Brand of Colors

Brand of Colors

A recent color consultation and analysis got me thinking…about why we choose the colors that we do.  Of course we can analyze, assess from various vantage points, provide argumentation to support our choices…but really, why do we just feel like some colors  and combinations of colors are just “right” for a particular purpose, venue or view?

I think it all comes down to how a color “makes us” feel.  What emotions, and sensory reactions we have when we gaze upon that part of the light color spectrum that is NOT absorbed by the surface we are looking at.

Take green, for example, specifically the fresh, bright hue of green the Client of my marketing colleague, (who had brought me in to analyze, assess and consult on her client’s color choice, and suggest a tandem hue) was drawn to.

Some of the associations with green include Life, Growth, Nature, Springtime, Immortality, Hope, and Resurrection. Not bad for a “secondary” color!

Green “sounds” soft to shrill, “feels” smooth to damp, “tastes” and “smells”  juicy, sour, or tangy, and

can be “cooler” or “warmer”, “heavier’ or “lighter” depending on the ratio of its components,  yellow to blue.  Energetically, green relates to the “Heart Chakra“,  representing love, sympathy and  harmony, and influencing the heart, and the thymus gland.

What might one put with green, a bright, fresh green, that wouldn’t contrast with it so greatly as to change its character?  Although green and its complement red (or even pink) are a dynamic duo, unless associations of Yuletide, India, or the tension of opposites are desired…another choice must be made.

Hmm…green and orange, green and purple or violet…still too dynamic…as both of these secondaries have red in them.  Yellow would be too similar to the Client’s chosen green in warmth and temperament, containing too much of light and bright and luminous and warm.  Yellow, I felt, would  compete with the green, and not provide the contrast necessary for visual interest.

The Client’s brandmark is a penguin…ah…images of sea and sky emerge.   I ‘saw’ a Teal Blue…that would contrast with the green as a hue darker in value, and provide a coolness that would more subtly offset the bright and warm green,

Blue and green both associate with Tranquility and Peace.  They both suggest aspects of nature.  Blue relates to the Larynx Chakra.  It stands for Religious inspiration as well as creativity, language, and communication, (the Larnyx is often referred to as the “voice box”!), and it influences the Thyroid gland.

Blue “sounds” distant, or soft, it “feels” smooth, it “tastes” and “smells” odorless or fresh, to salty.  It’s perceived “weight” tends to the heavier, and more solid, it’s “temperature, to the cool.  Blue ‘s associations include nobility, contemplation,  truth, spirituality, wisdom, dignity, trustworthiness, value, calm, security, poise, reserve, sea and sky.

We can imagine then, when we put blue and green together, that the effect will be refreshing, and  “natural”,  both warm and cool,  embodying the warm, harmonious heart of love, and the inspired, creative communication of  language, symbol, and of course, color!

If You would like to know who wrote the book on color consultation and design, please investigate the International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers, and the writings and teachings of Frank H. Mahnke.  There is a whole world of color exploration awaiting You out there…and within!

To hear more about color choices and analysis, the how and the why, tune into my Color Muze on  Artistically Speaking Talk Show with Rebecca E. Parsons.

Give it a try…turn YOUR senses on and rock Your world, with Color!

If You feel so inclined…let us know how You do it!

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

Strike Me Pink…You Feel Me?

  Color Associations & You

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

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

Red   =   Love

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

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

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

The human presence, also may alter this association!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Noble blue door…this one does make a statement.

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

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

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

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

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

We love to hear from You.

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

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…

Color Ground

Color Ground
The colors we clothe our buildings in, and the materials we use to build them can have a significant effect on how solid, safe, and grounded they appear.  And, I  might add, in addition to paint color, let’s not forget that the wood, brick, stone, concrete, metal and other natural and industrial materials we build with, have color too.  Add to this the by turns rapturous, earthy, luminous, bold, sublime, and subtle colors of nature, and you have a complex picture of the elements that go into making where we live, work and play picture perfect..or not.

In general, darker, richer, deeper, more saturated, brighter, warmer and more intense colors appear heavier, and thus may seem to “pull downward” towards the, in most cases, ground!  Placing them above a lighter, airier, softer, cooler,  paler, duller, less saturated colors may give the impression of pressing or pushing down upon something less substantial, creating a sense of pressure, ungroundedness, or even danger.  Who wants to feel like the heavier-looking second story might come crashing down through its weaker-looking support, or foundation?

