The Colors of Healing

The Colors of Healing

In November of  2011 I chatted with  Rebecca E. Parsons  on her fascinating  Artistically Speaking Talk Show , on Blog Talk Radio   where she interviews a wide range of artists, coaches, and other creatives, such as mixed media painter  Sarah Ahearn Bellemare.  As the show’s   Color Muze , it is my job to offer fun, interesting, colorFULL and salient color tips each third Sunday of the month, at the end of the interview.  The Color Muze  is then transformed into an article, and published in Rebecca’s   Cre8tive Compass Magazine , and my own blog, Artissima, the blog of ArtiFactory Studio.  We strive to make our Color Muzes both delicious AND nutritious…to keep the learning sweet!

On November 20, 2011, our Color Muze took a turn to the metaphysical, and the arena of  psychosomatic medicine. We discussed an approach to healing with color I had learned about during my studies with the  IACC , ( International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers), based on the “Chakras‘, or energy centers existing outside of the body, which, according to our teacher and color expert, Frank Mahnke , “are in communication with the automatic nervous system and the regulation of hormone secretion.  These energy centers are divided into seven chakras and each chakra corresponds to one of the seven spectral colors.”

We had so much colorFULL fun during our Muze, looking at the list of these, and their correlations, which, gratis Mr. Mahnke,  I share with you, Gentle Readers, here and now.

   The Vertex chakra corresponds to VIOLET…representing  wisdom and  spiritual energy, and influences the pituitary gland.

The Forehead  chakra  corresponds to INDIGO…representing intuition, ( the third eye), and  influences the pineal gland.

The Larynx chakra corresponds to BLUE… representing religious inspiration, creativity, language, and communication, and influences the thyroid gland.

The Heart chakra corresponds to GREEN and PINK… representing  love, sympathy, harmony, and influences heart and thymus glands.

The  Solar Plexus chakra corresponds to YELLOW…representing  knowledge and intellect, and is the seat for tension, and influences solar plexus and adrenal body.

The Spleen chakra corresponds to ORANGE… representing energy, and  influences the  spleen and pancreas.

The Basis chakra corresponds to RED… representing life and reproduction, and influences sex glands and sexual organs. (Can’t help thinking about VALENTINE’S DAY here!)

And, what happens when colors such as complimentary BLUE and ORANGE are placed next to each other?

We invite you to  listen to our Color Muze from November 20th, along with the wonderFULL interview with Sarah Ahearn Bellemare, and find out!

What experiences have YOU had with Color Healing?

If You feel so inclined, please share them with us here…Muze with us!

We love to hear from YOU!

Remember, we are all healing through this thing called Life, together.

Wishing YOU Health, Peace, and Color in Your Life.

A a liner note, the above pictures were taken at the magical and marvelous San Francisco event, “Bouquets to Art”, held each MARCH, at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, (FAMSF).  Follow the link, and check it out if you are in the Bay Area at that time (it is coming up next month!)  You won’t be disappointed…”Bouquets” is bound to add sweetness, AND color to your life and senses!

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Is Your Color Centrifugal or Centripetal?

Is Your Color Centrifugal or Centripetal?

Recently, during our Color Muze segment, on Artistically Speaking Radio, we discussed the fascinating phenomenon of centrifugal and centripetal action and complexity, as color designer and expert Frank Mahnke, of the International Association of Color Consultants/Designers,  terms it.

The concept of  centrifugal and centripetal action and complexity in this context,  is related to using color to create a mood, to support the function of a space. In essence, we create moods through use of color (and pattern), and we can support (or not) the function of a space by the colors and patterns we use in it.

Centrifugal action, derived from the Latin centrum, meaning “center”, and fugere, meaning “to flee”, does just that: directs our attention out and away from the center, or, our inward center, and towards the environment.  Warm color, with high luminosity, (” emitting or reflecting usually steady, suffused, or glowing light “), has a centrifugal effect, and can help to create bright, cheerful, animated environments, conducive to activity, and conviviality, such as Living and Dining Rooms!

