ColorFULL of Meaning: YELLOW

ColorFULL of Meaning: YELLOW

Color Wheel

This series of posts will delve into the meanings, associations, and symbolism of color…starting with the color wheel above.  We have explored the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors…let’s go deeper with those now, and learn a bit about color psychology.  Now that’s a horse of a different color…but not necessarily a dark horse. Off to the colorFULL races. Let’s look now at the not always mellow YELLOW!

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YELLOW associates with happiness, joviality, cheerfulness, optimism, high-spirits, and the sun. Related to light, and the most luminous of colors,  it  can symbolize a bright future, hope, expansiveness, and wisdom. It is also associated with gold, and wealth!

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YELLOW is the color most often associated with the deity in many religions. Let’s remember that in Greek mythology,  Apollo is the god of light and the sun, as well as, truth, music and prophecy.  Perhaps that is where the idea of the “light of truth” originates!  The expansiveness of YELLOW means communication (which means mental and spiritual enlightenment).  It is the color of mail boxes in many places, and a symbol for the gods’ messenger, Mercury“You might have noticed the prevalence of the color yellow in stones and plants. YELLOW is a color of intellect and clarity. Wear yellow when you’re having a fuzzy-minded spell. Mercury’s attention is attracted to yellow, and offers clarity in response to it.”

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When too strong, it can become glaring (think of about glaring sunshine). It is the color that most captures our attention, and thus can express egoism and madness. It is used to indicate caution, as the Green “GO” light turns YELLOW as a warning before it turns Red, demanding  that we stop! It is the color of pedestrian crossings  more easily seen than white. YELLOW is also used to express cowardice, jealousy and betrayal (“Yellow-bellied“)

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In the world of advertising (and thus branding and marketing),  YELLOW communicates  activity and cheerfulness, expansiveness, search for new horizons, and  communication. Our reaction to YELLOW is primarily emotional. It alerts us, and activates out attention,and combined with  black, it communicates warning: think about bumblebees, black and YELLOW signage, the coloring of certain wild cats. Although we may respond to YELLOW with philosophical detachment, and also can awaken our anticipation.

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As regards to Synesthesia, or  associations with other senses, YELLOW associates this way: Sound – shrill, major key. Temperature –  hot/warm. Taste/Odor – sour. Tactile – smooth. Weight – light.

On an energetic level, YELLOW corresponds to the Solar Plexus Chakra, symbolizing knowledge and intellect, as well as being the seat of tension. It influences the solar plexus and the adrenal body.

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In conclusion, I am wishing you the happiness, enlightenment,  wealth and clarity of YELLOW, minus any egoism, betrayal or cowardice that this complex color associates with. May your paths be expansive, luminous, and paved with gold, or at least…YELLOW brick!

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ColorFULL of Meaning: BLUE

ColorFULL of Meaning: BLUE

Color Wheel

The next series of posts will delve into the meanings, associations, and symbolism of color…starting with the color wheel above.  We have explored the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors…let’s go deeper with those now, and learn a bit about color psychology.  Now that’s a horse of a different color…but not necessarily a dark horse. Off to the colorFULL races. Today let’s look at and feel the confidence-inspiring hue of BLUE!

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 BLUE can symbolize  calm and relaxation, security and comfort, tranquility, truth, spirituality and wisdom. It can feel sober, contemplative, and maternal. Nobility, dignity, poise, and reserve can all be associated or symbolized by hues of BLUE.

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BLUE can also be frightening, depressing, cold, melancholy and sad. We speak of Having the blues.

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We associate BLUE with passivity, quietness, wetness, cleanliness, having no odor, mental reflection,  sea and sky.  Light blue especially may associate with yearning or longing, as in the song lyrics, “Blue, blue, my world is blue…”

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BLUE can symbolize “The best”.  Think  blue ribbon (winning first place!) and blue chip (enduring, and of high quality and value) companies and stock.