The building above is grounded not only by its strong, dark burgundy red garage door, but also by the heavy foliage and hedge shrubbery which nearly obscures its foundation (the lower part of the structure upon which the rest of the building rests). The cream-colored concrete, red roof tile and strongly patterned brick provide contrast and a  variety of color and materials, but, particularly because of the grounding effect of the dark green, highly textural foliage, do not seem too heavy for the foundation to bear.

The UMG (Universal Music Group) office building in Santa Monica, CA is grounded by a strong, deep, earthy brick-red, which seems to support the pale pink upper above, though the entire structure is punctuated by a multitude of windows. Palms, parkway and other landscaping in front also support this grounded effect.

A similar outcome is achieved by juxtaposing a more saturated hue of reddish pink stucco foundation with the softer and paler ocher-colored wood siding above.  Lush vegetation sporting luxuriant red and pink flowers trailing over a natural wood fence add to its heavier, grounding effect

These interior gymnasium walls are grounded by the deep blue protective covering at their base. Given the wild shapes and over-sized   lines, shapes and patterns used in the room’s design, the consistency and “reliability” of the blue may also serve to keep young athletes players focused and grounded as they play.

Here is the outside of the same building, swathed in corrugated stripes.   Notice that the stripe closest to the ground is darker blue, and the one at the top, lighter.

This fun and fascinating building combines all manner of materials, from wood siding, to brick, to concrete,

and even verdigris decorative details above the door. The mass of flowering vegetation in front,  while nearly obscuring parts of the facade,  add to the fancy of the place, while connecting it to the earth, the  ground.  In moody weather, the mix of weathered materials and enveloping foliage may lend an air of mystery and perhaps even magic to the place.

Here, an artist’s self-styled, whimsical touch creates grounding through the application of  bright color, repeated shapes, and sense of a garden planted  at the base of the house. The playful, optimistic feeling  is further enhanced by the use of complementary colors  yellow and purple.

The largest sphere in this extraordinary mural seems to be sitting right on the sidewalk!  It could be coming right out at us, the viewer, but at least the building doesn’t look like it is about to leave the ground!  The tiled trompe l’oeil technique is used to great visual and grounding, effect here.

When we walk past this extraordinary building in LA’s Venice Canal District, our eye is drawn past the foliage, across the manicured back yard, and over the amazing sunken pool under the blue-framed overhang, through the space between the orange posts, to the electric apple green accent wall behind them. Brighter, more vibrant, and more saturated than the natural greens , and applied blue and orange surrounding it, this wall looks  strong enough to carry this unusual structure’s  visual weight.

This wild building on Wilshire in Santa Monica is one of my favorites.  An eclectic mix of materials, hues and shapes, it seems break all the “rules”, yet somehow, it works!  This could be due to a counteracting balancing effect of the mix of elements. The undulating curve of the upper wood facade/detail is counterbalanced by the strong concrete support/column next to it, even though the wood is a strong color, and an even stronger visual element. Our eye is drawn upward from the glass, and warm blue and green (reflecting sea, sky and grass?) colors behind it to that grand sweep of wood,

which is also supported by the metal detail/support that follows its shape and movement below.  The whole building feels like a

huge kinetic wave, appropriate architecture for a beach town on the edge of the Pacific. The foliage, and its concrete base below also add grounding.  Amazing!  Fidelity, you got it going on, architecturally!

The “Bagel Nosh”  in Santa Monica, hosts a marvelous display of mouth-watering treats. Where does our eye go right to here?  No, there isn’t a spotlight on the center of the case.  That’s just the natural color of these bright golden-yellow jalapeno-flavored bagels. The strong, rich, saturated color just grabs our attention, and holds it there…it’s up to you to decide whether the taste of these treats warrants their attention-grabbing status.

  We walk upon the ground,  perhaps that is why our  shoes are often brown and black…colors of the earth.  We usually want to feel grounded when we tread upon the earth, a firm foundation, a solid base.  But, maybe not all the time.  Perhaps sometimes we want to whirl, twirl, leap, float, and feel  “ten feet off the ground”.  Don’t we long to take risks, to take  flight, as much as we long to be safe, secure, and grounded?  When you want to feel fun, fantastical, floating, and fabulous, try on a glittery, glowing, or gossamer pair of footwear, and see if it helps your grounded spirit to soar!

What buildings, architecture, food or footwear have YOU experienced lately that feel grounded or the opposite?

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

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all trying to ground ourselves  yet take flight within this thing called Life, together.

Stay grounded, but don’t be afraid to fly!

Re-Creational Color

Re-Creational Color

Once upon a time there was a charming house in the Glen Park District of San Francisco, that looked like this:

Now, everyone’s taste is different, and some may love to live in a house with such a color scheme, but the lovely family that lives here  did not.  Upon deciding that they wanted to change their exterior house color scheme, the owners, a married couple with a young daughter, took action.