Centripetal action, by contrast, from the Latin centrum “center” and petere “to seek, is associated with  inward direction, and can relate to contemplation and concentration. Cooler and softer colors, with less luminosity can produce a centripetal effect, which can in turn increase the ability to focus and perform demanding intellectual or visual work.  Or, relax, sleep or bathe!

Strong color contrasts will create excitement in a room,

while less contrast will feel more calming, as in “tone-on-tone” pattern.

The contrast of a dark and cool color, with a light and bright one can create animation and excitement in a space through contrast, while the colors themselves express restraint and dignity,

creating a fitting  (pun intended) mood for a sophisticated retail space.

Less color contrast, yet high warmth and luminosity, can create a contained aliveness,

“apropos”  for an entryway that is meant to be both welcoming and elegant, calming and warm.

By contrast, strong pattern and related colors can perk up even a small space,

without overpowering it, and distracting from its function!

In summary, when choosing colors for an environment, the function of that environment should be taken into consideration, and color’s ability to focus our attention inward or outward used to its full potential.  The warmth or coolness, luminosity, strength (or chromaticity) of a color, the contrasts between colors, and the use of pattern will have a significant effect on the perceived mood of any space, and thus on our ability to use that  space, and function in it to highest capacity.

Centrifugal and centripetal action and complexity is another example of the inherent power and effect of color, and how we can harness it to support and improve our lives.

Take a look around at YOUR color schemes.

Is Your Color Centrifugal or Centripetal?

If you so choose, please share about it with us here.

We Love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all trying to get centered in this thing called Life, together.


Color: Culture, Trends, and You


Color: Culture, Trends, and You

Over the summer, during our “Color Muze” segments on Artistically Speaking Talk Show,  we have focused on the Color Experience Pyramid, as outlined by color expert, Frank H. Mahnke of the International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers .

As described in the posts, “Pyramid Scheme”  and “The Embodiment of Color”, we experience color on a number of different levels, and Mr. Mahnke has developed a  ” pyramid scheme”  to organize them. This schemata looks like a  broad-based triangle, and is composed of six levels, starting at the wide base with our biological responses to a color stimulus, and ending at its pointed tip, with our personal relationship to  color.  In other words, the Pyramid levels move from the general to the specific.

Here’s to the red, white and blue…and, yellow!?

We are influenced by our cultures, and this affects how we experience and use color, and our emotional response to it.   Top 1 Oil, a company that produces and provides, you got, it, petroleum products, uses the colors of the American flag in its logo, along with sunny, optimistic, and energetic yellow.   Do we feel energetic when we view this logo?

In addition to presenting a logo and branding that encompass all three primary (red, blue, yellow) colors,  supported by white, aka, purity, this color combination reads patriotism plus.  The yellow adds brightness and warmth, relating to an image of golden oil. What a message of hopefulness, buoyancy, energy (oil = fuel,/sunlight = energy = fuel) and forward movement!

Very few of us, no matter how individual we may want to, or feel ourselves to be, can resist at least some influence of current fashions and trends. The  Color Marketing Group (CMG) mwebsite states that they are ” the premier international association for color design professionals. Our mission is to create color forecast information for professionals who design and market color. ”  There is a whole world of those forecasting the next color trend, or “color of the year”, and like it or not, they exert great influence over what we see on the runways, on the road, on our walls, and even  on our bodies.

Yet, what goes into these trends?  There must be some combination of cultural experience, current events, environmental states, and the impact of history that informs them.

Mid-Century … modern once upon a time…

As I share in my post, Featured Work: “Mid-Century Retro”:   Starburst, Atom, or Tinkertoy?Mid-Century Modern design style, both in its “original’ format more than a half a century ago, and in its many personalized revivals, encompasses specific colors, textures, shapes, and patterns.  These comprise a style or trend, that was fresh, “a la mode”, and au courant” at one time, and has now become retro, beloved by some, whimsical to others, fun and even intriguing to many.

Paradoxically, Mid-Century Retro and its accompanying earth tones, burnt oranges, grey and gold hues can be seen as a current trend or fashion, even though its original style is no longer fresh and new, or in the van guard.  The fact that this style is nostalgic (depending on when you were born…or, not) can, pun intended, color our emotional and aesthetic response to the palette.

Finally…to the personal..our Personal Relationship to Color….

