Making screen prints I often
would gather the excess ink
into one large coffee can.
My prints might have three dozen
layers of color so the coffee can
was a mix of the rainbow,
one color neutralizing the next.
The contents of the can
a jumbled soup of mucky and
What had been jewel hues
when each pass of the squeegee
spread ink onto the print was
reduced to an ugly undefined mess
when stirred. It was the color of shit.
That resulting color, sometimes
known as a mother-color,
a backward facing color code.
This happens in the glass of water
into which a water colorist dips a brush.
What begins clear muddies.
So, you may wonder, did I toss
the bucket of nondescript hue?
Begin again with unsullied pigment?
Do you know the Tibetan Monks,
who upon completing a sand mandala,
gather the grains and pour them into a stream?
My ink was the blending of many colors
into no particular color.
I began the next artwork with that ink.
My fresh paper a stream.
The first layer of color was of all colors.
What followed was a path of colors
that returned the mud into
ruby, sapphire, and diamonds.
I purchased three gallons of paint yesterday.
I will begin painting the fresh canvas with mud.The Color of Mud