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In the world of advertising (and thus branding and marketing),  BLUE communicates trustworthiness,  security, and quality, and is used to inspire confidence. BLUE may stimulate consciousness, consideration, and decision.  Our reaction to it is  primarily rational.  It expresses seriousness, clarification, certainty, and satisfaction.

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As regards to Synesthesia, or  associations with other senses, BLUE associates this way: Sound:  distant, flute to violin. Temperature: cool. Taste/Odor: no odor. Tactile: smooth to not solid. Weight: relatively light.

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On an energetic level, BLUE corresponds to the Larynx  Chakra, symbolizing religious inspiration, creativity, language and communication.  It influences the thyroid gland.

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Pale blue, royal blue, true blue, feeling blue, which BLUE are You? The answer to this may only be found moment to moment, as our moods, and our associations change with our feelings and circumstances. As we found in our exploration of RED, colors may be inflected many different ways, and even contain within themselves systems of opposites (associating with both Love and Hate, for example). Mysterious and ever fascinating, our study, knowledge and experience of color is ever-unfolding, a journey, rather than a destination.

 

ColorFULL of Meaning: RED

ColorFULL of Meaning: RED

Color Wheel

The next series of posts will delve into the meanings, associations, and symbolism of color…starting with the color wheel above.  We have explored the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors…let’s go deeper with those now, and learn a bit about color psychology.  Now that’s a horse of a different color…but not necessarily a dark horse. Off to the color FULL races…starting with the ever powerful, ever provocative, unique hue of RED….

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The primary associations we make with RED  are heat, fire  and blood, (“red-handed”),

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and by further association, wounds, pain, war, victims, and revolution, warmth, sunset, the  tropics, excitement, and enthusiasm.  Have you ever spoken in a “fiery” manner, or been told, “You’ve got fire in your belly!”?

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In Astrology, RED is associated with  Aries, the hot-tempered, impatient, aggressive leader,  and is the symbolic color for  Mars, god of war.  We know what color Mars the planet is!

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RED also associates with life, love, passion, activity, devotion, eroticism, strength and sacrifice,

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as well as aggression, intensity, fierceness, destruction and death.  Covering the gamut, RED is a color of extremes.

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Physiologically RED energizes, stimulates, excites, initially raises blood pressure, and stimulates the appetite. A good choice of color for dining rooms, restaurants, and other eating areas.

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RED can be provocative, (waving the  red flag at the bull to get it to charge),  a call to action, the signal of revolution. It is the color of combat, rebellion and dominance.

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RED can be the color of hate…

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or the color of love…

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Attention-getting RED may be the most  dynamic of all colors, dominating other hues. It is used across cultures in branding, marketing, publicity and advertising.

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The lens of the eye has to adjust to focus red light wavelengths, thus RED advances, making  red objects seem closer then they actually are.

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On an energetic level, RED corresponds to the Basis Chakra, symbolizing life, fertility, and reproduction,  and influencing the sex glands and organs.

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As regards to Synesthesia, or  associations with other senses RED associates this way: Sound- loud, trumpet. Temperature: warm-hot. Taste/Odor: sweet, strong. Tactile: firm, solid. Weight: heavy.

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On a psychological level, RED is instinctive, and sets an alarm mood. Our reaction to it is primarily emotional.

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In short, RED is a powerful color, the color of power, and through our own experience on all levels shows us the Power of Color!

Tertiaries: Color Fusion

Tertiaries: Color Fusion

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Recent post explored and celebrated the  Primary Colors and the Secondary Colors.  Today, we play with  those magical fusions of hue, the Tertiary Colors.

Tertiary1Red-orange

Tertiary2Red-violet

Tertiary3Blue-violet

Tertiary4Blue-green

Tertiary5Yellow-green

Tertiary6Yellow-orange

Tertiary colors are created by mixing one primary color, with one secondary color. The names of these mixtures describe their components: Red-orange, Red-Violet, Blue-violet, Blue-green, Yellow-green, Yellow-orange, as depicted above.