So, why do we love what we love?

I quote Frank Mahnke, who says, “…the “color experience”, or, how we experience color, is made up of the inter-relationship and connection of all the levels of the pyramid….we, within our life and according to mood, change color preference….An expression through color…characterizes us, and gives an indication of who we are as individuals.’

Serving up some  specific Color Choices…

Bright colors on an exterior mural….what the client wants to see outside her kitchen window…

The purple sunset sky desired by a young girl for her bedroom ceiling….

Magical colors on the exterior of a building brightening the foggy weather…

Knowing the “theory”…, color theory that is, can help us make these choices, and feel as though we are on the “right”  track.

Our experience of color through nature  is direct, primal, and  visceral.  Also, most likely, backed up by theory, if we really look at it.

Nature, color and art, are they separable?  What do You think?

What is the influence of culture and trends on your personal relationship to color?

If you are so moved, please share about it with us here.  We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all coloring in this thing called Life, together.





The Embodiment of Color

The Embodiment of Color

When recently discussing Frank Mahnke‘s “schemata, the “Color Experience” Pyramid, I found myself sliding uncomfortably, yet seamlessly, from one “level” of the Pyramid to the other.

I say  uncomfortably, because I felt that some of the levels were so interconnected, as to be nearly inter-changeable. The Pyramid describes six levels upon which we experience the phenomenon of color.  I  decided to take a closer look at each, starting with its base: “biological reactions to a color stimulus“, IE: our own biology.

Our sensations are generated, and thus emanate, from our senses, our five senses, to be exact, which are experienced through our own bodies.  You might say it’s a physical thing.  We must then, embody color,  just as we experience it.  If color is light is energy, I reasoned, in a sense, in a very real sense, we must be made of it.  If we are made of energy, made of light, we must be made of color.  Are we then walking, talking rainbows? Flowers? Sunsets?

We cannot control our biological reactions to color, as they show,  in the words of English psychologist Nicholas Humphry, “….traces of our evolutionary heritage.”  From the green pigment of chlorophyll and its role in the necessary process of photosynthesis, to the huge red pouches developed by the male frigate bird during mating season,  in nature, and thus in  ourselves, color is and always has been a signal between life forms and species that is crucial to our survival. Camouflage, protection, sustenance, warning, sexuality, fertility, all of these and more are signified and communicated through color, which underneath it all still seem to be running us today, both psychologically and biologically.

A neural pathway, aptly called the “energetic portion” of the optic pathway transports light and color stimulation to the master glands which control the production and release of hormones. Whoa!  Talk about the Mother lode!  We see that color affects our biology, and biological activity, whether we wish it, will it, want it, or not. Blue light, for example, has been used to cure infant jaundice.

Humans have “total color vision“, meaning that we need the total color spectrum for our biological and psychological survival.
Color has always been a significant factor in our evolution and survival as humans, teaching us what is safe and nutritious to eat,  how to interpret and adapt to our natural environment, and how to understand and respond to the changing seasons, as our earth rotates around the sun.

Here we come full circle, a full rotation  if you will.  Light is color, and from the energy of light we see, sense, and  take what is needed for our survival, preservation and protection as a species.   On this most basic level, the level of our biology, our response to color has nothing to do with what we might term as preference.  Our perception of  the light-giving radiant energy of the sun, which is color, is fundamentally linked to our survival, and thus deeper than any conscious experience, control, effort or emotion could dictate.

Are YOU conscious of experiencing color on a biological level?? How does color support YOUR survival?

If you are so moved, please share your experience with us here.  We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all experiencing this colorFULL thing called Life, together.



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Brand New 2

Brand New 2

What is a “brand“?  I added a link to the term, because I think Wikipedia describes the concept better than I can, at least at this stage.  One of the salient words used in the definition is “identity”.  Specifically: “A brand is the identity of a specific product,  service,  or business.” My colleague  Elka Eastly Veratransformative coach and brand consultant, defines it such: “A brand is like soul DNA. It’s what people recognize you for. It’s where the “you of you” meets the world. It’s the essence of your business. “

Jim Moran, founder and manager of Co-Op, a NYC-based branding firm, says,Brand is really the DNA that defines your company. Branding is about storytelling.  it’s about bringing the DNA to life and creating perceptions.”

