The Wheel of Color

The Wheel of Color

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Last week I had the pleasure of teaching a color mixing program for adults at a local library. The “mixed” results were wonderful, and it was thrilling to see the participants get creative with color and the color wheel.

We talked about the vocabulary of color, and I offered the students an overview of some of the most common color terms. Color is a very complex subject, and could be the subject of study over many lifetimes, so I tried to keep it simple and clear, yet informative.

 One of the most important terms is Hue: The “color of a color”. Hue is what we usually mean when we ask “what color is that? Hue is the term for the pure spectrum colors commonly referred to by the color names, such as red, yellow and blue. Different hues are caused by different wavelengths of light. But the relationship of light and color (color is actually an “effect” of light) is a subject for a different post!

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I also touched upon Chromaticity. This property of color tells us how pure a hue is. That means there is no white, black, or gray in a color that has high Chroma. Often referred to as “colorfulness,” Chroma is the amount of identifiable hue in a color. A color without hue is achromatic or monochromatic and will look gray.

As the students moved around and through the color wheel mixing colors, they discovered how the purity of  a hue effected what could be mixed from it. Some reds are a bit closer to blue, and some to orange. Some blues are closer to purple, and others to green. This effects the hue of the secondary colors can be mixed from these primary colors. Thus color mixing can become a real adventure, a challenge, stupendous fun, and always a voyage of discovery.

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Students experienced “saturation” of the colors they worked with. Saturation, also known as “Intensity”,  describes the strength of a color.  Related to chromaticity, saturation tells us how a color looks under certain lighting conditions. A room painted a solid color will look different at night than in daylight.Think about Saturation in terms of pale or weak and pure or strong, NOT light or dark. The terms Purity, Intensity, Saturation and Chroma are often used interchangeably when discussing color.

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When mixing colors, hues can be desaturated (reduced in purity or weakened), in one of three ways: mixed with white to lighten the value (creating a tint), mixed with black to darken the value (shade), or mixed with gray or the complement to either lighten or darken the value ( tone).

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Students were given the three Primary Colors: (Paint colors) Red, Blue, Yellow to work with. These are the colors which cannot be mixed or created through combining other colors.

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They created Secondary Colors, which are mixtures of each two of the primary colors: Purple (blue + red), Orange, (yellow + red),  Green (yellow + blue).

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 We also explored Tertiary Colors which are mixtures of a primary and secondary color next to each other on the color wheel, and contain the names of those colors in their names! The Tertiary Colors are:  yellow-green, yellow- orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-green, and blue-violet. (For our purposes, we are using purple and violet interchangeably).

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Students also learned about Value, or the lightness or darkness of a color. When we describe a color as “light” or “dark”, we are discussing its value . The property of Value tells us how light or dark a color is, based on how close it is to white. For instance, yellow would be considered lighter than navy blue which in turn is lighter than black. The value of a color is also is also related its brightness.

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One of the most endlessly  fascinating color relationships is that of  Complementary Colors, which are color pairs  opposite or across from each other on the color wheel. Combining complimentary colors can produce “neutral” browns and grays, as their combination effectively “cancels out” the color properties of Hue, Value and Saturation. The complimentary pairs are made up of one primary and one secondary color, which are directly opposite each other on the color wheel:  blue and orange, yellow and purple, and red and green are compliments.

Above we see how the complimentary pair red and green, as well as blue and orange help this artist to reveal another face of color.

Color is science, but it is also emotional, expressive, and FUN! Find some paints, and start your color exploration… investigate, experiment, explore and experience the power of color to change your state of mind, or even how warm or cold you feel. We can actually FEEL a difference of 7 degrees in temperature, depending on what colors we see and are surrounded by. Such is the power of color. Color is powerful, but don’t forget to play with it, too!

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Color: Coming to (the) Terms

Color: Coming to (the) Terms

Hue: The “color of a color”. Hue is what we usually mean when we ask “what color is that?” Hue is the term for the pure spectrum colors commonly referred to by the “color names, such as red, yellow and blue. Different hues are caused by different wavelengths of light.

