Building Work

Building Work

In a recent after-school enrichment class, entitled aptly enough, “Art, Artists and Art History”, students created their own “built environments“, then painted mini-murals on them, inspired by artist / muralist Diego Rivera.

WebS.In the process, they learned about color mixing…

WebD.composition…

Web1. WebE.two and three-dimensional art,

WebQ.painting  techniques and how to cover a surface,

WebI.planning, drawing and imagination,

WebL.their color preferences, (“I like purple!” declared this 6 year-old artist),

WebP.how to create “windows and doors”,

WEB_04.and look through them,

WEB_03.and best of all, how to create their own special world, through color, imagery, texture, openings and space.

We celebrate this!

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The Big Draw LA: Drawing for All

The Big Draw LA: Drawing for All!

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of leading a drawing event for The Big Draw LA at the Fairview Branch of the Santa Monica Public Library.

The Library staff set up four large rectangular pieces of white paper on tables, for participants to work on together and create “Big Drawings” that would be hung on panels around the community room, and serve as decor, color, inspiration and fun!

Children from the ages of two to twelve showed up with parents, and jumped into the activity with gusto! Moms and Dads followed suite….

WEB3They used a myriad of colored pencils…

WEB7and markers..large and small.

WEB6Artist moms got the opportunity to play with color, shape, line and pattern…

WEB9and some young artist chose to work on their own drawings, separate from the group projects,

WEB93c0mplete with lots of detail.

WEB91Toy horses were outlined,

WEB92and rainbows were born.

WEB95The result was magnificent…the result of many artistic voices.. An enterprising eleven-year-old started this piece off by drawing in the horizon line, and adding a few mountains rising up above it, to show distance. The composition grew from there, as each participating artist added their “thing”. Slowly the land and sky developed into a wonder world.

WEB99 Rowan volunteered to be outlined on  another sheet,

WEB94and so did Ellie on yet another.

WEB96It took the devoted efforts of several drawers coloring to make this piece complete. Are his hands purple, or is he wearing purple gloves?

WEB97Two young artists with a  love of green created the border around the edge of this drawing, then Ellie was outlined inside. parents and children worked together to make the dress as green as the one she was wearing. What a happy face!

WEB98As patrons came into the community room, they were invited to outline their hand along the edges of the fourth piece of paper, then design, develop and decorate it, adding their name if they wanted to.

WEB990The community room is now alive with the work of the community.

WEB991Line, shape, color, space, composition, perspective, proportion, scale…who knew learning about these could be so fun! Learning by doing, making art in community, and having a blast at The Big Draw LA, at The Fairview Branch Library

Many thanks to The Fairview Branch Library Manager, Erica Cuyugan, for the vision and commitment to make this event possible.  Thank  you Erica!!!

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The Big Draw: Exploring Elements of Drawing

The Big Draw: Exploring Elements of Drawing

This coming Saturday I will be leading a drawing program at The Fairview Library in Santa Monica, as part of The Big Draw LA.  I am hoping to get some photos of participants creating big murals on white butcher paper with drawing tools and techniques that The Library and I provide!  Here I share the information, concepts, terms and techniques I plan to share with them tomorrow in a handout, and through our drawing projects, which will then grace the library’s walls.

I invite you to learn, study, play, enjoy…and DRAW!

Composition is the placement, arrangement, combination or organization of visual or pictorial elements such as line and shape in a work of art. Composition is not the subject or theme of a work. It is the arrangement of everything we see within the borders of a drawing or other work.

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The foreground, middle ground, and background are three parts of a composition that can help to create the illusion, or sense of depth in a flat or two-dimensional artwork such as a drawing or painting. The foreground is what appears closest to the viewer, while the background looks furthest from the viewer. The middle ground is located between both the foreground and background.space2

Line is the most basic element of the drawing. Lines span a distance between two points. Lines are what separate one area of the drawing from the other. A single line will divide your drawing into two areas. The more lines that are added, the more complex and detailed your drawing becomes. A line has a width, direction, and length. A line’s width is sometimes called its “thickness”. Lines can be all the same width or a single line can vary in width. A line can start out thin, get thicker, and then get thin again, depending on your drawing tool, and how you use it. Lines of varying widths can add interest to your drawing!

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Shape is another important element of visual art. Shapes are flat spaces enclosed by lines. The boundaries of shapes are, or create, lines. Shapes are limited to two dimensions: length and width.

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Shapes can be geometric, such as squares, circles, or triangles, or organic, such as the natural shape of a puddle, cloud or leaf.

