. I realize most people might think of the Utah landscape as it would be featured in a magazine spread–with blue skies and snowy mountains, or the beautiful browns and red rocks of the southern Utah national parks–but one of my favorite mental snapshots of the place I once called home is how the mountains and fields look just before the snow comes.
While I was in grad school, I worked for the most charming art museum in Springville, Utah (The Springville Museum of Art) as an outreach educator. Along with the usual museum experiences, I spent years driving with my co-teacher through canyons and navigating the back roads through the more rural parts of the state, to take art presentations and professional developments to every school in Utah. Sometimes it was a typical school in suburbia, and sometimes it was a k-12 school, off of unpaved roads, with fifty students total. One time, in a k-8 school with about twelve students, we found ourselves talking with the teacher about her unique challenges teaching at a school like that, while she was stirring a large pot of chili for the students for lunch. It was intriguing and inspiring to see how the role of education could be so diverse, all within the same state. And, since this job had us on the road nearly every day, it was equally as interesting to watch the diversity of the landscape out of the car window.
From Fall to Spring, you know the snow is about to start silently whisping through the air, when the sky turns white but dark. In this light, the mountains become mauve, and the branches of the bare scrub oak bushes are an even more deep, eggplant purple. Then, in the right areas, at the base of the mountain and the scrub oak, bam, there’s that mustard-y field. The blurred lines as you drive by create bands of stacked complimentary color, in perfect harmony and balance to each other. It’s a sight that is nostalgic to me, reminding me of those years I spent teaching and traversing the Utah landscape. No doubt I will continue to paint it again and again. (On that note, there is likely another mustard scarf in my future as well…)