Strike Me Pink…You Feel Me? Color Associations & You

Strike Me Pink…You Feel Me?

  Color Associations & You

Hello Gentle Readers of Artissima!  I am Debra Disman, your friendly Color Muze, here to share tasty tidbits of color wisdom…from here, there and everywhere.  (If you would like to know about the relationship between color, and taste..please check out previous posts on SYNESTHESIA, and….Synesthesia!)

April 15, 2012,on Rebecca E. Parsons wonderful, and inspiring  blog talk radio “Artistically Speaking Talk Show” ,  our Color Muze   found me in colorFULL convo with Rebecca, and her two highly cre8tive guests,  Deb Thompson, and Christy Gossett ; bloggers extraordinaire. We had a fun romp through a serious color association study, that I learned about from Mr.  Frank H. Mahnke, my instructor at the IACC-NA ( International Association of Colour Consultants/ Designers North America).  The  color skinny, as per this study?  Color associations may indeed be cross cultural…even universal, within a certain range, of both colors, and cultures.  Meaning that…in this study, the majority of participants had similar color associations.  What were they?  Well…please peruse my take and interpretation  below, and let the fun, and fascination, begin!   Less verbiage…let’s let “Les Couleures” speak for themselves!

Red   =   Love

Wouldn’t you know it?  (Heart, blood, life force, et al…)

However, when paired with black, the love may change to hatred…oh dear.

However, this may shift depending on the proportions of red to black, and the addition of another color, such as white.

The human presence, also may alter this association!

The obvious associations with sky and water seem to compel us to associate the color blue with peace and tranquility.

As well, green, with its relationship to springtime,  plants, and the rejuvenating life force of nature.

Although white may be the color of mourning in some cultures, the majority of participants associated the colors black and gray with mourning and sorrow.  Here the effect may be mitigated by an undertone of life giving green, paired with  fresh creamy trim.

The most common color associated with “happy” in this study was yellow…with orange coming in second.

What comes to mind when YOU think of orange? The color of joviality…[“French, probably from Italian giovale, from Old Italian, of Jupiter (regarded as the source of happiness”; from Latin joviālis of (the planet) Jupiter, considered by astrologers to foster good humour),

Warm oranges may be associated with appetite, and can be used effectually in kitchens and dining areas.

Here, the radiant, embracing orange wall and ceiling of this living room veer towards the yellow, or golden, also associated with “jovial”.

Fresh clear life affirmative green…no surprise that “LIFE” is a big association!

Slightly toned down, but still radiant!  Life Force…here we come!

Light-filled yellow…no orange here..with luminous associations.

More luminous-ness…an exterior faux finish featuring a deeper-valued texture over a lighter base,

popping on this building against an azure blue sky.  Yellow = sun/sunshine = light = luminous, indeed.

Speaking of blue…blue and violet associate with “noble”.

Noble blue door…this one does make a statement.

Purple has long been associated with royalty…and has been the color of royalty, or the “highest” of “noble blood”.  To obtain this once rare color, a fair amount of effort once had to be made.

“The actual color of Tyrian purple, the original color purple from which the name purple is derived, is the color of a dye extracted from a mollusk found on the shores of the city of Tyre in ancient Phoenicia (present day Lebanon) that in classical antiquity became a symbol of royalty because only the very wealthy could afford it. Therefore, Tyrian purple was also called imperial purple. (See Article).

Nature arranges colors so beautifully…in ways that delight us, and make our hearts sing… might her “color associations”  be the same as ours?

 What colors do YOU associate with “love”, “hatred”, “peace/tranquility”, “sorrow/mourning” “happiness”, “joviality”, “life”, “luminous”. or “noble”?

If you feel so inclined, please share them with us here.

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all color associating with this thing called Life, together.

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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.