Sometimes we are walking along, through the woods, or fields, or in the city, and we look up. Suddenly something is so beautiful it just stops us in our tracks. Maybe it's light, sifting down through the trees. Maybe it's a sunset. Maybe geraniums in a window box, braving the rain.
But it moves us. It almost talks to us. It's almost like finding a beaming smile in a crowd of strangers. There are some moments, some places that almost seem to love us.
It will cause poets to write poems, composers to write songs, and painters to paint - as Paul Signac did here.
We've come to a place where the road bends, and we stop in our tracks. Sailboats catching breezes on a serene sea. A distant shoreline of friendly hills and buildings, all framed by a young cypress tree leaning so far over the road that it seems eager not to miss the view, or the rustling conversation of the other trees.
But we're missing something. This photograph of the painting leaves so much out. What time of day is it? What season? What is the mood of the picture? What's missing?
Can grass be brown or gray or pink? Yes - if it's winter or night, or the grass is bathed in neon light.
Every moment colors around us are changing. Somehow, they mean something inside us.
Color is the artist's musical notes. A song can be sad or playful, depending on what notes are played and how fast or slow. Some colors together seem to make us think of sad things, some of playful things.
Where are the colors in this picture?
I'm not going to tell you. Not yet. Try this little experiment first. Get some tracing paper and trace the outlines of this picture. Now color it with the colors you think Mr. Signac used. Think of colors in colors, shades of colors, light to dark.
Now do another tracing, only this time use different colors, and try very hard to make the scene look like a totally different time of day or season of the year.
Look at both of them. The same sea, the same trees. What difference does the color make in how you feel about each one?
Now I'll tell you Paul Signac's colors.
At the top of the picture, the sky is pale yellow, but as it reaches the violet hills it is a bright pink. The sea is edged in baby blue surrounding streaks of pink and pale yellow, reflecting the sky.
There are flecks of dark orange and yellow and blue on the distant hills. The road is violet and purple, the grass along its edge is bright orange and blue, like the tree trunks (which also have flecks of violet).
The part of the trees that seem sunlit are yellow-green, flecked with orange, but the leafy shadows are a vivid blue flecked with dark greens and turquoise.
But the color that hits you like flames is the brilliant orange and yellow of the bank rising up from the road. It matches the orange sails over the yellow boats.
A glorious summer sunset in Paul Signac's life. How wonderful that he shared it with us. You can take the moments that seem to love you - those scenes - and, colors in hand, share them, too.