Color Crazed: Some thoughts on color theory and use

 

Magnified detail of colored pencils

Magnified detail of colored pencils

I’m not sure what constitutes a healthy obsession. I’ve never been good with those kinds of boundaries. Maybe it’s my way to battle the gray winter sky. Lately the pull of color is like the tide. I can’t help myself.  It’s a desperate longing that borders on compulsion.

Colored pencils orange green blue

Colored pencils orange green blue

As far back as my visual memory goes there is color. Blocks of color tied to periods of my life. Pale yellow and light purple: early high school. Black & white accented by pink turquoise & purple, that was college. Pink & teal, my first wedding. The 80s. Hot pink, orange and lime, my second wedding. The grounding colors of the earth- browns, terra cotta, mustard…the first floor of my home. Topped by airy colors of periwinkle, Caribbean blues and garden green live with us on the second floor.

Colored pencils in blues

Colored pencils in blues



By now you’re saying “enough already I get it you’re driven by color”. Oh yes. I am. Combinations. Stripes. Scattered messes. Clothes hanging on the store racks. Rainbows of paint chips at the hardware store. Of colored pencils. Of colored pencil shavings even!



I thought I’d take a few minutes and share some of my colorful vision with you.

 

 

I decided to do a little research on how we are effected by color and what colors have become to us. In the process of sharing what I’ve learned, I will also be presenting some new work as part of this study.

 

Recognize it or not, color impacts our lives daily.

Holidays and seasons are queued by colors … Orange and black or red and green. Pinks and reds for Valentine’s Day. They signal that there’s a shift, even it it’s a shift in what’s in stock on the store shelves.

This photo, as an example, is pretty simple. It’s a cup of tea. Sort of generic cup on a bamboo mat with green flowers.

Cup of tea on bamboo mat with green

Cup of tea on bamboo mat with green

Same cup of tea…..

Place it on a red mat and toss in some berries….

 

Cup of tea for holiday

Cup of tea for holiday

 

Now it’s got a holiday feeling to it. In American culture – and color and culture are close relations in symbolism – this signals Christmas.

Cup of tea in spa

Cup of tea in spa

Same cup of tea, add rocks, a fluffy white towel, and a running bath and its got more of a spa and relaxation feeling to it.

 

Colored pencils in rainbow

Colored pencils in rainbow

 

Think about the advertising you see every day. Watch the subtle but calculated notes that will appear over the coming weeks. It’s September now and the leaves have barely begun to change color here in Maine. Within a few weeks, however, we’ll got from fresh green and blues to russet and ambers, then to deep reds, then to the orange and black Halloween colors. I don’t just mean that nature’s coloring will change. The visuals presented to us in television and online advertising will change often sooner than the leaves do, all to prompt us into the next season’s purchases, whether it’s food, clothing, gifts, decorations, or sentiment, marketing is one step ahead of us.

 

Colorful Vegetable Display

Colorful Vegetable Display

Harvest season…back to school shopping, a time for preparing for the long winter ahead, right?

Christmas presents and ornaments

Christmas presents and ornaments

These colors of purple and pink may not be the conventional pigments for Christmas, but add them to some reds and greens and use the familiar shapes of ornaments and boxes and it’s a sign of the season.

Valentines day anyone?

Valentines day anyone?

Easter baskets to fill

Easter baskets to fill

 

All by switching the colors used in ads, our thoughts are set in motion to respond to the message, either conscientiously or not, cultural commercial use of color surrounds us.

 

I challenge you to go out into the mall, if you dare, and take note of the seasonal influences of color and how closely it ties to your emotions and your wallet. Pay attention to what certain colors make you feel or think. The power of color is undeniable.G

In my next post, I will share with you some of the information I’ve gathered about the use of color in commercial logos and designs. What do the  “Golden Arches” really mean?

 

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