Grey…is it a colour !


Grey…is it a colour !


If you ask me about hairdressers, I’ll tell you they are my joy. Especially when you find a good one… or a tribe of them like I have. As an artist there is nothing better than having a hairstyle or colour to set you off on a creative mood… I’ve been luscious purple, yuk green, boring brown, rock star blonde, old school pink ‘n peach and most recently, my favourite, Stick-Out Red.  But now during lock down, I’m blandly, awkwardly, distinctly Two-tone… sitting somewhere in the middle of nothing and nowhere… Grey.!   

It’s a colour that society defines as ‘aging’.

At fifty-something I’m half way through living a joyful life, if my precious friend Nancy (97) is anything to go by… and I still, like any artist want to be seen for the vibrancy of me. Not boxed into a colour that seems to look like my now 80 year old mum. (Sorry mum).

So today, I’m unpacking that dilemma…  Now, considering my hairdresser has always sponsored my look and taken time and care over lifting my mood and hence my creativity in exchange for my investment in theirs… it’s still something I will never take for granted. Since lockdown has throat-cut any form of income for us both, and further prevents me from gathering them in my studio for creative team builds, I’m faced with the question of Grey. ..a beyond my control kind of Grey. And that’s cool. I like a challenge. So here goes…

According to my rather voluminous Colour Source Book “Grey is defined as the dulling of white. It is produced when two complimentary colours are mixed. It has no compliment, since it is its own compliment. Grey has neither positive nor negative connotations as a colour”…

So in other words invisible right?

Ok so there’s always monochrome.. And that can be quite beautiful. Especially if you trace it back to the twelfth century stained glass in monasteries, where certain holy orders forbade the use of colour. This style of Monochromatic painting in shades of grey became known as ‘Grisaille’… which to me sounds remarkably similar to the hard parts you avoid on meat.

Look, if Pablo Picasso can be inspired by monochrome as in his ‘Guernica’ (1936)… perhaps I can too. However, to me it’s a rather a hard and edgy painting that almost looks like a dramatic walk down memory lane …

Can you see a pattern here!?  

It’s the same with landscape painting. When you want to tone down the joy or vibrancy so that a colour may shine, what do you add alongside…? Grey. … Not red… grey.

I have a sense I’m starting to panic. ..

So I Google…

’Grey’ it gives me a screen filled with blocks of different (boring) shades and tones ….  So I try ‘Grey Joy’ images of a Game of Thrones hunk appear (not my type)….I type in ‘Grey hair’ and immediately wish I hadn’t done that!  Every image a completely luscious head of silvery hair cascading about equally youthful looking faces.  This doesn’t bode well for me, since teenagers claimed a look I was trying my best to embrace. I remember a friend throwing out half her wardrobe at 50-something the minute her son commented she was starting to look ‘like mutton dressed as lamb’. I threw half my clothes out last week. The pipes in the roof froze, then burst, drowning them all. I threw half of my clothes out mainly because I’ve got larger… and grey !

Actually Google is amazing and always delivers the best stories, which instantly improve a grey this one:

A woman was taking her late husband to the undertakers. He was wearing his best suit, a charcoal grey suit. The woman knew it was her husband’s dying wish to be buried in a blue suit, something that they had never been able to afford when he was alive. So, she told the undertaker about her husband’s wish, acknowledging that she couldn’t afford a new suit, and she asked him if there was anything he could do.

The undertaker told the widow that he would do what he could and to come back in three days. When the widow returned three days later, she found her husband in his coffin, wearing a stunning blue suit. She was overcome with gratitude and asked the undertaker how he’d managed this. The undertaker replied, not half an hour after you left, a lady brought in her late husband, who was wearing a blue suit. She told me how he’d always wanted to be buried in a grey suit, but she couldn’t afford a new one, so I told her I’d see what I could do and to return in three days. After she’d left, I checked and he was about the same height and build as your husband so I swapped the heads.

It’s Tuesday out there… Pensioner’s day… So I’m off with my head to mingle in the aging crowd.


GuernicaPainting by Pablo Picasso