Blue: Guest Post by Susan Reep

July 19th, 2011

What an apt theme for the month! The great painter and art teacher Josef Albers said “Color is like cooking. The cook puts in more or less salt, that’s the difference!” I think the cook put more salt in this Moorish tile because it can sure jiggle your eyeballs. Some of that salt was the color blue.

While I admire those who trend on the “less” side, thinking less is more, I tend to think if some is good, more is better. I got to see lots of this amazing tile work in March on a trip to Morocco and Spain, and as a photographer, I took hundreds of photos of course – but my aim was BLUE. More BLUE! The reason was simple – my daughter wanted blue photos for her walls. Since blue has always been my favorite color, I was up for searching out BLUE.

You know how giving yourself constraints in your work can amp up the creativity? Like grabbing a handful of magazines and doing collages in your art journal, constrained by using only what you find in the magazines? Searching out BLUE sure gave me a focus for photography and it made an already thrilling trip even more exciting.

I found lots of BLUE – but what did it all mean? What is it about BLUE? It’s the color of optimism – sunny skies are blue skies. Irving Berlin wrote the classic “Blue skies, smiling at me; nothing but blue skies, do I see.” Water is blue and calm; stormy waters are grey and green and black. Blue bloods are of the upper class. First place takes the blue ribbon. Brides wear something borrowed, something blue – blue for faithfulness and loyalty. And men wear dark blue suits for power. Things that happen infrequently happen once in a blue moon. But it’s not all good, because hard times and sadness intrude in the form of the Blues. Patsy Cline is “…crazy, feeling so blue.”

Raoul Dufy, the French fauvist painter, said “Blue is the only color that maintains its own character in all its tones…it will always stay blue.” Whatever that really means, it seemed to match a mosaic detail from Gaudi’s Parc Guell in Barcelona.

The Ukrainian Cubist painter Kasimir Malevich said, “I have broken the boundary of color limits, come out into the white; beside me comrade-pilots swim in this infinity.” Taking swimming literally as in blue water, and then emerging into the white of the clouds in the blue sky gives a surrealistic meaning to this photograph of the swimming pool at the Hotel Xaluca Dades in Boumalne Dades, Morocco. To me, it makes it much more than a swimming pool. It makes it infinite with endless possibilities.

Moroccans use vibrant colors, and these blue doors on the orange building seem to have been painted simply to justify Vincent Van Gogh’s quote: “There is no blue without yellow and without orange.” I don’t know what Van Gogh meant exactly, but both colors pop out with such vibrancy when used together.

This magnificent chimney from a Gaudi building in Barcelona just screamed out for the blue centerlight in this Jack Kerouac quote from On the Road: The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everyone goes, “Awww!”

Awww. You can feel the passion as Kerouac’s words speed up faster, faster, reaching, reaching ever farther, like art, color, life.

I used to be like that, speeding faster and faster, until I got a little older and started going slower, slower. Now, all I know is whether that blue centerlight pops or not, I like blue and it makes me feel good.

I made a little book matching my BLUE photographs with quotes from artists (mostly) talking about color (mostly), but I maintained artistic license to add as I wished. For example, for this blue door, I chose Temple Grandin’s statement, “A door opened and I went through it.” That’s what art is about and it’s what life is about. I just happened to go through a lot of blue doors on this trip.


Susan's Background:

I grew up in Los Angeles in a family of artists.  (My father, Edward Reep, is a nationally-renowned watercolorist with paintings hanging in museums across the country, as well as a World War II combat artist, with works in the Pentagon and the Smithsonian.  My mother, Pat Reep, is a well-known quilter.)  After living in Northern California, North Carolina, Virginia and Morocco, my husband and I settled in Bakersfield, CA.  I’ve been married for 41 years and have three children and ten grandchildren.  After retiring from teaching seventh-grade, I’ve been able to focus solely on my art.

I realized early-on that photography would be my medium. My training was not formal: I learned to “see” from growing up with art all around me and from listening to artists.   I asked for my first camera when I was seven, and I’ve been taking pictures every since.

My focus in photography has been to find both beauty in nature and beauty in the mundane.  My primary subject matter has gravitated over the years to travel and nature in all its aspects because I am a documentarian at heart.

My web site 



BLUE: Photos from Spain and Morocco:

Represented:  Metro Galleries

6 Responses

Lovely Susan! Thanks for sharing. How wonderful for you to grow up surrounded by such inspiration. I especially love the blue doors…I want to go inside and see what lies beyond the doors!

Susan – I truly enjoyed reading your post. I love the blue chimney, but the pool with the clouds, that just makes me feel anything is possible. Gliding on the water to be lifted up to the skies to fly with the birds, the freedom, the release of bonds, the total abandonment of swim and flight as one. Amazing. Thank you for a wonderful post.

Love this quote, Susan, “It makes it infinite with endless possibilities.” and bless you, bless you, bless you for including Temple Grandin in your writing today. So thrilled to find a Bakersfieldien guest post today!


Great post full of stunning vibrant photos and inspirational quotes – wonderful! I never thought to take my photos with one colour in mind – I think this would be a fun exercise to try. Thanks for sharing Susan.

Kat X :-)

great shots, such colors.

Thank you everyone. Kat X, you gave me an idea – carry on using other colors as the focus until I have the rainbow, or at least the primary colors.

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