Channeling Faber Birren

Channeling Faber Birren

Color expert Faber Birren was “a color consultant who read and analyzed tastes in the hues deemed most suitable for one’s surroundings”, as stated by his 1988 New York Times obituary. “Mr. Birren firmly believed in the therapeutic effects of bright colors on the mentally troubled. He also stressed that taste in colors, although occurring in fashionable cycles, was highly personal, with no two people responding the same way.”

Stumbling upon a nifty little book of Mr. Birren’s titled aptly, “Principals of Color“, I delved into the intricacies of tint, tone and shade.

Thinking I already knew quite a bit about what these terms meant, I was  intrigued to find that according to Birren, I still had  a way to go.

Birren divides up “color” into  three “forms”:  Hue (pure color), White, and Black.  True, I thought.  The combinations of these (and there are only four) create four secondary “forms”.  White +  Black = Gray.  Hue +  White = Tint.  Hue + Black =  Shade.  Hue + Black +White = Tone.

Wow, thought I…so true.  I had never considered it that way before. So caught up in the doing, the creating, mixing, playing with and achieving of colors…I had not deeply, deeply yet considered, the seven forms: Hue, White,  Black, Tint, Tone, Shade, Gray.

Apparently, as well, our eyes and brains will sort out, or simplify the huge range of existing color, IE, color wavelengths, (color is an effect of light wavelengths ) into a relative few.

In the words of Faber Birren, “It is thus philosophic, if not scientific, to conclude that the human sense of color doesn’t want to be bothered with the details.”    How human indeed!

It seems that we are actually, “dumbing down” the spectrum of colors that actually exist!

My colleague and associate, Rebecca E. Parsons of Cre8tive Compass Magazine, and Artistically Speaking Talk Show fame, shared a most fascinating story the last time we spoke on her blog talk radio show when I visited as the “Color Muze”.

She recounted that during a summer storm, an electrical storm, I believe, she looked up in the sky, and saw a color that she had never seen before.  No, not a permutation of red, blue, yellow, green, purple or orange. Not a black, or a white.

A TOTALLY DIFFERENT color that she had ever perceived, or laid eyes upon before…the closest she could get to describing it was that it might be said to be a “cooler” color.

Wow.

I have tried to research such a phenomenon,  but so far, have not come up with any information on spectral colors that most or all of us normally cannot see, but, that some can, or colors that can be seen only at certain times, and under certain conditions.

It just blows the mind!

I wonder what Faber Birren would have to say about such an experience?

Maybe, as I plough through research or stumble again upon information that might illuminate this mystery, I may find out!

Until then, I will have to live with its shadow of the mystery…or possibly, its light!

Have any of YOU ever heard about, or experienced such a thing?   Seeing “beyond”  the  color spectrum that most of us normally see within?

If so, please share about it with us here.

We Love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all coloring our way through this thing called Life, together.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. […] Red, yellow and blue…the classic primary palette with a twist…the colors are warmer and lighter than “true” primaries…with the blue leaning towards the turquoise, the red to the orange, and the yellow a paler tint. […]


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