26 September 2015


by Andy Weddington
Saturday, 26 September 2015

"When bananas blush, they turn brown, not red. And when tomatoes blush, you've probably said something really naughty." Jarod Kintz

For today a short and colorful but not naughty commentary.

Before even a teenager an uncle tagged me with the moniker "Andrew H. Brown." To this day, I do not know why. Andrew is not my formal name. H. is not my middle initial. Brown? No idea. And when Google came about I searched for a famous Andrew H. Brown. No luck. But from my uncle's head and off his tongue rolled the name.

Anyway, the moniker held and my uncle shortened it to "Brown" whenever addressing me. One of my aunts (uncle's sister) sometimes uses it. Other than family no one knew, until now.

Yesterday, for whatever reason, that moniker popped into my head - while sitting on a sofa with a sketchbook and a box of 8 Crayola crayons atop the coffee table before me.

So, I did what any logically thinking normal person would do. I grabbed the sketchbook and box of crayons and headed for the dresser mirror in the bedroom. And with the crayon labeled Brown, I made the below self-portrait - now titled "Brown In Not Brown."

'Brown In Not Brown'
Crayola. Life size.

The title brings me to the colorful part of today's commentary.

Brown, as I teach, is not a color. Brown is a neutral. And it comes from mixing colors - namely the primaries yellow, red, and blue.

Yellow, red, and blue - when mixed in pairs e.g., yellow/red; yellow/blue; and red/blue - yield secondary colors orange, green, and purple.

So, all anyone ever needs to know about color is the three primaries and that a secondary is the add mixture of two primaries. And the complement of a secondary is the primary not used in the mixture - e.g., yellow and red yield orange with blue the complement; yellow and blue yield green with red the complement; red and blue yield purple with yellow the complement.  

Complements, when aside vibrate and when mixed neutralize.

The simplest way to yield the neutral brown is to mix a bit of the secondary green (or blue and yellow) into the primary red. The result is not brown but what a painter describes as a middle value dull red.

Color is no more complicated.

So the self-portrait titled 'Brown In Not Brown' - which sounds more intriguing than 'Brown In Middle Value Dull Red' - now codifies my alias.

Uncle Jay, I'll never forget. You, too, Aunt Cathy.

Sincerely, Brown.

Post Script

Black, too, is a neutral - yielded by mixing primaries yellow, red, blue. Gray is but a variant of neutrals brown and black.

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