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Primary Colors: (Paint colors) Red, Blue, Yellow: the colors which cannot be mixed or created through combinations of other colors.

Secondary Colors: Mixtures of the primary colors: Purple, Orange, Green

Tertiary Colors: Mixtures of a primary and secondary color which are next to each other on the color wheel:: yellow-green, yellow- orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-green, blue-violet (For our purposes, we are using purple and violet to mean the same thing).

Complementary Colors: Colors which are opposite or across from each other on the color wheel. Combining complimentary colors can produce “neutral” browns and grays. . The complimentary pairs are made up of one primary and one secondary color: blue and orange, yellow and purple, and red and green are complimentary pairs.

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Saturation: Also known as “intensity,” saturation describes the strength of a color with respect to its value or lightness. Related to chromaticity, saturation tells us how a color looks under certain lighting conditions. A room painted a solid color will appear different at night than in daylight.Think about Saturation in terms of pale or weak and pure or strong, NOT light or dark.

In mixing colors hues can be desaturated (reduced in purity, weakened) in one of three ways: mix with white to lighten the value (tint), mix with black to darken the value (shade), or mix with gray or the complement to either lighten or darken the value ( tone).

Intensity: The terms Purity, Intensity, Saturation and Chroma are often used interchangeably when discussing color.

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Value: Lightness or darkness of a color, When we describe a color as “light” or “dark”, we are discussing its value. This property of color tells us how light or dark a color is based on how close it is to white. For instance, yellow would be considered lighter than navy blue which in turn is lighter than black.

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Tints: A color with white added to it.

Shades: A color with black added to it.

Tones: A color with gray added to it.

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Great Walls of Color

Great Walls of Color

I have been watching with interest the development of a magical mural being painted over the entire surface of an industrial-looking building  at Broadway and Cloverfield Streets in Santa Monica,, rising like a multi-hued phoenix over the gray pavement.

WEB1Intense gradations of color flow over the building, which look airbrushed…spray-painted. This looks like the color foundation. The windows are protected by taped plastic.

WEB2Detail painted in representational style goes up over the rich hues. The building stands in stark relief to its surroundings. Is that a little girl painting the Broadway side wall?

WEB3Close..an image of one…realistically rendered, yet with a certain comic book illustrative feel.

WEB5The look of drips, air brush painting, gradated color softly shifting in value, and graffiti art combine to create something striking, all rendered in stunning color.

WEB6Masterful use and blending of color creates a vista of skulls which seem to incorporate elements of urban art and graffiti and intensify the feeling of a “dreamscape”, or landscape of dreams.

This magnificently adorned structure is now the stuff of dreams and magic, lifting us out of our daily reverie, and shocking us out of ordinary reality, into another order of being.  Gratitudes to those that conceived of this gift, passed it through the powers that be, and made it happen.  Thank you for sharing with us a true example of art’s transformative power.

ColorFULL of Meaning: PURPLE

ColorFULL of Meaning: PURPLE

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This series of posts delves 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 play with  magical, mystical, provocative  PURPLE!

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  PURPLE associates with internalization, depth of feeling, dignity, wealth, exclusivity, mysticism, and magic. No wonder we are provoked by it.

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In Europe and America, PURPLE is the color most associated with vanity, extravagance, and individualism. Among the seven major sins, it represents vanity. PURPLE is a color which is designed to attract attention.

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Lighter, and containing more red, PURPLE can become sensual, seductive, secretive, sweet, cosmetic, intimate, and can associate with love. Closer to blue, it can associate with nobility, borne out by its association with royalty, and use in royal garments. It is the color most associated with  royalty. perhaps because  Tyrian purple was expensive. PURPLE is also associated with piety, and is religious color worn by priests.

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According to Max Lüscher /the  Lüscher color test, PURPLE (technically violet, a lighter shade of PURPLE) can also express magic and romance, as expressed above, as well as perception.