The Tertiary color star below lays them all out beautifully and clearly, expressing and elucidating the Traditional painting (RYB, or “Red, Yellow, Blue”) color relationships and mixtures.

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TertiaryCThe Tertiaries play out in nature…red-orange leaves show the glory of Fall.

TertiaryDThis exterior palette showcases hues of both red and blue-violet.

TertiaryEBlue-green expresses fresh and clean…fused as it is, from the colors of grass, new growth,  water and sky.

TertiaryB2Gradations of yellow-green look like the green grass was mixed with sunlight.

TertiaryAThis yellow-orange garage door brilliantly punctuates its gray exterior, creating an accent as powerful as the sun.

What tertiary colors have You used? I hope this post has illuminated these hues for You, and shown You their important place in the RYB color pantheon.

Secondary Colors are Primary Too

Secondary Colors are Primary Too

After posting last week about the Primary Colors (in the paint, print,  dye sense…as opposed to the “light” sense)…I had to give some color time to those marvelous combos of primary colors…the ever-loving, and equally important secondaries!

Web1Purple = Red + Blue

Web2Green= Blue + Yellow

Web3Orange = Yellow + Red

Color WheelInterestingly…the complimentary colors are comprised of colors that are directly opposite, or across from each other on the color wheel.  They are diametrically opposed…complete opposites. These dramatic duets are composed of the pairing of one primary color, and one secondary.  Since each secondary is composed of two primaries, complimentary pairs contain all three primaries between them, and effectually “cancel out” each other’s color properties (I.E.- “neutralize” each other), when mixed.

Web7On the contrary, when placed next or in proximity to each other, secondaries can create brilliant, arresting, and “can’t get enough of it’ color palettes. Seeing Green, orange and purple all together, adding brightness to a house exterior, well, it just wakes up your senses, ready or not!

Web5Purple and orange share a red “parent” color in common. The other two primaries, blue and yellow, are expressed within them as their other color “parents”. That brilliant, hot orange packs the proverbial palette punch as an unexpected accent and frame to the softer purple house body color.

Web6Here we have a pale orange (salmon), with a teal green, punctuated by bright purple flowers. Without the exuberant purple blooms nestled amongst their own green leaves, this exterior color palette might descend into the realm of the ho-hum.

Web8Orange (here with a rosy glow) and green share yellow as one half of each of their wholes.  It is almost impossible for yellow not to add warmth, relating, as it does, to the radiance and heat of the sun. The palette here is integrated with the green leaves of the foliage, which makes the warm rosy orange stand out all the more.

Have You designed solely with secondaries?  What have You come up with?  Working with secondaries, which express, but indirectly, the primaries they contain within them, can create strong, edgy color designs.  Perhaps not for the faint of color heart, but guaranteed to move your blood. A powerful way to tell a color story.

Primary Colors: the Red, Yellow and Blue of It

Primary Colors: the Red, Yellow and Blue of It

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Primary. Colors.  Those that cannot be created by any combination of two or more existing colors. Those from which all other (subtractive) colors are created: Red. Yellow. Blue.

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The blue here is a bit aqua…(has some yellow in it, reducing its primary blue-ness)…but the Blue, Red, Yellow concept remains the same.

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Primary colors standing tall…with both an aqua, and a “true” blue completing the range of primary hue.

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Red, Blue, Yellow (with a bit of orange hue thrown in) are bookish interspersed with black and white.

web8The Red of Red

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web7The Blue of Blue

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Blue, Yellow and Red grace a table setting, flanked by silver, white, gray.

Primary Colors…from whence all hue begins…and the first color story.

Compliments of the House, Inside and Out

Compliments of the House Inside and Out

Thinking about systems of opposites..which is exactly what complimentary colors are..colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel.

Sets of compliments are created from the combination of one of the three primary colors (those which cannot be mixed from any other colors: Red, Yellow, Blue), and one of the secondary colors (a color created from a combination of two of the primaries: Green, Orange, and Purple).

