January 19, 2017

"Color Speaks: Works by Alison Palizzolo"

January 30 through March 17, 2017

Reception for the Artist: Friday, February 10, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

The Derryfield School Lyceum Gallery proudly presents Color Speaks, stunningly bright and colorful paintings by New Hampshire artist Alison Palizzolo. “Color is to visual vocabulary as words are to auditory speech” says the artist and her work reflects that sense. Color Speaks will talk to its viewers with work that is playful and experimental. Alison says “My artistic decisions are rooted in color theory, drawing upon color’s rich history and from the doctrines of scholars such as Aristotle, Newton, Goethe, Munsell, Albers, and others.”

Ms. Palizzolo grew up locally in an artistic household, and began taking art lessons at the Currier Museum of Art at the age of seven. She graduated cum laude from Keene State College in 2009 with an individualized major in art history and a minor studio art. During the summer of her sophomore year, she obtained an internship at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, which led to a full-time position. In May 2016 she was promoted to public relations coordinator. Ms. Palizzolo says for her, “Creating art has always been my greatest passion, studying the history of art is a close second.”

The works Ms. Palizzolo will share with the Derryfield community are comprised of a series entitled Single Breakthrough, which is to be viewed as a whole and then as a microcosm. The artist uses a consistence of ratio and compositional formula, and style in her creations in order to “facilitate the viewer to focus on color as the subject and medium. I believe the use of these unifying characteristics will enable a true artistic exploration of color. Allowing the viewer to fully consider their innate emotional and intellectual responses to various hues.”

The observer is encouraged to first “explore the series as a whole and then contemplate them as individual works of art. When displayed in a group, the paintings are meant to speak to one another. Individuals will naturally be drawn to color schemes that ignite a conscious or subconscious reaction. It is necessary to examine which hues generate positive responses and why. Alternatively, the viewer to also consider why their perception of certain colors motivate a negative reaction.” Each larger 18x24 inch painting (3:4) is accompanied by a 3x3 inch (1:1) mini painting, created from the same palette as it's larger counterpart. The microcosms test how our visual perception of identical colors can be altered by a change in scale. The microcosms are also meant to provide another possible point of entry into my work. Hopefully, they too will spark conversations centered on color perception and communication.”

In her work, Ms. Palizzolo is searching for, what color theorist Josef Albers described as, the “magic of color.” Albers writes "In order to use color effectively it is necessary to recognize that color deceives continually.” Palizzolo’s paintings are “experiments in color communication, how our eyes interpret the language of color to our brain, and the resulting emotional reaction or intellectual response.” Experience for yourself the magic of color and how it speaks!

Color Speaks runs from January 30 to March 17, 2017. All are invited to a reception for the artist Friday, February 10, from 6:00-7:00 p.m. (snow date March 15, 6:00-7:00 p.m.) in The Derryfield School's Lyceum Gallery. Live music by Derryfield student musicians, and refreshments will be provided. The Gallery is open weekdays, 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. To learn more visit The Derryfield School's website or email lyceumgallery@derryfield.org.


Color is to vision as words are to speech. Our eyes are vehicles through which we interpret the optical language of color. In my work I am searching for what color theorist Josef Albers described as the “magic of color.”

Color is the real subject of my work. My paintings are meant to be playful and experimental. My artistic decisions are rooted in color theory, drawing upon color’s interpretation and usage throughout history and from the doctrines of scholars such as Aristotle, Newton, Goethe, Munsell, Albers, and others. I contemplate both the writings of color theorists as well as the historical development of the color wheel. My paintings are experiments in color communication: how our eyes interpret the language of color to our brain and the resulting emotional reaction or intellectual response. They investigate how colors speak to each other (and the viewer) on a two-dimensional surface as well as how texture, movement, composition, and scale effect the way color is perceived.

Examining color through the lens of abstract painting presents both challenges and advantages in terms of viewer accessibility. My stylistic choices are secondary to my use of color as the subject and medium, but are also important in laying the groundwork for each piece. Stylistically, I am exploiting the "comfortable familiarity" of post-impressionism, abstract expressionism, and geometric abstraction. I am stylistically referencing these popular movements in an attempt to capitalize on their renowned effectiveness and to guide the viewer to a convenient point of entry. Allowing the eye to easily transition from reading the image as a whole to absorbing its details.

My paintings are meant to draw the viewer in and invite close looking. The "organized chaos" of my work is meant to reflect the structure of modern day life. Fast-paced and technology driven, our social construct is always changing but never slowing. Art is a constant in human history and as society evolves, so, too does art. Through the use of an all over painting technique, I am aiming to give the viewer cause to stop, and really absorb what's in front of them and provide an escape. An escape not necessarily from reality, or from what is in front of us, but from the buzzing world around us.