When Frank Mahnke, of the International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers says that color is a form of communication and information, he is talking the language of branding.  How do colors, patterns, textures, shapes, forms and images create  ‘soul DNA’, and story?

It took me awhile to realize how much like graphic design and marketing decorative painting could be.  When I worked with the talented graphic designer Dianna Jacobsen, of Jacobsen Design, on the creation of my website, business cards, brochure, and postcard, I went through an in-depth process of determining how I wanted to beam my business, my work, my self, out into the world.

It’s not just about making things beautiful, but creating an experience for people.” says Dianna, about bringing the “brand” into physical spaces.

When I found myself working with clients ranging from businesses and  organizations to  non-profits and institutions, I discovered that I was helping them do just that through visual, and often verbal elements as well.

Let’s take a look at a few of them who employed the painter’s brush as a tool for communicating their message.

921 Front Street is a historic building dating from 1859, located in the North Waterfront area of San Francisco. Originally a warehouse, it is now a commercial building providing office space. The signage in the lobby is based on the building’s logo, so there is an immediate tie-in to the brand.  The metallic copper and steely silver colors used in the lettering reflect the natural and industrial materials used in the lobby.

Maitri Compassionate Care provides exemplary, innovative, and compassionate hospice care. The Maitri Mover Campaign Donor Recognition Arch above was designed to honor the donors who participated in the capital campaign supporting its present facility. Names of donors are hand-painted onto the glazed surface of the industrial arch which supports the one-time parking garage.  Like 921 Front Street,  the lettering is done in metallic paints to draw the eye to the words, and make them stand out from the background.  Whether said background be black or white, and the words words sparse or abundant, all visual and verbal elements support the branding.

“On the Fly” is a specialty men’s store designed by  Martinkovic Milford Architects The broken stripe design suggests stitching, as well as the classic men’s pin-striped suit sold inside. The stripe patten reflects the visual branding image used in the brand’s marketing materials. The “hands on” stripe application both communicates and enhances the store’s established visual message, and is “tailor-made” for the venue!

Also communicating directly out onto the “street”, but in a whole other way, the mural above depicts an imagined “Land of Oshun”, where a host of interacting Oshun figures express the colors, symbols, and attributes of this beneficent and inspirational goddess figure. Oshun Center, a drop-in center for women and their families, is a program of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics.   Oshun is the name of an “Orisha” or goddess in the Yoruban (an ethno-linguistic group of West Africa), Brazilian, and Cuban religious pantheons.  Oshun’s color is yellow, and her metals are gold and copper. Other symbols depicted in the mural include peacocks and mirrors, reflective of vanity and physical beauty.  Oshun represents life’s joys, and all that makes it worth living, and this is the “soul DNA”, message, story,  brand, of Oshun Center, supported in turn, by the visual language of the mural.

When we think about how everything we see, indeed everything we experience through any of our senses, transmits something, carries and provides associations, and potentially stirs our emotions, we can see just how powerful visual and verbal elements can be in telling the story of our soul, and communicating the soul of our story.

How have You communicated the essence of your own work or business, or that of another,  through the elements of color, pattern, texture and imagery?  What about words, text, or as the brand editor Abby Kerr would say, “phraseologie”?

Please share about the richness of your experience with us here.  We love to hear from You.

Remember, we  are all branding through this thing called Life, together.


Shedding Light on Color

Shedding Light on Color

What is color really?


We tend to think of color as being a property of, a part of, or existing within or on something.  We think of an object or surface having, or containing color.  As color is so emotionally, psychologically and even physically powerful, we concretize  it, i.e., we  see it as a Thing, unto itself.

But actually, as IACC color designer Frank Mahnke says, “Color exists only in our brain.”  He further explains, “Color is actually the result of different wavelengths of light stimulating certain parts of the brain. The experience of color depends on the intensity of light, the way it is reflected from a surface, and the colors surrounding objects.”