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Child of blue and red, PURPLE  suggests blue’s integrity, and red’s strength. PURPLE can also give lonely, mournful and pompous effect, hence its use in Victorian times as a color to be worn after the first year following the loss of a loved one. Certain PURPLE hues can appear, or “feel” unsettling, degenerate, morbid, and narcotic. When very dark in value, PURPLE can appear “strict”.

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As regards to Synesthesia, or  associations with other senses, PURPLE (technically violet)  associates this way: Sound: sad, deep, minor key/light PURPLE – weak and restrained. Temperature: depends on the ratio of red to blue in the hue. Taste/Odor: narcotic, heavy, sweet/light PURPLE – sweetly tangy. Tactile: velvety. Weight: heavy/light PURPLE – light

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On an energetic level, PURPLE (technically violet) corresponds to the vertex chakra, symbolizing wisdom and spiritual energy, and influencing the pituitary gland.

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How do YOU respond to PURPLE? Do You see it as passionate, provocative, pensive or playful? Does it express mourning , morbidity  or money to You? Are You attracted to its magic and mysticism, or penitence and piety?

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Kings and Cardinals have worn PURPLE.  It can express vanity, dignity, strictness and sensuality. PURPLE can seduce, exclude, unsettle and sedate. How do YOU weigh in on this bewitching and complex color which changes its meaning, feel and effect so drastically depending on its hue? What does PURPLE mean to YOU?

Coming to Terms: Brightness & Lightness

Coming to Terms: Brightness & Lightness

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Many of us love to “geek out’ on color…whether it be with tools, materials or terms.  There isn’t always agreement about what each term actually means, and some of them seem to overlap.  Maybe some color terms cannot be neatly tied up in  one definition.

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Let’s perceive this post as an exploration, an investigation, and a drilling down into some of the color terms we use every day.  Well, the color terms we may use often, without truly thinking about it, or considering what they mean.  Perception…that’s the ticket!  We’re going to take this slowly, step-by-step, working (and playing) through the Terms, like Noah’s Ark, two by two. We started at the beginning, with Color &  Hue.  We worked  our way through Colorfulness  & Chroma and Saturation & Intensity, (which was, no pun intended…tee hee…intense!)

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Now we are ready to wind up the series with a look at the concepts of “Brightness and Lightness“, which sounds like a definition of Grace.   May this exploration (just can’t quite call it a romp…drilling down into the definition of these Terms does take some fortitude!) be an illuminating experience for us all.

light8What is “Brightness”?

Brightness  is an attribute of visual perception in which a source appears to be radiating or reflecting light.[1] In other words, brightness is the perception elicited by the luminance of a visual target. This is a subjective attribute/property of an object being observed. 

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In other words..the experience of “brightness” is “subjective”, or personal which can vary from person to person, as I understand the latter definition.  We experience “brightness’, as a response to the scientific phenomena of “Luminance” ...a photometric measure of the luminous intensity per unit area of light travelling in a given direction. It [Luminance] describes the amount of light that passes through or is emitted from a particular area, and falls within a given solid angle.

Thus, Brightness is what we see/perceive/experience as a result of that travel and “fall” of Light.  Still poetic.

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What is “Lightness“…and how does it relate to “Brightness”…(besides rhyming with it…and creating poetry!)

Lightness  (sometimes called value or tone) is a property of a color, or a dimension of a color space, that is defined in a way to reflect the subjective brightness perception of a color for humans along a lightness–darkness axis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightness

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Key here is the phrase “…along a lightness-darkness axis.” “Value” is the property, aspect or dimension of color that references its relative lightness or darkness. We may speak of “That is a sky blue, lighter in value, then the darker midnight blue of the night sky.” Also note the use of the word “subjective” (“…defined in a way to reflect the subjective brightness perception of a color for humans…).  Our perception of Brightness is to at least some extent, personable and variable.  The measure of Luminance, which causes the level of brightness that we perceive, is an amount.  Lightness refers to our perception of Brightness in terms of lightness to darkness.  This is about as far as I am able to break it down at this time!

