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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Twelve: Using color to express ideas > Time Traveler, Route 66 Motel, Barstow, California, 2006
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Time Traveler, Route 66 Motel, Barstow, California, 2006

The yard surrounding Barstow's vintage Route 66 Motel is strewn with the rusted hulks of cars that once traveled Route 66 itself. This one is permanently parked next to a palm. The most striking feature of this image is the symbolic value of its color content. I use color here to symbolize a form of time travel. The rusted interior, representing the past, contrasts with the vitality of the green and yellow palm, which represents today. Meanwhile, the muted golden color seen through the dirty windshield symbolizes the undefined future.

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Phil Douglis10-Mar-2006 21:42
Thank you for your beautiful commentary, Ramma. You analyze how color works for you in this image very well. Colors symbolize ideas, and the ideas you mention are thought provoking. They make the image work for you, and your comment brings a new dimension to it for others, including myself.
Ramma 10-Mar-2006 17:35
Beautiful image. i love the way you have used colours to signify times. rusty brown for the past. green for the vitality and energy of today, with the future i'd like to deviate a bit. the way i look at it is that the golden age signified prosperity in India, so i would consider the golden color seen through the dirty windshield as a sign of good days coming. Overall its a lovely image, soft colours and the curvaceous tendrils on the palm adds to the image.
Phil Douglis25-Feb-2006 20:35
HI,Rod -- and thanks for the wonderful comment. I cherished the contrasts you note, and was fascinated by your thoughts on that cycle of life metaphor. I can see how you would view this image as symbolic of man's transient nature and the eternal presence of nature. Thanks so much for adding these thoughts to the dialogue here. This was one of my favorite images from the Mohave shoot, and your comment tells us why.
Guest 25-Feb-2006 18:20
Hello, Phil. This photo works on many levels for me. My first thought when seeing this photo was similar to Tim's: the palm trees say "California" which gives me a sense of location.

Secondly, I feel the brilliant yellow of the palms contrast in symbolic ways with cold shadows of the abandoned car. The car is old and dark, deprived of light, while the palm is bright and alive, thriving in the sun.

Something no one mentioned is this photo shows a type of cycle of life: Man uses natural resources to make synthetic devices for his use (or abuse). But, no matter how much time and "quality" workmanship goes into man-made creations. They ultimately are dead things, and as such must decompose and return back to nature, even if it takes more years than the lifespan of those who originally created them. This being said, the yellow of the palms reminds me of the yellow uniforms of garbage collectors. The palms are reclaiming for nature what man stole from it, ultimately recycling the materials back into the earth they came from.
Phil Douglis19-Feb-2006 22:46
Thanks, Carol, for your interpretation. You were there with me -- you saw this car and that palm in real life and real time, so this picture has an extra measure of meaning for you. I can see how the vision of the palm in both the open window and through the dirty window would awaken thoughts of resurrection, probably because the palm itself is so closely associated with the bible story. As for your own images, you might not have seen what I saw here, but your own impressions of the Route 66 journey we shared are far from literal. They are brilliantly expressive, particularly in their use of color. I take great pride in using your Route 66 gallery as an valuable extension of my own instructional gallery on color. It's at
Carol E Sandgren19-Feb-2006 18:55
Agreeing with Tim, the car seems parked forever there, never to move from that palm again. The double "vision" of the palm in the windshield makes it seem to me that the IS possibility that tt would arise from the "dead" once again. Funny, I was right there with you when you were making the picture and hadn't even thought of it. My version turned out much too literally.
Phil Douglis18-Feb-2006 03:43
Thanks, Tim. That thought crossed my mind as I made this picture. There is kind of a "California, Here We Come" tone to this image. But I tried to take it a step further when I thought of the relationship of textures here. The rust of yesterday, the palm of today, and the dimly seen window of the future.
Guest 18-Feb-2006 01:22
Beautiful shot.
Tim May17-Feb-2006 23:34
It seems particularly apt, to me, that it is the palm that is used for your metaphor - palm trees are often a symbol of California - the dreamed for end of the people who may have used this car.
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