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Geometric shapes have clear edge, are precise, and related to mathematical principles. They can require a guiding tool to draw such as a ruler. Geometric shapes usually look organized, and have names such as circle, square or rectangle. Most geometric shapes are made by humans, and don’t often appear in nature though crystals, which appear in nature, are considered to be geometric.

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Organic shapes have less well-defined edges, a natural look, and are usually outlined in curvy lines. They are typically irregular and asymmetrical (not exactly the same on both sides). Organic shapes usually do not have a name. They aren’t circles or squares. People, trees, flowers and other things that have been alive or are alive are usually made up of organic shapes.

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Space is the distance or area around, between, above, below or within what is put into the composition. Space includes the background, foreground and middle ground of a composition. There are two kinds of space: Positive and Negative Space.

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Positive space is best described as the areas in a work of art that are the subjects or actual things being shown. The area around the positive space is called the negative space. Negative space is area around and between the subjects or things being shown in a work of art. Which is the negative space, and which is the positive space in the image below?

space1Is the negative space the black shapes around the white goblet, or is it the white space between the two faces? Is the positive space the white goblet, or the black faces?

Texture, another element of art, is the way a three-dimensional surface feels to the touch, or how the surface of a two-dimensional or flat work looks like it might feel if touched, I.E., its “visual feel”.

texture1Visual Textures created through Drawing

Objects appear smaller and closer together as they recede in the distance. This is how we see. Things aren’t actually smaller and closer together when they are farther away, they just look that way, and how our eyes perceive distance. This is called perspective.

perspective7

Perspective is the illusion the further away things are, the smaller they appear. Perspective drawing is a system of representing the way that objects appear to get smaller and closer together, the further away they are.  To make something appear to be farther away from the viewer than the picture plane, draw it smaller than the object that is closer to the picture plane.

perspective2

Perspective is the technique used to represent a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional/flat surface, such as a piece of paper, in a way that looks realistic and accurate, as we would see it in real life. Perspective is used to make a flat image look as though it has space and depth.

perspective3

The horizon (or skyline) is the line that we perceive as separating earth (which includes bodies of water on earth) from sky. The horizon line is also known as eye level. In real life, the horizon is where the land (or sea) and sky meet. In creating a flat/two-dimensional work of visual art, it is the level your eyes are at, an imaginary line to which things recede.

perspective1Horizon line…at the horizon

As things get further away, from us, they seem smaller and closer together. When they get far enough away, distances become ever tinier and so form a single point, called the vanishing point.

perspective8

In perspective drawing, the vanishing point is the spot on the horizon line where receding parallel lines appear to come together, or converge. It is the point where buildings, rails, roads and anything in the background of a drawing or other flat work of art seem to converge into one single point on the horizon, where objects seem to disappear.

perspective4

Foreshortening is a technique used in perspective to create the illusion of an object receding strongly into the distance or background. .Foreshortening is used in drawing to create a sense of depth and make objects look like they are going back in space. Of course they aren’t…they are drawn on a flat piece of paper or other two-dimensional surface.

foreshort1

An example of actual foreshortening is when you look down a long straight road lined with trees and the two edges of the road appear to move towards each other, while the trees look smaller the further away from you they are…until they seem to disappear altogether, at the vanishing point.

perspective5

Proportion is a principle of visual art that refers the size of one picture element in relation to the size of another, such as the size of the head in relation to the rest of the body.

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Proportion can give a sense of balance and harmony to a drawing, or other piece of visual art. It is similar to scale, which is how one object relates or compares to another one in size, such as how a dog relates to a cat, or a cat to a rabbit, as regards to size.

proportion1

If you happen to be around the Los Angeles Area tomorrow, October 25th, and want to drop into the Fairview library between 12 and 3PM and join in the creative fun, please do! Until then, maybe this post can illuminate and inform your approach to drawing, and broaden your knowledge and even your skill!

  Practice makes, well, there is no perfection, but practice certainly does help, so, draw on! 

Color: A Balancing Act

Color: A Balancing Act

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We have all had the experience of sensory overload..as well as sensory deprivation.  We may experience overload when entering an environment filled with loud sounds, bright colors, an array of patterns,  and a variety of textures…to say nothing of what we may be sniffing, tasting or touching there.

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We may experience sense of deprivation when a space is too quiet, neutral, bland, uninteresting, and feels just plain boring.  We know something is “wrong”, but we may not be able to put our finger on it, literally speaking, especially if there is a dearth of textures, colors, patterns, and other visual stimuli.

