Friday, October 1, 2010

Color Your World

by Niki Turner

It's the height of color season here in the Rockies. Colorado is famous for it's autumnal displays of gold and orange and red. Tourists and locals alike flock to the hills to view the patchwork of golden aspens, orange and red scrub oak, and evergreens against a backdrop of azure skies.

Mt Sopris
This is the valley where I grew up. via Scott Ingram Photography
Come spring, the same locals "ooh" and "aah" over the first sight of a green blade of grass like desert wanderers who've spotted an oasis. Long, white winters will do that to a person!

You're probably aware that the colors around you affect you emotionally, mentally, and physically. That's why drunk tanks and football locker rooms are sometimes painted pink. In 1999, college athletic programs ruled that the locker rooms of visiting teams had to be painted the same color as the locker room of the home team, to avoid this color effect.

Politicians who wear blue ties are considered more honest and trustworthy than politicians who wear red ties. Red is known to increase both appetite and blood pressure, hence the reason you find it in restaurants. Yellow triggers sharpened mental acuity. It's also the first color the eye picks up. Hint: If you don't want to be noticed in a crowd, do not wear a yellow shirt.

Jason Trommeter's Gallery via Picasa

Chromodynamics is the study of the effect of color on the human body and brain. Marketers use chromodynamics in advertising and product design. (McDonald's just wouldn't be as yummy if those famous arches were silver, or blue.) Interior designers apply chromodynamics to create the desired atmosphere in a room or building. Some practitioners of alternative medicine use special colored glasses to increase the body's ability to heal itself. Real-life rose-colored glasses!

In writing, we are encouraged to use all five senses to relate setting and emotion to our readers. Use color wisely. Having a bride choose to wear a persimmon wedding gown says something much different about her character than the bride who opts for traditional white. Watch how filmmakers use color to set the tone for a movie.

From a biblical standpoint, it's obvious God is a big proponent of color, and He must be well aware of the power of color on humans. He has surrounded us with a world of intense colors, from sunsets and sunrises to the wild colors found underseas and everything in between. Rainbows didn't have to be so dramatic and visually pleasing, but what a wonderfully colorful reminder He will never flood the earth again as he did in Noah's time. The prayer shawls worn by the Hebrews were trimmed in blue, a color that symbolizes the presence of God and was to remind the Hebrews of their covenant with Him. 

Pure light contains all colors of the spectrum. Every object absorbs some of the light and reflects other parts of the light. In other words, a red apple reflects the "red" part of the spectrum. It's the reflected light we see and register as "red." (Therefore, apples aren't really red, but that's another subject for another day.)
Excellent site about colordynamics.

Do you adore a certain color? Have your color preferences changed over time, during different periods of your life? Can you pinpoint what was taking place in your life when your love for one color changed to a passion for another? Do you suddenly feel compelled to surround yourself with a new hue or shade? Maybe you aren't really craving the peacock blue leather satchel. Maybe what you've suddenly fallen in love with is that particular shade of blue.

You can take advantage of colordynamics in your home, your wardrobe, even your workspace without spending a dime. Just use what you have to create the effect you want. Try giving your picky eater a red plate at dinner. On a diet? Use a blue plate.

Paint your front door a color you find welcoming and peaceful. And if you rarely enter via the front door, leave it whatever color it is and go paint the door that comes in from the garage! Isn't it funny that so many of us have brightly colored front doors, yet enter and leave our homes through doors that are dingy white or scuffed gray?

Feeling tired? What color energizes you? Get yourself a mug that color for your coffee or tea. Don't be afraid to experiment with color in your surroundings!

Lately, I'm drawn to a rich, deep purple with the barest hint of red; preferably in a thick, cushy velvet, suede, or soft-as-butter leather. Hmm. Maybe it's time for new purse. Or these boots...

What are your thoughts and experiences with the science of color?
What's your current color craving?


  1. I love color and use it for all it's worth. Our kitchen great room area is cheery red and yellow. My sitting room where I do most of my writing is a soft beigy pink with a mauve couch. My bedroom is warm and spicy.

    I'm especially drawn to smoky shades of purple, pink, and blue. Most of my clothes these days are gray, black, and some shade of pink or purple for accent.

  2. I am drawn to Purple and Blue and Deep Shades of Red like Maroon. My all-time favorite though is Purple. Pink's do tend to soothe me when I am angry and anything that is a sky blue also has a very calming effect.

  3. Those boots are hawt!

    I studied color management as my of my degree (and later when I had a lab job) in photography. It is really fascinating. And it is also fascinating how each of us sees color differently.

    I was really into bold bright colors (living in south texas, it is not weird to dress up in orange or lime green) but lately I'm noticing a lot of gray and black in my wardrobe. Blah.

    Must. Go. Shopping.

  4. My of my? LOL - Part of my...

  5. Ha, I'm moving offices at work this coming week and I'm going in tomorrow to paint. I've got color swatches from a gray-lavender shade, to a deep wine color to pale sage, to robin's egg blue. Sadly my choices were limited because of the carpet color.

    I'm sure I'll get it narrowed down in time. But it's a big decision! I've found that overall, I do tend to lean toward the 'cool' end of the color spectrum.

    Thanks for a fun and interesting post, Niki!

  6. I'm a cool girl too. Smoky colors like sage green or plum. Burgundies. I've been wearing a ton of green (nice, calm greens) because my daughter gives me her hand me ups and that's what she'd bought).

    My most exciting color love is the teals. Show me a blue-green and I'm apt to want it. I don't think of blue as ever being my favorite color but I have it everywhere around me.