They hired not only a house painter, but a color consultant (associated with their painter),  who came up with this color combination:

This combination of colors, as I understand it, was closer to what the owners wanted (apparently they wanted to ‘get the red out”!), but still fell short of what they felt comfortable with, to say nothing of, loved.  In short, they were discomfited.  It just wasn’t right.

The neighborhood is eclectic, and creativity abounds. However, the owners wanted a more unified look to the structure, and when all was said and done, didn’t like having different colors on the house body (above) , and the foundation (below).  They decided they wanted to change out these  colors (which covered the main area of the house), and have the same color on both the body and foundation. There was already a lot going on with the trim and accent colors, which they decided to keep.

I had the good fortune of meeting  the owners while providing in-store color consulting for Benjamin Moore Creative Paint, located on Geary Boulevard, in San Francisco.  We discussed their dilemma, and they engaged me as color consultant (number two), so that we could really, as Brad Pitt might say, make it right. We knew that we were going to select just one color for both the foundation, and upper house body, and that the chosen hue probably needed to be deeper, richer and warmer then what the previous consultant had specified.

We sampled a number of options, but they all went too violet on the house surface.  San Francisco has a very particular kind of light, and the Glen Park neighborhood can get foggy. Although the violet tones worked with the burgundy trim, it was too much, and not what the Clients wanted.  Let’s face it, we had to get it right this time!

The second go-around, we sampled Benjamin Moore 1476, “Squirrel Tail”, “Taos Taupe”, 2111-40, and “Iron Gate” 1545.  The Clients knew, hands down, it had to be Squirrel Tail.  The hue contained the right amount of warmth, a bit of richness, and it worked with, rather than competed with, the “Bottle of Bordeaux” 1357  trim, and “Tarrytown Green” HC-134 accent.

We gave a nod to the house foundation by painting it in an intensified (150%)  version of the “Squirrel Tail”, to add a sense of weight and stability to the structure, without further complicating the color design.   Both foundation and upper house body were done in an eggshell sheen to add a bit of resilience, and wash-ability, but almost no shine.  The garage door, also painted in the 150% formula, was done in a satin sheen to set it off slightly, and deflect a certain amount of contact and dirt!

The result is a unified appearance, which lent the house solidity, warmth and that touch of richness and depth the Clients were seeking. By unifying the body and foundation colors, the multitude of trim and details became less prominent, also adding to the desired unity.

Finally, we “got the white out”!

It was a pleasure to work with these wonderful Clients, and see their home transform through the healing use of color.  My hope for them is that they live long and prosper, in their “new” home.

Three times a charm!

What color dilemmas have YOU had lately, and how have you solved them?

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

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

Happy Color!

Fog Magic

Fog Magic

One recent overcast Saturday morning, I set out in full regalia, walking to my exercise class, which was just down the road.

It was foggy, not an unusual state of weather in San Francisco. However, instead of dull and dismal, the softly filtered light and shrouded landscape felt mysterious and  magical.  I remembered a book from my childhood entitled “Fog Magic”, in which a young girl encountered a magical world only visible in the fog.  How did the fog change the look of things?

Intrigued, and going on instinct, I walked right past the church where my Jazzercise class was now surely in full swing.  The air itself was soft, damp, and seemed full of possibility.  I was on an adventure…and  heading West, towards the water.

The pastel colors of the buildings were muted further by the fog, softened, yet distinct.  I was struck by the difference in hue, yet similarity in value of a row of house colors which seemed to nest like colored Easter eggs, side by side. They reminded me of the “rear view” house colors I was moved to write about in a previous post.

I have always been intrigued by this very private abode, and have perused it many times while walking west towards the ocean.  It emits a strong Japanese sensibility, its plain frontal facade, and very specific landscaping distracting attention from how far back it stretches.

The blend of cultures, ethnicities , belief systems and their myriad expressions in the Bay Area pervade its neighborhoods. Weather-dusted gems such as the unexpected Buddha can appear anywhere, such as the end of a condominium walkway  across from Ocean Beach

The pop of a red door seems even more intense in the fog. White body, blue trim, and gray-blue accent give new meaning to the term “white picket fence”, and all that term implies.  This neat little dwelling is bright in the sunlight, and a grayed down version of flag colors in the fog.

Slightly north stands the stately enclave of “Sea Cliff”, home to movie stars, moguls, and probably a lot of moms, too.  Here, the trail of vines spreading across a picturesque stone wall creates the inspiration for a mural composition.  The rich fuchsia color jumps out against the green and gray in the overcast light.