WEB 3

Although our tolerance for visual complexity and variety, as well as unity and coherency varies from person to person, we do expect, and maybe even need, our senses to be stimulated to some extent at all times. Perhaps we are experiencing this through dreams while we are sleeping!

WEB bo1

Not surprisingly, even our health and physical well-being can be affected by exposure to over or under-stimulation. Extreme unity, or monotony, can result in restlessness, irritation, a lowered ability to concentrate, wandering attention, and an overly strong emotional response.  Extreme complexity/variety can result in higher blood pressure, pulse rate, and muscle tension.  Not a good thing, as we can probably all agree.

WEBa

Knowing this, our job as color consultants/designers becomes charged with even greater purpose and meaning…how to create environments of balance (which doesn’t mean symmetry or the sum of equal parts, which might become monotonous), which support both our physical and our emotional well-being, as well as the function of the spaces themselves, and even our life’s purpose!

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Before we get either too lofty, or too weighty about all this, lets look at some color designs and palettes that achieve balance in a variety of different ways. I hope to continue to investigate, explore and disseminate the subject of color balance in further posts. Have fun!

26a

A nearly monochrome palette relieved by creamy white trim can be stately and restful, especially when enlivened by a multitude of decorative detail.

dia_a

Even a deep, rich, dominating hue such as a  burgundy purple can be set off by accents of an even deeper value. The dramatic shift to white in the trim frames a building that the owner wanted to simplify and streamline, while still acknowledging  its details.

B4A slight amplification in field color from the original,

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 makes this building more satisfying to look at, as it is more “complex”(contains more color) . The addition of a dark accent color on the window sashes, and a more intense door color add variety, which also increases complexity, and protects against visual monotony.

clay_a

The temptation to “go color crazy” on this magnificent Queen Anne Victorian could have created so much complexity, that our attention may have been distracted from actually seeing and enjoying its beautiful period details, such as the shift in shingle pattern, decorative insets, and dentils.

clay_cInstead, by limiting the colors to a set of resonant neutrals (field color, field color 200% formula and off white trim color), and adding accents in earthy hues of complimentary sage green and brick-red with just a touch of gold leaf,

clay_b

we are not so overstimulated by too much variety, and can actually take in and enjoy the details, colors and shapes that integrate to create a unified whole.

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The complex but neutral beige body color, and white trim are punctuated by a rich red service door, a singular detail on this building, which has very little embellishment, or even trim.

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As the owner wanted to reduce the possibility of visual complexity, subtle interest is brought in by the use of a slightly darker and more intense foundation color, which grounds and visually supports the structure. Thus both over and under-stimulation are avoided, and we experience enough visual simulation to provide a pleasing experience physically and emotionally.

pierce

The size, style,, “stateliness” and foliage around a structure can influence color design choices, as well as how much its body is broken up  by its trim. Here the deep blue-green color of the house body is significantly relieved by the crisp white trim and garage door, as well as bright green foliage, which becomes a color accent or counterpoint to the dominating blue and white. As the building reads  tall and thin, our eye is drawn upward to the sky, which completes the picture. Not seen here is the warm brown accent color used on the planters in both the entry way and back patio, which provide  contrast to the blue and green, and complete the triad of blue, green and brown “nature’ colors.

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A unified palette can make a building stand out…even if it doesn’t contain an extreme shift in accent color. Our richly hued “old  burgundy” beauty commands the street view here.  All  the more regal for being contained and restrained in color variety, the palette is retrained yet fun, making a statement without overwhelming our senses. The building itself serves as an accent for a block dominated by pale, nondescript and rather unimaginative hues.  Maybe, stimulated, but not overstimulated by our royal example, the neighbors will be inspired to follow suite and add more local color!

If You are feeling either over, or under-stimulated in your environment, try experimenting with adding or subtracting color, pattern, texture,  changing the value (light to dark), or intensity/saturation (brightness) of the colors, changing your accent color to the compliment of the dominant color in the space, or if there is no dominant color, creating one.

You may just find yourself feeling better on all fronts!

Until next time…wishing you balance, variation, complexity, unity and coherence in your Life!

The Art of Home

The Art of Home: Vignettes I

Home is where the heart is…and home is where the art is, too.  For so many of us, they way we arrange our “stuff”, has as much to do with our heart and soul, our needs, and desires, and the core of our personality, as do our color loves and hates, what we choose and don’t choose to wear, how we eat,  and the company we keep.