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Red and Green, Blue and Orange, and Yellow and Purple are the complimentary sets.  These powerful pairs play together in any number of ways. Like the relationship of black to white, they set each other off when placed next to each other, and “neutralize” each other when mixed together, creating potentially gorgeous  hues of gray.

Pairs of compliments can be used to great effect, and are big fun to design with. They can be used as accents, as a background and an accent, to create a sense of drama, or just to wake up our senses.  They can be found in nature…think of a field of red poppies amidst green grasses, a glowing orange sun sinking past a midnight blue horizon, a creamy yellow moon rising against a velvety purple sky.

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Green leaves outside and green window shades  inside set off the red and cream hand-painted design atop a Northern California Benihana Restaurant.

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We can almost taste the predominant apple green in this San Francisco Blush Organic Frozen Yogurt, and its intensity is heightened by the streaks of red framing the counter.

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“Pale” red…or, pink…sets off the strong, brilliant, almost fluorescent looking green. Because this pink is softer and paler than red, the intensity of putting the two together is mitigated, and gives the sense of Springtime holidays, rather than those of Winter!

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Here it is the green that is softer than the red…a minty, slightly earthy hue that relieves the strong pinky red, but also allows it to remain dominant.

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Copper, a form of orange, frames the mottled blue of this entryway and makes it pop.

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The strong orange accent brings the weathered blue into focus, and is framed by it, the whole softened by white.

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Copper against blue, mottled with a rusty hue illustrates the opposite effects of complimentary pairs: The orangey copper stands out against its blue compliment, which is  toned down by the addition of orangey red sponged over it.

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Orange and blue, the colors of fire and water (themselves opposites), work together to create a sense of drama in this otherworldly setting. or is it a film set?

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The new Dunn Edwards Paints Store in Marina Del Rey, CA uses the tension of opposites between orange and multiple blues to great effect!

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Turquoise and brick red, another version of the blue and orange complimentary pair play well together on this house in the foggy Sunset District of San Francisco.

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Gold and purple, a version of the compliments yellow and purple, are both associated with royalty, which add to their sense of drama, intensity, and just plain awesomeness when paired.

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The yellow ceiling gradates to orange, and provides sharp contrast to the purply-wine walls. Those who live here would have to love strong color!

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Creamy yellow both accents and relieves the dominant  periwinkle hue making it easier for our eye to rest upon it, and also more visually arresting. A beautiful combination!

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The yellow/purple compliments of ochre and wine, relieved and softened by white, accent the multitudinous ornament of this Victorian in glorious detail.  Without the white though,  the intensity might be tiring to our eyes. The white soothes and frames the punch that the complimentary relationship packs.

How have You used compliments, and the complimentary relationship in your creative endeavors? Architecture, design, color consulting…personal art and craft pieces?  Please share and enjoy, compliments of the house!

The Power of RED

The Power of RED

Whatever you want to say about it…the color RED elicits strong emotions. What are the associations and meanings  of this volatile color, and what does it symbolize to us?

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An effect of light: COLOR

From an energetic point of view, red is related to the Basis chakra (energy center), and influences the sex glands, and sexual energy.  It symbolizes life and reproduction.  Studies show that it is associated with both love and, to a lesser degree,  hatred,  as well as life, heat, fire and blood.

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Life Force

Red is arousing, stimulating,  and exciting, relating to both passion, strength, activity and warmth, as well as aggression, rage, intensity and ferocity.   One aspect, it would seem, that can be agreed upon, is that red is energizing!

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I am RED hear me roar!

 Synesthesia, the experience of a sensory “cross-over“, ” is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.“.  Thus a color may elicit associations with particular sounds, tastes, smells, or tactile sensations.  In the case of RED, is associates with loud sounds, specifically, the trumpet, as well as sweet and strong tastes and odors.  Red’s tactile association is firmness and solidity.

