Lemon Yellow?


I remember Roberta saying that she always put a spot of lemon-yellow in each of her paintings.

The quote is from my cousin Pooh in the comments yesterday (Pooh is not related to Roberta by the way, she’s on my dad’s side of the family but she certainly interacted with my MacMu aunts, uncles, and cousins when they visited the Moominbeach and maybe on the Planet Ann Arbor too). The photo is of the only painting of Roberta’s that I remember seeing. No doubt she had some paintings at her apartment and probably other relatives have some. Her apartment was stuffed full (hoarder, right?) so it was a little hard to process what was there and remember it later. This painting has been around as long as I can remember. It hung on the living room wall in our shabby little bungalow down on Superior Street and later on in the Dillon house, not as shabby but definitely nothing fancy. My parents were HUMBLE folks who did NOT live beyond their means but that would be a whole ‘nother story. I can remember The Engineer and his good buddy Joel rough-housing on the couch underneath the painting and knocking it around a bit. Did the glass crack? I can’t remember. If it did crack, it certainly got fixed. It’s in The Landfill now.

Lemon yellow? In am intrigued by this comment. I don’t remember Roberta ever saying that although I have no doubt that Pooh’s memory is accurate. So I’m looking at this painting and there is yellow in the fabric or whatever it is down at the bottom. Lemon yellow might be a stretch but maybe the painting has faded? Or maybe she made this painting *before* she began to incorporate a spot of lemon yellow. Or maybe this is a nod to lemon yellow. I don’t really remember Roberta painting at all, so I’m not sure it was something she actively did throughout her life. In my memory she was a public school art teacher, always struggling with money, or so I occasionally overheard when family drama was discussed and no one thought that big ears were listening. Always intensively interested in all things Japanese, Roberta gained respect for design work in her later years via the Asian art organization she and Tatsuo were involved in.

I didn’t really want to write a whole ‘nother post about Roberta but something about the “lemon yellow” comment made me realize some of the ways that I am not unlike Roberta. I don’t put a spot of lemon yellow in my paintings but that’s because I don’t paint. But in a way that I can’t put into words, I understand the concept of introducing a little “surprise” element into a piece of art in any media. Roberta always dressed flamboyantly with a huge nod to black, accented by bright color (she was a large woman most of her life and made her own clothing). But guess who else dresses like that? I get so annoyed when my fave on-line clothing emporiums lapse into taupe and pale pink and [gag] beige. Beige in particular is the antithesis of color. The Commander put up with my vibrant colors but I don’t think she ever totally understood them (why would you wanna wear *that*?). Maybe it was because my choices reminded her of a sister she didn’t really get along well with. It could be worse. I could be a hoarder!

4 Responses to “Lemon Yellow?”

  1. Sam Says:

    Ahem. By your own admission in this very space, you’re a flinger not a hoarder…. Awwwww.

  2. Margaret Says:

    I hate beige. It does nothing for me and I look way better in bright colors anyway. I like reading about Roberta. She sounds like a complex, interesting person and those types can often be difficult. 🙂

  3. Pooh Says:

    Well, I have to admit, that’s more of a greenish yellow cloth, unless you look at the places where it folds. I wonder if my folks have one of her paintings, or if I’m just making stuff up. Stick around, my stories may get way more interesting.

  4. Jay Says:

    I am pretty sure we have at least one Roberta. Probably on the art walls in the basement, along with the Springer.