The Artist’s handbook of Materials and Techniques by Ralph Mayer states, “Each paint pigment owes its color to the kind of light rays it absorbs and reflects.  White light (daylight) is composed of a number of waves or impulses of various dimensions or wavelengths, any single one of which, if isolated, would have the property of producing a specific color sensation on the eye.  When a ray of white light falls upon a pigment, the pigment absorbs certain waves and reflects others; this determines its color effect.”


When we consider that white  light is composed of the color spectrum, we can then understand that the color that we see is composed of the light waves that are NOT absorbed by the surface we are looking at.  This may seem counter-intuitive, because aren’t we looking at a color that IS part of the surface we see, and not the color that isn’t?

Well, actually, no.

We are perceiving a color that is, to a great extent,  the light wavelengths NOT being absorbed by the surface, which ARE being scattered, or reflected “back to us”, and thus we perceive the surface as “being” that color that we see.  I say “to a great extent”, because our perception of color  is also affected  by ambient lighting, as well as the color of objects nearby.

When we think of the surface (actually, it is the material, or pigments on or in the surface, but for the sake of simplicity…) as absorbing the light waves we DON’T see, and reflecting back to us those we DO, then the whole phenomenon becomes a bit easier to understand.  In a sense, the colors we see are not really “there”, objectively speaking.  Indeed, one might say that our perception is a phenomenon of light.  Comprehending this, we can understand why the Impressionists declared that they were “painting light”.

However much we study the science, the facts as we understand them, and various color theories from Newton to Goethe, there is an aspect of color that remains a mystery, and perhaps rightly so.

The fact that color is not an inherent part of objects, but is, among other things, an effect of light, which is mutable, changes our perception of both ourselves and the world around and within us.  Our comprehension is tweaked, and may become  just that much broader.  Learning about, experiencing, and understanding aspects of color may color our view on hue, the world, our lives.  Color, and the art, science and magic of it really can be transformative; white light splintering into all the colors of the Rainbow…

What scientifically magical or mysterious aspects of color have YOU discovered lately?

If you are so moved, please share them with us here.  We love to hear from You.

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




Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part Two

Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part Two

Our February 13th “Color Muze” segment on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, focused on the fascinating concept and phenomenon of “Synesthesia”, or “Unity of the Senses. I learned about Synesthesia through my color seminars at the IACC-NA (The International Association of Colour Consultants and Designers North America) from Mr. Frank Mahnke, President of the  IACC-NA and the Director of the IACC Education/Accreditation Programs conducted worldwide. Mr. Mahnke lectures on the  psycho-physiological effects of color, light and the human reaction to the built environment, as well as the role of color as information and communication in the field of marketing.  In other words… Color Rocks the Big One…our Perception.

In my first Seminar with the IACC-NA, I learned about how colors (the visual) can provoke associations with our other senses, (smell, touch/the tactile, hearing and taste), as well as affect our perception of weight, volume, size and texture.  In the words of Mr. Mahnke , “It seems that the centers for processing sensory information are linked with each other, leading to crosstalk between the senses.” If this is true, and it would seem from the evidence of our senses that it is, then the concept of Synesthesia is an important consideration in any and every color decision we make, with potentially profound consequences emotionally, physically, aesthetically, and even spiritually.   How does our perception of Color make us Feel?

We tend to talk about color in terms of the visual; “Oh, that red bedroom is so bright!”, or “That’s a very pale shade of lilac.” But, if we tune into our own phraseology, we may just as often hear ourselves speaking about color in terms of our other four senses, the auditory, (hearing), olfactory, (smell),  gustatory, (taste), and the tactile (touch).  “Oh, that red is just so loud!” “What a sour green!”, “Such a sweet pink room!“, “I love that soft blue.”

Let’s awaken all our senses by taking a closer look, and tuning into what we feel, and how we respond to color.

What do colors sound like?

Warm colors such as yellows and oranges tend to feel loud to us, and can potentially make a space feel “noisy”.  According toHeinrich Frieling, Director of the Institute of Color Psychology, we associate gold-yellow with major keys, and orange with loudness and major keys. Cooler colors such as blue on the other hand, tend to feel quieter and more distant, with darker-hued spaces seeming to  further muffle sounds.

What do colors feel like?