What do we keep out, and around, and why do we do so?  Well, maybe the why doesn’t matter as much as the rush of love, appreciation, gratification or comfort that we feel when we see our “stuff” arranged in “vignettes” or groupings,  that may or may not communicate to other people.  What matters is how these compositions of objects resonate with us, what scenes they set, and the meaning that a particular grouping of collected objects has for us.  Vignettes are creations.

Sometimes the actual objects we choose to arrange in a particular way hold a conscious meaning for us…other times, we may not know why we are drawn to something, and why it seems to go with, to fit with, even to seem to need to be with, something else.

But this is part of the mystery, part of the fun.  New connections may be made between objects, and within ourselves, and old ones reinforced or recreated, through our following a seeming whim.

Sometimes we place together objects that have been given to us, or created for us by loved ones, or those we once knew and loved, and these placements can create a presence in our homes, place of business, or creative spaces, that stirs memories, offers reassurance,  or honors the past or present.

Objects speak, and their juxtaposition may inspire, encourage, calm, or just  seem (IE- feel) “right”.  The artist Richard Diebenkorn said, “Now, the idea is to get everything right-it’s not just color or form or space or line-it’s everything all at once.”  The amazing exhibition of his stunning Ocean Park Series, at the Orange County Museum of Art  (through May 27, 2012), is a testament to this quest.

The visual elements of form, color, texture, pattern, imagery, shape and space, of course, play into how we are moved, and  compelled  to put things together.  The combination of these elements can animate a space, and thus ourselves,  as we look at and live in it.  As we are in it.  Thus affecting the way we are.

When I placed the bird in a position where it looked like it was about to drink from the plate, something clicked.  I knew the vignette, the arrangement, the visual story, was, well, right.  I hope it looks and feels that way to other people, but the feeling of rightness, that “click”, was so strong that other people’s opinions (save that of  my beloved husband and sharer of our space) just really don’t matter!  The vignette is right for us, in the space we call home.

What vignettes have you created that click for you in your home, office, studio, or other environment?

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

We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all trying to get things “right” in this thing called Life, together.

Windows to the Soul

Windows to the Soul

Picking up where the last post left off…let this be a not quite seamless transition to further observations on how we employ nature to define and manipulate the architectural space, and thus our own sense of space, and soul.

Whether plants…foliage…hedge or vine, are used to create, or frame a window, or many windows, the result is by turns arresting, intriguing, mysterious and playful.  The endless  resourcefulness of humans, harnessing the abundance and generosity of nature, responds to  to our need for connection, intimacy, solitude and privacy, through the medium of design: shape, form, texture, and color- a function of light.

In the meantime, seeing through apertures  framed in a plethora of leaves…is…fun!  And, enlivening.  And fun.

Peekaboo to the Church on the other side of the hedge…

Ivy league feel…giving a sense of the venerable…

Almost done…

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, do windows offer a view to the soul of a building?  Or, are windows the eyes through which a building views its surroundings,  and sees our souls?

Either way it seems,  some aspect of  soul is involved.

Viva la Natura!

Hedge Funz

Hedge Funz

Peekaboo…

The use of hedges in Los Angeles…specifically Santa Monica and Venice, is fascinating.   In a place where folks seem completely at ease leaving their door wide open of a warm night, extraordinary arrangements of hedges which seem to be there to provide privacy, rule.

They may frame a doorway,

or a passageway, to be more exact.

changing size, height and shape.

They may enhance the mystery of a portal,

the thickness of a wall,

or the function of a fence.

They may be created from bamboo,

or have a topiary feel.

Or, they may define the distance from front to back, to front again.

Whatever their apparent purpose, the ubiquitous, albeit, creatively engineered hedge seems to have one function underneath it all.

To create privacy using the materials of nature.

In the process, they create some very interesting spaces indeed.

What sort of hedge funz do YOU have?

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

We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all hedging our betz in this Life, Together.

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.


Featured Work: A Mid-Century Tale

Featured Work: A  Mid-Century Tale

Once upon a time,  in March of 2011, I had two wonderful and creative Clients who wanted a special decorative / design application on a perfectly blank wall in their master bedroom.

Here’s where we started…

And..here’s where we ended up.

So…what happened in-between?

Well, having done a custom application in their guest room,

I had familiarity with the Clients’  home, tastes, design style, and color preferences.  It was immediately apparent upon entering their space: these Clients have a passion for  Mid-Century/ retro style and design.

Their strong affinity for hues of orange fit right into their Mid-C sensibility.