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At one time in San Francisco, there was a Theatre Company called “Thick Description“.  This term also refers to an explanation of behavior, as well as its context…so that it can become meaningful to to others.  Sounds about as “thick” as our attempt to clarify the meaning of the Color Terms we use.

We may have to work through the “Thick Descriptions”, but my hope is for this series of post to shed some Light on Color…for YOU!  Out of the Darkness..into the Light…and Color!  We know Color is an effect of Light…after all.

Cheers!

 


Brand of Colors: Color Etiquette for your Graphics

Brand of Colors: Color Etiquette for your Graphics

When friend, colleague and client Debbie Josendale  founder, creator, and president of 3C Marketing Group LLC contacted me to get my opinion on the colors in the graphic below, I dove in headfirst, and delivered an analysis of not only the colors, but their placement, qualities, and distribution.

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It is a process I find fascinating, and I never tire of both studying, and analyzing how, why, and where colors work best  for the purpose they are being employed…or not.  When the colors are “not working”, sometimes a slight tweak will do the trick; changing the placement, value, chroma, or saturation of a color, or how much of it is being used.  Other times, a greater overhaul of the color palette may be requited.

Debbie knew that something was not right in the graphic above…not in balance. She knew the feeling she wanted communicated wasn’t quite there yet.

I saw immediately that the central “bar” of color, surrounding the word “AUTHORITY” was too dark, and needed some brightness and warmth to fully communicate the idea of “AUTHORITY” as a positive, powerful, and in essence, beautiful thing to the viewer.  I suggested that instead of the deep, almost blackish green (on my screen, and in this age of individual internet screen and printers, who knows what any given pair of eyes is seeing…), that a a mixture of the top green, and bottom blue, IE, a warmer, clearer, yet still strong,  teal be used, to distill the positive message of leadership and problem-solving.

I also suggested that the lighter, brighter green, used at the bottom of the graphic be moved to the top, and the deeper blue at the top be used at the bottom, to “ground”  the “page”, as is done in architectural color consulting. Deeper, darker, and stronger color used on the foundation, or lower part of a building can “ground” it, making the building as a whole look more rooted, stable, and solid. By moving the green to the top of the “page” or view, I felt a more expansive, airy, and optimistic feeling could be created.

Finally, I advised that the top blue block, encasing the Map Marketing (TM) Method lettering be altered in some way that again, would make it less heavy, and also differentiate from the blocks of color below.  This is challenging, as this lettering/text serves as a logo, and thus changing even its scale could be tricky.

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Well, Deb  and her team made the majority of the adjustments I advised,  to the graphic.  Above you can see the beautiful teal color which replaces that dark blackish-green surrounding the word AUTHORITY”,  relieving it of that “black hole” feeling. Not only was the green from the original moved from the bottom of the piece to the top, but a cooler hue of green, closer to the central teal, and less yellow  is used, bringing the piece as a whole into greater color harmony. The blue at the bottom is also adjusted to be closer to the teal, a greener blue, rather than the original “royal” blue, and is now separated from the “title” color bar/block at the very top.

We are still working on what can be done with that top color block, which I feel still, is too strong and heavy, visually “bearing down” on the rest of the graphic. The left side of the top color “block” overhangs the words in color read sideways, which are surrounded by the white background, giving it the sense of being off-center, and bearing to the left.

Enlarging the white text inside that top blue block would alleviate this to some extent, but my advice would be to lose that top block of color altogether, and make the text itself blue, and maybe a bit larger and heavier, to fill the space.
We will see what 3C decides to do!

In any event, the general consensus is that the graphic as a whole is much improved, and better communicates the feeling its creator wants to project. Voila the power of color, how much of it is used, and where!

You can hear our “Color Muze” discussion on Rebecca E. Parsons‘s blog talk radio program, “Artistically Speaking Talk Show” on this subject, preceded by a wonderful interview with paper artist Helen Hiebert.  You can also catch previous “Color Muzes” here, in Cre8tive Compass Magazine.

From all of us to all of You: here’s wishing all of You the  right color mix for You and Your color needs…today!