What texture does a particular color “feel” like it has?  It’s not surprising that yellow tends to “feel” smooth. When we consider yellow’s associations, this makes sense.  Have we ever felt a ray of rough or scratchy sunlight?  Looking at yellow’s opposite or complement, purple, we can get a sense of velvet.  Would this have anything to do with our association of purple with royalty, and the images of purple velvet which we may associate with royal robes?

What do colors smell like?

The  chroma, saturation, lightness, and brightness of a particular color  can affect its sensory associations. Under Frieling, the Institute of Color Psychology has asserted that the color brown is associated with a musky, or roast taste.  We may even use the word “browning” in lieu of the word “roasting”, or to describe part of the roasting process.  However, green-blue may elicit fresh to salty associations, while the hue “blue” is essentially odorless. Add to this the nature associations we have to brown in all its aspects (think “earthy”), green-blue (sea) and just “blue” (sky), and the sensory meanings can become clear. Different blue and brown combinations will give different effects, making us think with our noses, as well as our eyes.

What do colors Taste like?

Taste and smell are closely related, and tend to hold the same or similar color associations. Red is sweet and strong, as long as it contains no yellow, and doesn’t cross over into the realm of orange, which may not be so sweet, despite our associations with the fruit.  Perhaps the holiday of Valentine’s Day has played upon this “red as sweet” association, with its emphasis on red-wrapped boxes of chocolate, and other sweets.  I would add the term “rich” into the mix, my association with Valentine’s Day chocolate, if its worth its salt- er, sugar.  Green, and yellow-green by contrast (red and green being complementary colors, and opposite each other on the color wheel) associate with sour, with yellow-green veering to the tangy, and green, to the juicy.  Consider green apples, kiwis, limes, fried green tomatoes (well, maybe not fried…tomatoes ARE fruits though!)  Green to yellow-green hues can make our mouths water and our lips pucker just by thinking about them!

Thinking about it.  In a way, that is the point.. isn’t it?  Because, as we know, as scientists, colorists, designers and artists know, however subliminally, that color IS a matter of perception.  Color exists in our brains. As Frank Mahnke says, “There is no doubt that a unity exists from one sense to another.  Perception is not just a mosaic of separate sense stimulations.  In certain aspects of psychology…the entire organism is looked upon as a whole.”

All of our senses play into the impressions we receive, the internal images we carry, and the ideas we form. resulting in how we feel.  How we feel affects how we behave, and vice versa. When we understand, or perceive of color that way, we realize how amazingly,  incredibly important and powerful  it is.  Color really does Rocks the Big One…our Perception. And as some would say, “perception is reality”.  What do You think?

If you feel so inspired, share YOUR sense and sensibility with us here.  We love to hear from you.  Remember, we are all experiencing this thing called Life, together.

Newsflash: for another yummy look at the phenomenon of Synesthesia, please check out Elizabeth Brown’s Colorific blog post on the same subject.


Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part One

Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part One

Our February 13th “Color Muze” segment on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, focused on the fascinating concept and phenomenon of “Synesthesia”, or “Unity of the Senses. I learned about Synesthesia through my color seminars at the IACC-NA (The International Association of Colour Consultants and Designers North America) from Mr. Frank Mahnke, President of the  IACC-NA and the Director of the IACC Education/Accreditation Programs conducted worldwide. Mr. Mahnke lectures on the  psycho-physiological effects of color, light and the human reaction to the built environment, as well as the role of color as information and communication in the field of marketing.

In my first Seminar with the IACC-NA, I learned about how colors (the visual) can provoke associations with our other senses, (smell, touch/the tactile, hearing and taste), as well as affect our perception of weight, volume, size and texture.  In the words of Mr. Mahnke , “It seems that the centers for processing sensory information are linked with each other, leading to crosstalk between the senses.” If this is true, and it would seem from the evidence of our senses that it is, then the concept of Synesthesia is an important consideration in any and every color decision we make, with potentially profound consequences emotionally, physically, aesthetically, and even spiritually!

Let’s look at some examples.