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Firmness, Solidity, Strength: holding it all together

What is in common here? Strength. No  half-way measures here…RED packs the proverbial “punch”.  Indeed, if we are punched, the area where we are impacted more often becomes red quickly, as the  the blow brings up our actual blood in response so healing/repair can begin immediately..  Seeing Red anyone?  Well, here’s hoping that doesn’t happen to You!

Let’s look at happy, healthy, healing and sometimes outrageous but always energizing uses of RED!

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Brilliant RED, setting off the adjacent gray, adds fire to this exterior architectural color scheme! Symmetry is avoided, but balance is achieved.

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Red does double duty here  energizing both door  and address numbers, again framed by cooling gray, which makes the red stand out that much more.

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The red door let’s us know exactly where to go to enter this charming Victorian, which also employs grays and blues and a touch of lavender as a counterbalance to the eye-catching accent door and architectural detail.

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The red side of this bar ties into other red hues in the flow-through living room, as well as the kitchen rug, and other details not pictured, such as a bright red teapot! Fresh white trim frames and accentuates it.

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Red is thought to stimulate the appetite, making it a natural choice for an eating area. In this home, the red of this dining room, and  the blue and gold of the adjoining hallway/entry and living room respectively create a potent triad of primary colors!

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Red associates with love and the heart, and thus is a natural, life affirming accent wall color choice for an organization like Dress for Success, which helps women prepare for fresh starts in their lives.

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The associations of red with grapes and wine may be obvious, especially to those for whom such spirits are their “life blood”. This red accent wall provides a vibrant frame around the vineyard scene.

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Red doesn’t always have to cover the wall to have an impact. Above, it is used as an energizing accent, and makes a statement in the context of the painting, textile, and rug. There is just enough to enliven a smallish room, and add warmth, layering and texture to the predominant hues of beige/cream, white and deep blue.

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The painting of red with turquoise blue in this narrow hallway packs the proverbial punch, and lights up our senses. The brightness and richness of both these colors holds our attention and really keeps us awake!

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Red and turquoise play nice together as strong accents on this painted chair, reminiscent of the Southwestern United States, in both imagery and hue.

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Setting each other off like black on white, the green background makes its compliment, red, pop! Loving ladybugs, anyone?

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Red is the perfect choice for a sidewalk “sandwich” sign, designed to attract attention, inform, point the way, and draw in customers!

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Flying high…the associations are here are clear!

What does RED mean to YOU?!

Intuitive Color

Intuitive Color

I have a bit of a confession to make.  As a color consultant, I go with my gut first- (after full-out discussions with the Client of course, and an assessment of their needs, wants, preferences and desires for their space, business or brand, and its color design).

I take a look at all the information, and at the raw data: the space, walls, architecture, logo, or existing visual identity, and then let my imagination wander.   After I identify my intuitive, initial, and well, gut response, I delve into my source material…my guides, charts, chapters and information garnered from my course of study at the IACC-NA (International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers of North America).

I cross-reference my initial, intuitive, and gut-level response with case studies, hard data, and historical info, and  analyze the color  choices from a number of vantage points including the psychological/associative, the sensory and the energetic.

In other words, how do colors make us feel emotionally, physically, and psychologically?  What emotions do we feel, or associate, what physical sensations do we experience, or associate, and what symbolic associations do we make with any particular hue..or combinations of hue?

Can we be healed by color? All of these effects, issues and questions come into play when choosing colors for the garden, the built environment, or a business, institution or organization.  There is no one right answer when determining, choosing or analyzing colors or color combinations for any purpose.  There are theories, the color wheel, associations, and our felt experience.  All of these must be brought to bear on our color decision.  Let’s look at some evocative color combinations in art, nature and life.  Evocative of…what?  Well might you ask.

Sometimes a complimentary ( opposite each other on the color wheel) color duo is necessary to add punch, accent or contrast, even within a range of softer, pastel hues.  Pale yellow and periwinkle blue cross into yellow and purple territory, creating contrast, without becoming jarring.