Color: A Balancing Act 2

Color: A Balancing Act 2

What is the “emotional loading of a space”?

Says Helen Gurura,  an internationally accredited colour design consultant,  and executive vice-president of the International Association of Color Consultants (IACC). “Feelings can be evoked through colour at even an unconscious level and this gives rise to the term “colour emotion”, defined as “an associated feeling or emotion induced in the brain during the colour perception process”. In architectural psychology terminology this is called “the emotional loading of a space”.  Achieving balance in colour design clearly remains a challenge though.”

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In last week’s post, we looked at a variety of exterior architectural color schemes through the lens of visual “unity” and “complexity”, exploring what creates both over and under-stimulation,  and ways of creating balance between these extremes.  The goal is to  avoid both extreme unity/monotony/sensory deprivation which results in under-stimulation, and extreme complexity/variety which can over-stimulate the senses.  As Ms. Gurura states, “The balance between unity and complexity is the first and most important rule in the design of user-supportive architectural environments.”

Essentially, we expect, and I extrapolate from  this want and need  our senses to be moderately stimulated at all times.  I must assume that  dreaming accomplishes this when sleeping…even when mediating, we are often instructed to concentrate on the breath, a sensory experience.

The built environment is a place where we may posit our dreams, our imaginations, even our breath.  When we have been “doing battle”, even if that means fighting the good fight, out there in the world, we may need our homes to return to, relax, recharge, regroup  and  catch our breath in.

Let’s relax now, take a deep breath, and enjoy looking at some interiors that were designed through placement of color, pattern, texture, and more, to not only meet the functional needs and wants of those who live and breath there, but also to express their innermost hopes, dreams, wishes and desires…and perhaps even fantasies about themselves and their lives.

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The owner of a charming home in  Berkeley, Ca, wanted to transform his son’s old bedroom into a guest room, that his fiance would claim as her own special space in the house. His love of strong color, bold artwork, rich, layered patterns and textures  is mitigated to accommodate  her taste for beige by the choice of a neutral wall color and creamy trim.

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The wall color is taken to the bookcases, which frame not only scores of colorful books, but also his son’s powerful painting. By keeping the bookcases “color neutral”, what is contained within and between them is kept front and center, and the multitude of colors and patterns do not overwhelm.

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Warmth, richness, depth,and elegance reign in this master bedroom, where the deep earthy golden-brown-with hints of persimmon wall color compliments the multi-hued wood floor, the heavy dark wood furniture, and fresh white trim.  The trim is needed to relieve the strength of the other colors, and because the room is spacious, filled with strong lines and architectural details, and  large pieces.

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Although this room doesn’t have the plethora of  color, pattern and texture in its details like the Berkeley guest room above, the complexity of its space, containing recesses, alcoves and a window seat, the variance in the texture and light reflectance of its surfaces, and the expanse of textiles on bed and chair, give it just as much visual variety and interest. The room is beautifully balanced and filled with light, comfort and calm, with enough accent to engage the senses.

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Here again pale “neutral” (read, “beige” ) walls and tile, and white ceiling contain,  frame and unify strong color and bursts of pattern,  just as the streamlined silver frames contain but do not restrain the beautiful, bright  watercolor paintings created by the owners’ children. The effect of the paintings and blue-patterned vase is amplified by their reflection in the mirror, which adds a sense of space to a smaller room. The varying colors and patterns are also on different planes: the paintings on the wall parallel to our line of sight, the counter top perpendicular to it,  the vase parallel, but below the paintings, creating a layered effect, adding complexity and variety to the space.

spear_bspear_cThe serenity of this bedroom is achieved not only with soothing neutrals on wall and ceiling, but carrying that over into large swathes of textiles such as the bedspread, pillows and throw. Layers of texture and intricacy are created  through the “distressed” mirror frame which adds a painted and reflected scene to the visual mix, and intricately detailed and tasseled window treatment which adds sheen, pattern, and a whole other level of visual interest, as well as framing the window.  Who couldn’t relax in this room?  R & R is exactly what it is for…and as unbroken as possible. As opposed to…