Considering Temperature: Painter, designer, teacher, writer and theorist Johannes Itten wrote about experiments that supported the thesis that we can feel a 5-7 degree difference in temperature in rooms painted blue-green, and red-orange.  When we consider the associations with blue-green (water, coolness), and red-orange (fire, heat) this would seem to make sense!  What experiences have YOU had temperature-wise, being surrounded by architectural color?  Does blue/green always feel cooler, and red/orange warmer to you?  Does it depend on the value, saturation, intensity, tone and context of the color?  And what about the color of that color- its hue?

What about Volume? We can see through experience, that lighter, cooler  colors seem to recede, thus making a room feel larger,  (giving it more “room”) while warmer, more saturated, and darker colors seem to advance, and take up more space in a room, thus making it appear smaller.  Have YOU had this experience? As a color designer, have you used these principles?

Can color affect our perception of weight and size? Darker, warmer and more saturated colors tend to seem heavier, and the areas they cover seem to be larger, while paler, cooler and more pastel colors seem lighter, and the areas they cover, smaller.  Thus a darker, warmer, and more saturated color will seem to bring a ceiling “down”, and the opposite for  a paler, cooler and more pastel color.  Can YOU see this effect in these two ceiling areas?  The effect may be complicated by the fact that the area surrounding both is in the hue range of cream to white!


The above are just a few of the infinite examples of “sensory crosstalk”, or Synesthesia, which I suspect pervades our daily lives far more than we are conscious of.

In a subsequent post, I will explore Synesthesia in terms of our five senses: the visual effect of color as regards to our sense of hearing, touch, taste and smell.  In other words, What scent does the color lime green conjure up?  What flavor would rosebud pink be? Does cobalt blue “feel” rough or smooth?  These are illuminating exercises to try for ourselves, and I am going to discuss just how to do that.

As an example, during her interview,  I queried special guest Rebecca E. Parsons (co-host and creator of Artistically Speaking Talk Show) about her chosen Word for 2011: SOAR.

“What color would you assign to this word, and the meaning it has for you at this time?” I asked her.

“Aqua” she replied, without missing a beat.  This only makes sense.  Rebecca lives in Florida, on island, near the water, and walks on the beach nearly every early morning.  The Aqua color of sea-blue water  which reflects the sky, with its associations of both airiness / expansion, and sublimity / depth would make it the perfect expression of Rebecca’s intention to  dive into her dreams, and Soar with them, making her cre8tive life vision a reality.

You can hear my Muze with Rebecca, as well as her complete extraordinary and  inspirational  interview with co-host Lyna Farkas on Artistically Speaking Talk Show on your computer anytime you wish.  I hope you will tune in to it, as well to Artissima, Blog of ArtiFactory Studio, for Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part Two, and join our Color Full exploration.

What a luscious, luminous world we have as finishers, decorative painters, muralists, artists, artisans and humans, to explore! Please join our Color Muze on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, and Cre8tive Compass Magazine, “where we honor your passion, and your vision, in this community we are co-creating”

Have YOU had an experience with Synesthesia lately?

If you feel so inspired, share YOUR sense and sensibility with us here.  We love to hear from you.  Remember, we are all experiencing this thing called Life, together.



Color Muze Quarterly: Our View on Hue II

Color Muze Quarterly: Our View on Hue II

This post is based on an article written for  Cre8tive Compass Magazine, published 01/2011.

Color Muze” is a five-minute segment on Artistically Speaking, a popular talk show on blog talk radio which airs at 6:30pm EST, most Sundays.   Color Muze comes on the show each third Sunday (mostly) at 7:15-ish EST.  Please join us for Color Muze Hues, News and Views, on Artistically Speaking Blog Talk Radio.  The good news is, you can hear the shows on your computer…anytime!

And now…let the COLOR begin!

Here is a round-up of some of our favorite Color Muze tips and tidbits from September, October and November of 2010 on Artistically Speaking.

Spearheaded by Rebecca E. Parsons, creative entrepreneur extraordinaire, and master decorative artist, Lyna FarkasArtistically Speaking has undergone some transformations in the New Year, and we are excited about what 2011 has in store for its listeners, and the readers of Cre8tive Compass Magazine.

In the future, we look forward to enhancing our Color Muze offerings with a variety of Color-Full articles to enrich your know-how, experience and practice of color. We look forward to continued “Muzing” with you about the fascinating, and ever-unfolding world of Color!