The Clients’ unified approach to their home decor and design is expressed in just about every detail of their space, including

tray tables…

shower curtains….

coasters,

textiles,

a sunburst clock,

vases (and furniture and ornaments),

and more vases (and furniture and ornaments).

We began our collaboration with a small gem of an idea…a snippet of  inspirational pattern that caught my Clients’ sensitive eye.

We played with the scale, the sizing and the spacing,

 

and I created custom stencils.

We did the math (a few times…), and I marked out the pattern on the wall with chalk.

I did the first stencil application. The pattern emerged, and,  the wall came alive…  the pattern just animated that wall!

The secondary stencil animated the pattern, design, and wall surface yet further.

Little rings of fire did their job…added energy, snap, crackle and pop that was just, well, FUN.  (As my Clients are).

The result, though we had planned for it carefully, surprised us all in its whimsy, uniqueness, and aliveness.  (Also qualities of my Clients.)

Somehow the wall, and the design, the pattern  and the treatment became more than the sum of their parts…

one of the happiest outcomes of the Arts!

And here we have the happy ending of the tale…or, is it a beginning?

Have YOU ever had the experience of your collaborations and creations becoming more than the sum of their parts?

If you feel so inspired,  please share it with us here.  We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all creating this story of our LIVES, together.

May You have JOY and Aliveness in your Life, as you Live it!



Cacophony to Calm…Compensating with Color

 Cacophony to Calm…Compensating with Color

Can color “theory” heal?   If healing means balancing, compensating, and otherwise enhancing the quality of a space, object, light source, or even our bodies, then I believe it can.

Our April 17, 2011 Color Muze  on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, “muzed” about how color can be used to adjust our perception of sound, or the lack of it, and thus balance or “heal” an environment through our sense of seeing, and its potential effect on our sense of hearing.  This is an aspect of the phenomenon of “Synesthesia”, or “Unity of the Senses”, as IACC-NA (International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers-North America)  lecturer, Frank H. Mahnke, terms it.  The idea being  that our perception of color can associate with our perception of another sense, such as hearing.

Warm colors (from red to yellow-green on the color wheel), associate with loudness.


Image Source

Cool colors (from green to red-violet on the color wheel) associate with quietness.

This is reflected in our language, the way we talk about our environment, or even our feelings, in terms of color. I am not sure I have ever heard anyone refer to a quiet (or cool) red, though anything is possible!  On the contrary, I remember my mother describing feelings of anger as “Seeing red.”

By comparison, people may speak of a  quieting their emotions when they enter a room in which a “cool” blue predominates.

It is interesting to view the two together…(albeit different hues and values of red and blue).

Thus if we wish to compensate for noise problems in a space, we can add more “cooling” colors such as  blues, blue greens, perhaps even a cool blue-violet. Warm to hot colors such a saturated reds, and “hot” oranges or yellows will tend to exacerbate our sense of being in a noisy environment, which can be significant in any setting where concentration is important.

To relieve a “too-quiet” or tomb-like atmosphere in a room, and add energy, warmer (and lighter) colors may be applied, such as yellow-green, golden-yellow, reds, oranges or “hot” purples (red-violets).

It is fascinating, and fun to see the sound associations the Henrich Frieling, Director of the Institute of Color Psychology assigns to a range of colors:

Red– loud, trumpet

Pink – soft, delicate

Orange – loud, major key

Brown – dark, deep minor key

Gold-Yellow – fanfare, major key

Yellow – shrill, major key

Yellow-Green – high-pitched, minor key

Green – muffled when dull, shrill when saturated

Green-Blue – soft

Blue – distant, flute to violin

Ultramarine – dark, deep, more minor key

Violet – sad, deep, minor key

Light-Purple – weak, restrained

Crimson – powerful, stately

It really begs the question…what might a musician, singer, or music therapist have to say about this?  What about Sharry Edwards, pioneer in the study of Human BioAcoustic Biology…might she have a “color link” to her work and theories on healing the body through sound?

Perhaps a subject for another post…

Have you used color to compensate for too much noise, or not enough sound in your own or other spaces? Have you felt the effect of color healing in regards to your, or your Clients’ auditory environment?  What is YOUR experience with Synesthesia, in regards to the relationship of sight to sound, the visual to the audible?

If you feel so inspired, please share your insights with us here.  We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all seeking the balance in this thing called Life, together.

Here’s wishing you healing wherever you need it most, in your Life right here, right now.  Cheers!