 Analogous colors (those next to each other on the color wheel), can work together to communicate a feeling, a brand,or a niche based on associations with nature. The analogous combination of blue and green  is a natural to express tranquility, life, truth, growth and hope.

Combinations of two secondary hues, such as green and lavender can create a feeling of both variegation and  harmony. The colors are contrasting, but also related, as they share the common element of blue.

We can look to the associations colors have with emotions to  better understand our reactions to them. Hatred can be associated with both red and black. This may be mitigated by the addition of white and pale yellow. How much each color is used is also a factor in how we respond to the color composition  as a whole.

Blue and orange, another complimentary pair, combine the tranquil and noble associations of blue with the happiness and joviality of orange. Tension or balance or…both?  We are held rapt by a sky both ethereal and dramatic.

Perhaps the employment of all three primary colors (red, yellow and blue) is the most dynamic of combos.  These colors, in near pure form, happily vie for attention in all their aspects, creating a brilliant, dynamic harmony.  This image keeps us awake, stimulates our minds, and enlivens our senses..  Like visual acupressure, all the points are touched..

Coming full circle, we return to the gradated harmonies of sea, mist, fog and sky…with the silhouette of a tree branch and a distant piece of the red-hued  Golden Gate Bridge thrown in for good measure.  Don’t “analyze this”…just let it wash over you…and trust your intuition, your gut response…they won’t lead  you wrong with color…ever.  ” This above all: to thine own self be true,” in color, and in life.   Is there a distinction?

Color for All Reasons I

Color for All Reasons I

We have so many situations in our lives when we are called upon to make color decisions.  Whether it be for our homes, our appearance, our mode of transport, our creative endeavors, our web presence, or our work….the colors we choose play a huge role in our lives.

Our color choices both express us…from the inside out, as well as affect how we are viewed..from the outside in.  Thus in our creative expressions, the “branding” of our businesses, and the sum total of our visual identities, color is a defining factor that communicates who we are, where we are at, and who we aspire to be, simultaneously.

I  recently had the opportunity to work with a beloved colleague who needed a color consultation for her marketing client.  The color purple had been chosen for the client’s logo, but my colleague thought the purple hue could be tweaked a bit, and wanted both a suggestion for a color to compliment the purple, as well as information on the meaning of the recommended colors.

After reading about the client and her business, and viewing the logo and the initial color of purple chosen, I knew the appropriate compliment was just that, the compliment of purple: yellow (well…gold/ochre tones of yellow).  Complimentary colors are those opposite each other on the color wheel, and just like black and white these dynamic duos set each other off, and well, compliment each other!

I know that blue would be too cool, and too close to purple, as it is one of its components. The same for red. I knew orange would be too bold with the purple, and green too varied.  All of these could be beautiful combinations, but not for the purpose we were trying to achieve, the communication of the client’s brand, or as I like to think of it, her essence; that which she has to offer.  It had to be gold…in an earthy, ochre tonality.  One way to tone down, or “kick back”  (bring down the intensity and brightness) of a color is to add a quotient of its complement, or opposite…in this case, purple!

I also recommended warming up the cool, ethereal shade of purple initially chosen by the client by upping its quotient of red, which would work well with the earthy tone of gold/ochre I suggested.

The meaning of the recommended colors was accessed from a number of vantage points, in regards to everything I was given to understand about the client, her message, her intentions, her history and life experience, her current situation, and future intentions, as well as her hopes, plans and purpose.  The colors had to reflect and communicate all of these, and feel completely authentic to her as well.

Please tune back in next week for part two of our series Color for all Reasons, and learn about the meaning of the colors for this very special client and her business. You can learn how You  can access the  colors that you choose from a variety of perspectives, that can illuminate, support and enrich your color choices, and hopefully make them less agonizing.

What color choices have YOU had to make lately, and how have you made them?

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

We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all adding color to this thing called Life, together.

Thanks for joining us on the journey…