In September, we continued our discussion of The Color Wheel with a focus on complementary colors, and their relationship to each other.  The complements are sets of colors opposite each other on the color wheel, and comprised of one primary color (red, blue, yellow), and one secondary color (secondary colors result from the mixing of two primaries: purple, green and orange). Note: we are talking about pigment-based color mixing in this article.

The primary hues of red, yellow and blue set each other off when juxtaposed, as in the layered look created by these three rooms. The red room opens to the blue, which opens to the yellow (gold), creating an intense, saturated effect.

Likewise, when sets of complements, (opposite each other on the color wheel), are placed next to each other, or overlaid without transparency, they will enhance each other. Try using sets of complements in a room, on a canvass, or in a garden planting, and watch each color take on new life!

Yellow ~ Purple

Red ~ Green

Blue ~ Orange

Even when sets of complements are toned down, or made less bright,  they will set each other off when placed next to each other.

In fact, one way to subdue, “neutralize”, or gray down a color is to add some of its complement to it, thus lowering its level of intensity and saturation.

On the ceiling below, a semi-transparent rusty-orange-is layered over complement cerulean blue, subduing the intensity of the blue in areas. The coppery-orange of the stencil design is more opaque (paint, as opposed the more sheer glaze medium), thus mixes less with the blue below it, and stands out in greater contrast to its blue background.

Color can have a tremendous effect on our psychology, and emotional lives. In October we talked about how painting a kitchen’s dark, light-absorbing wood a golden-ochre color changed the life of its inhabitant.  A testament to the power of color, the homeowner declared, “The final outcome of the project was transformational. What had been a dark and brooding kitchen area became a light and inviting space that perfectly wove into the accent colors already in place. The end product created a welcoming environment.”


Illustrating the symbiotic relationship of light and color, we discussed how color on a ceiling can look very different then the same hue on a wall, depending on how the light hits and is absorbed by each surface. This concept is discussed beautifully in the book Color and Light: Luminous Atmospheres for Painted Rooms., by artists and colorists Donald Kauffman and Taffy Dahl.

Although in many places, November is a bit too cold to do exterior projects, during Thanksgiving month we shared about how to deal with choosing colors for exterior surfaces that are constantly shifting hue in the changing light outdoors.

One way is to observe the surface you are trying to match, or work with, such as a patio’s expanse of multi-colored Mexican tile, determine which color stands out as the most dominant, and base your treatment on that hue. We shared, and laughed about, a helpful simple trick when doing this: if you wear glasses, take them off!  You may find that you can see the fields or areas of colors you are trying to work with more clearly, without the distraction of “clear” vision! (And, make sure you aren’t wearing your sunglasses when observing, planning, and choosing colors for your project!)

We chatted a bit about the challenges of changing paint formulas, as Benjamin Moore and other vendors create a whole new set of more environmentally friendly color specs that don’t necessarily exactly match the old!

Anyone specifying color will be affected by this, and though we all appreciate our vendor’s attempts to “green” their products, we caution you to be prepared for some confusion in the interim, and apprise your Clients accordingly!  I have been told that the old Benjamin Moore color specs will continue to be sold while supplies last…then it’s out with the old, and in with the new!

Remember, any change, even the most exciting and positive, can create a bit of stress, as our senses, hearts, minds and souls take their own time to make the necessary adjustments.

Finally, we completed our discussion with a toe dip into the intriguing concept of Synethesia, or “Unity of the Senses”.   As states Frank L. Mahnke, President of the International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers, “Colors may evoke associations with odor and taste, appear heavy or light, give tactile impressions, be associated with sound, have volume, and temperature associations.”


We look forward to delving deeper into this fascinating material in further Color Muze segments!

What a luscious, luminous world we have as finishers, decorative painters, muralists, artists, artisans and humans, to explore! Please join our Color Muze on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, and Cre8tive Compass Magazine, “where we honor your passion, and your vision, in this community we are co-creating”

What Color-Full journeys have YOU taken lately?

If you feel so inspired, share them with us here.  We love to hear from you.  Remember, we are all journeying though this thing called Life, together.