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the “boudoir”, in the same unit!  This room will keep you awake, though it does share the element of faux fur pillows with the bedroom. Needless to say, the owners are style Franophiles, at least with this space, which is a second dwelling for them, an urban “get-away” from their home in Napa County, CA. In this alcove, they had big  fun “papering’ the walls with a  fabulous, French-feeling fabric, placing a gold “sunburst” above the divan ( covered in the same pattern), and “peppering” it with black fur pillows.  Isn’t it wonderful to have a room where you can just go wild with the design and decor? Shouldn’t we all have that?  This room is just a little jewel box of color and pattern, and we found exactly the right paint color for the ceiling, to pull out the rich cream hue  in the fabric, and soften the pinky-red surrounding it.  Because the fabric is so all-encompassing, the walls, curtain, divan and pillows covered in it merge into one, and the complexity and visual variety is contained in that one pattern. The room is small, the room is warm, the room is happy, and the room sings…a totally different song then the bedroom,  and  another example of “securing unity in the midst of variety….”, and achieving balance, as Helen Gurura would say!

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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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,

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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.

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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!

Color Blossoms

Color Blossoms

Floral Inspiration for Color Palettes, Choices, and Combinations


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

Red and black together can signify hatred, but not here.  The illuminated orangey-red flower hue,  the addition of green in the background and calming quality of the surrounding earth make this an energizing, and somehow ethereal combination.

Analogous colors  are next to each other on the color wheel, such as, yellow (a primary color) and orange (a secondary color). Because yellow is a part of orange, and red is a part of both orange and purple, there is an immediate harmony and relationship  between these colors.

Purple and orange are both secondary colors, which as mentioned above, share red as a “parent”.  With the surrounding green leaves, all three secondaries are represented, providing both balance, and visual interest.

We don’t speak of a “pale” red.  When red becomes lighter in value, tinted with white, it becomes pink. The strong intensity of  the  pink rose swathed in not quite complimentary green leaves is softened by the dots of yellow to one side of it, which relieves both our mental attention and our physical eyes.

  The yellow and orange “bouquet”, analogous colors again adjacent on the color wheel, rise out of a mass of green.  All three of which hues share yellow in common. The parchment and brick colors of the building serve as a harmonious backdrop, and do not compete with nature…


Blue, white, green…the colors of nature. Sky, clouds, and plants, with a slight yellow center in view.  Sunlight?  Think Greece, the Aegean Isles……the sea, the sky, white buildings in the distance, and a bright yellow sunflower flaunted by green pines.


Here, “black” earth surrounds brilliant yet tender hues of yellow, pink, red, and purple. Red and green are compliments, as are yellow and purple…thus providing the tension and the attraction of opposites.


Yellow has a direct relationship with green, being one of its “parent” colors, along with blue. The lighter value and greater intensity of the yellow above makes it pop, amidst the green.


A group of related colors, (hues of orange, including the brick wall) all have yellow in common, as do the green leaves.  The variation in value, intensity and tone of the colors, (and differences in texture of the natural, and made-made surfaces)  creates  visual interest, and  their inter-relatedness creates harmony,  thus a pleasing balance is achieved.

Tints of warm, edible-looking orange contrast with green leaves, which reflect the warmth and ruffly quality of the flower!

Our eye is led around the white on red table top, up the bright red vase, and into the glories of burgundy, violet, yellow and white, with some refreshing yellowing-green blossoms thrown in for good measure.  White softens the scheme, and relieves the richness of these very saturated colors. The red, burgundy and violet share red in common, the yellow and green, have yellow in common, the green and violet have blue in common, thus there is both contrast, and relatedness among the colors. The bright red is  the strongest in chroma, and draws our eye in and up to the floral arrangement.  The combination enlivens and energizes the table, the space, our appetites, and our minds, without overwhelming.

What color palettes for Your home, business or other spaces have been inspired by the glories and the subtleties, of nature?

Where  and how does color blossom for YOU?