As in many styles of artistic expression, a single work of art can evoke different emotional or intellectual responses from each viewer. The same can be said of color. I believe that color can only be truly explored through abstraction, because color itself is an abstract notion. My fascination with color lies within the likelihood that no two sets of eyes will ever perceive one color in exactly the same way.

"And even
if that round red Coca Cola sign with the same white name in the middle
is actually shown so that everyone focuses on the same red,
each will receive the same projection on his retina,
but no one can be sure whether each has the same perception."
—Josef Albers, Interaction of Color, (1963)

December 21, 2016

Rich & Cool

Rich & Cool, from the Single Breakthrough series, 2016, heavy body acrylics mixed with ceramic stucco and iridescent medium, 18" x 24".

December 9, 2016

"Homage to Goethe's 'Theory of Colours' (1810)"

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was a German writer, politician, and scientist. He is most often remembered for his two-part tragedy Faust, part I was published in 1808 and part II in 1832.

In 1810 he published his Theory of Colours, which was his analysis on the nature, function, and psychology of colors. He was the first to systematically study the psychological effects of color. He was ahead of his time in many ways, though his treatise was widely disregarded. Goethe anticipated Edwald Hering's opponent process theory (1892), which is the foundation of complimentary colors. In Theory of Colours Goethe wrote,
"The colours diametrically opposed to each other in this diagram are those which reciprocally evoke each other in the eye. Thus, yellow demands violet; orange [demands] blue; purple [demands] green; and vice versa: thus... all intermediate gradations reciprocally evoke each other; the simpler colour demanding the compound, and vice versa."
Another significant inclusion in Goethe's doctrine was his disagreement with Sir Isaac Newton on the subject of light and by extension darkness. I will return to this controversial idea in a future post.

I painted Homage to Goethe's 'Theory of Colors' (1810), in response to Goethe's writings on the psychological effects of hues, tints, and shades. The colors in this painting are my imaginative perceptions and initial reactions to his recorded philosophies on color, and the human psyche's visceral reactions to it.

Though repudiated by most of the science community, many artists and philosophers like Phillip Otto Runge, J.M.W. Turner, Schopenhauer, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Wassily Kandinsky adopted his theories. His Theory of Colours served as the base on which future color theorists would build their own treatise.

Homage to Goethe's 'Theory of Colors' (1810), 2016, heavy body acrylics mixed with ceramic stucco and iridescent medium, 18"x24".


December 7, 2016

"Interactions with Peach"

Interactions with Peach, from the Single Breakthrough series, 2016, heavy bodied acrylics mixed with ceramic stucco and iridescent medium, 18" x 24".

November 16, 2016

"Munsell's Magenta"

In Munsell's Magenta I am referencing and further exploring Professor Albert H. Munsell's (1858-1918) color system. Albert Munsell was an artist and professor at the Massachusetts Normal Art School (now MassArt). Munsell first started to work on his color system in 1898, his findings and theories were published in 1905 in his book A Color Notation (he went on to publish two more books on his theories). Munsell recognized the need for a more formulaic way to describe color to his students, he felt traditional names were "foolish" and "misleading." He wanted to bring clarity to color communication by establishing an orderly system for identifying every color that exists. He based his system on what he defined as "perceived equidistance" -- the human eye's perception of color. His color system specifies colors based on their hue, value, and chroma. Names like red-orange, aqua, and yellow-green don't exist, instead you will find 10GY, 5RP, 5G, 10P, etc. I am being playful by using "magenta" in the tile of this work, something that I hope Professor Munsell would find amusing.

You can thank Munsell for the way we match and describe color today. He was the first to combine science and art into a single color theory. Because his theories are based in the science of human visual perception it has outlasted many of its contemporary color models and is still in use today.

Munsell's Magenta primarily draws from the following complimentary colors on Munsell's 2D wheel:

            (5GY)                          (5P)                         (10GY)                         (10P)                          (5G)                            (5RP)

Munsell's Magenta, from the Single Breakthrough series, 2016, heavy bodied acrylics mixed with ceramic stucco and iridescent medium, 18" x 24".

November 11, 2016

Pastel Workshop

I recently went to a pastel workshop at the Sharon Arts Center in Sharon, NH. It was the first time I had been in an "art class" type environment since college! I had a great time and picked up a few new tricks. It was also an opportunity to work from still lifes, which I don't typically do! Of course, as you'll see below, I couldn't help starting an abstract piece!

Fall, 2016, pastels on sanded paper.

Fall, 2016, pastels on sanded paper.

Apples, 2016, pastels on sanded paper.

Apples (in progress), 2016, pastels on sanded paper.

Abstract Pastels I: Lime Green & Magenta, 2016, pastels on sanded paper.