    Niki, I have a deep purple velvet blazer that was stylish in some decade but I can't get rid of it. I will wear it to my next PRINCE concert (yeah right) or when I'm feeling very bohemian with a big flowy skirt and lots of jewelry.
    (this from the dowdy woman in two opposing plaids and birkenstocks who has a bandana for every occasion...)

    Thanks for the color vacation today, Niki!
    I'd love to see the person who looks good in yellow or gold. anyone?

  7. Fun post, Niki! I loved it.

    My favorite color is red and I love the palette of our current Inkwell background. Everything in tones of brick or crimson or cranberry draws me in. My bedroom is in spicy browns and reds -- so are the living areas -- but the room where I type is full of gold and green.

    When I was a teen, my mom had our entire family's "colors" done -- you know, everyone's skin tone/hair etc falls into one of the four seasons' palettes. I'm an autumn mixed up in an entire family of winters, and up until that point I was dressed in gray (which makes me look like a zombie) or light blue (which never made me as cute as Alice in Wonderland).

    Deb, as a member of an honors society in high school, I had to wear a yellow formal...I still shudder when I look at those pictures. I am not one of the lucky people who looks good in gold/yellow.

  8. Dina, my kitchen is five different colors. All bright shades. I'm much braver with my interior colors than my clothes. I'm trying to break away from wearing so much black!

  9. Louise, I like ALL those colors, too!

  10. Bex, I ended up studying color with my kids doing homeschool science. It is very weird how we all interpret colors differently!

  11. Lisa,
    Based on what I read, DON'T go for gray shades. It causes short-timer syndrome! I think robin's-egg blue would be a wonderful office color!

  12. Deb,
    Your mismatched plaids are quite the trend lately! As is the purple velvet jacket! (Get those boots, girl, and you'd have a great outfit going!)

  13. Susie,
    I wouldn't have pegged you for a warm color girl. But your house colors sound wonderfully warm and cozy.
    I had my "colors" done once at a party of some sort. I'm a winter - all cool colors. But I break those rules a lot these days!
    Redheads seem to be able to wear yellow well, but they are the only ones, IMO.

  14. After we moved into this house, I painted my office a lovely orangy-melon color.

    Hubby walked in to the room and said, "I hate this. Paint it something else or I'll never come in here."

    Hmmm. After a moment's pause, I agreed to go through my closet of free mistint paint and find something more pleasing to his eye palette. Thus my office is now a cross between a fern green and a sap green as found on this color scale:

    Of course, I found white curtains with red and yellow geraniums to brighten the dark walls.

    While I like my office, my favorite rooms in the house are two bathrooms because I combined several paints to come up with the shades so they're really custom colors. :-)

    1) small bathroom on main level of house

    Bottom 1/3 of wall is black-glazed pine board. Top 2/3 of wall is robin's egg blue. Crown molding, chair rail, baseboard, and ceiling are all painted black. Oak floor.

    Lisa, I agree with Niki. An office with robin's egg blue walls would be lovely. Two thumbs up!

    2) guest bathroom in basement

    Walls are red with pink undertone. Molding is white. Shower curtain is fern green with gold accents. Accents are black,white and green. I filled the yard-sale bargain picture frames with travel memory book paper to keep the room from having a Christmas-vibe.

    As far as colors I wear, my children asked me to stop buying clothes that were either black or white. Impossible! I like black by choice. Color for me is an accent.

    However, I am wearing a pink shirt today. I'm probably the last person you'll see wearing a yellow shirt. Of if I do wear one, I'll cover it with a cardigan or jacket.

    I truly could go goth.

    In fact, I bought black nail polish yesterday. And silver glitter too.

  15. Oh, Deb, about mismatched plaids...

    Middle child (10) got dressed for school. He came downstairs for breakfast, and I gave him a lingering perusal.

    Red and blue plaid shirt.
    Green, white, and yellow plaid shorts.

    I said, "Umm, this ensemble you have going, how do you feel about it?"

    He answered, "This is plaid. This is plaid."

    I heard, "This is plaid and this is plaid so consequently they match."

    The next day he wore a red and white button-down shirt and purple pants.

    I think he's color-challenged.

  16. Gina,
    I'm still laughing about your middle kiddo. Classic!
    I have a closet of mismatch paint, too. I've been known to redo entire rooms around somebody's paint mistake.
    I love your color choices! But you're nicer than I am. I paint rooms hoping to keep people OUT of them. I chose a lovely ballet pink for the guest bathroom thinking the boys would stop using it and use their OWN bathroom (parchment rag paint to go with their pirate theme). I guess they like the calming pink atmosphere. :-)

    BTW, the only room in my house without color is my bedroom/master bath. Black and white. Weird.

    SO, here's a question... we all seem to share an affinity for the use of color, esp. in decorating. What about your moms? My mother will ONLY paint walls Navajo white. She insists my color fetish is some form of delayed rebellion.

  17. Wow! That was very interesting! Right now my current color craving is blue. It's so calming and cool. I've like blue for as long as I remember. In fact my mom, aunt, and both my grandmothers favorite color is blue.


  18. A multi-generational color craving! I bet that's very unusual. What a fun thing to share with family, though. Thanks for coming by today!

  19. So much fun information - I'm a color pig. My mother had a tremendous sense of color. She knew just exactly what each of us (4) girls should wear and it was long before Color Me Beautiful! However, in decorating, she was very conservative - we always said walking in our house was like falling in a bowl of oatmeal. Now, all of us girls use tons of color in our houses - maybe a sign of the times, maybe a correction to deprivation - ha, ha!

  20. Sparky,
    LOVE the "bowl of oatmeal" description. Very writerly of you! I may have to steal that for a story someday.
    My house growing up was lighter than oatmeal... maybe cream 'o wheat? Or grits.
    Thanks for commenting!


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