Grue and Boats in Unknown Waters

I’ve had this little French armchair for quite a while before finding an Austrian toile with a watercolor scene: entwining cherry blossom trees meeting a bridge, a boat, and a pagoda set on a rolling coastline. The name of the toile is Aomori and in Japanese and Ainu languages it literally means “blue forest,” however it could possibly be translated also as “green forest.” Aomori refers to a small forest on a hill that fishermen used as a landmark near the town, which is a mountainous area on the coast in the northern Tohoku region of Japan.

I’m fascinated by this idea of a forest that could be considered both blue and green. Come to find out, in many languages there aren’t separate terms for certain colors on the visible spectrum, such as blue and green. Grue, although may not be an actual English word for color, has been used to describe the paradox to translate certain languages usage of words that can mean both green and blue. If you think about water that can appear blue and green or blue-green.

I rarely shop for myself and if I do it’s usually by accident, while looking for something else for a client. This painting is a find from one of my favorite antique shops by an artist marked “Nettle,” whom I  haven’t been able to find any information on. Considering the thatched roof in the background, it could be a setting located somewhere in Scandinavia.

What drew me into the work were these two main sailboats: one blue and one green. One boat is docked, while the other boat appears to be either also docked, headed back in, or headed out. Only Nettle knows. However, I do enjoy attempting interpretation, imagining these blue and green sailboats traveling off, into unknown waters, to find ancient islands with grue forests.

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