Fog magic is mysterious and powerful. Days don’t have to be bright to be illuminated, or objects well-lit to be radiant. Through the softly veiled, diffused light of the foggy overcast we so often live within here, we can see the glow of treasures we might otherwise overlook, blinking in the sunlight.

Has a walking adventure changed the way YOU see things recently??  

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

We love to hear from you.

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


Color Story

Color Story

Once upon a time, in December of 2009, I was asked to assist in color selection for the exterior of a cool sort of industrial-looking  building on Corbett Street in San Francisco. Being a condominium building with three units, it had three sets of  inhabitants, which made up its HOA, (Home Owners Association). One of these was taking charge of the painting project, and thus, of course, the colors.  I was in luck…someone, I still don’t know who, referred my services, and I am so glad they did.  Little did any of us know that our task would not be completed until June of 2011.

My clients, technically the HOA, but, in my mind, George and Garret, who were handling the process,  live part-time in Texas.  We initially discussed the importance of the materials (those that would not be painted), primarily the hand-made wooden, slatted front gate, and the beautiful multi-colored tiles of the steps and planter. These would provide the direction for the house body (main), the garage door and trim, and the window sash and balcony rail (accent) color choices.

Because the building has an industrial, almost loft-like feel, there is an interesting tension between the architecture and surrounding  foliage.  We knew that the color scheme was to be cool, stream-lined and elegant, with enough contrast to the proliferation of nature in which it would dwell, yet it also needed to complement, and draw out the browns and greens of the nearby plants, trees and bushes. I felt that the colors should provide a nod to the structure’s industrial “downtown” sensibility.

The silvery metal house numbers also support the loft aesthetic, and would become part of the color story, providing a bit of reflective gleam.

We opted for Benjamin Moore “Iron Gate”, #1545, for the house body, and Sherwin Williams “Rustic Red” # 7593 for the window sashes, and balcony railings. Keeping the balcony railings, on the left side of the building, the same accent color as the sashes provides balance, as there is a lot more red sash action going on to the right, and we needed enough red on the left to counterbalance.

George and Garret turned me on to Sherwin Williams “Iron Gate” #2926, which  they had used on their Houston, Texas home, and was already on the garage of the building.  I loved the color, and wanted to use it.  Incredibly, it worked beautifully with Benjamin Moore’s version, the “other” Iron Gate, chosen for the house body.  Fascinating to see the different takes on what hues the term “Iron Gate” conjure up!

Over the course of  a year and a half, chatting on the phone and by email in-between meetings with George and Garret when they were in town, and their painter Tony, (local), we confirmed the scheme. Tony put up samples,  and George and Garret discussed them with the other owners and got the consensus. We were finally ready for the building to be primed! Yes, we were moving ahead! We were keeping the garage door color, and adding it to the trim above, and shifting the red on the sashes and railings to something a bit more toned-down,  in better keeping with the strong wood hue of the gate. We were transforming the body color from a paler blueish green, to the richly nuanced  and deeper grayish green hue of Iron Gate, Ben Moore style. It was happening!

And…voila!  Our attention to detail, and focus on bringing together subtle, and not so subtle shifts of color finally yielded its fruit…achieving a stream-lined, elegant, “industrial” harmony, which plays nice with its natural and architectural surroundings, and integrates seamlessly into the neighborhood.  I know George and Garret will feel great every time they enter their San Francisco home.  I hope all others who are sheltered here do as well.

What color sagas have YOU participated in lately?

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

We love to hear from you.

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

Cheers!

Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part Two

Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part Two

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

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

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

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

What do colors sound like?

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

What do colors feel like?

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

What do colors smell like?

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

What do colors Taste like?

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

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

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

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

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


Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part One

Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part One

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

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

Let’s look at some examples.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have YOU had an experience with Synesthesia lately?

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



Featured Work- Soulful Journey

Featured Work: Soulful Journey

Soulful Pilates Studio recently opened its red doors  in the Haight-Ashbury / Cole Valley neighborhoods of San Francisco.  It  is  owned and operated by Veronique and Walter Thoma.  I had the privilege,  referred by beloved vendor,  Creative Paint,  to take a soulful journey with Veronique and Walter and help them select paint colors for the interior of the Studio.

The Challenge:

To create a serene, yet energizing atmosphere of warmth, support, and intimacy in a somewhat cavernous space with high ceilings, punctuated by a pole.   To create a space which is soothing and cheerful, yet energetic and alive.

Veronique knew she wanted Soulful’s color journey to start with yellow.  But how to find a yellow that would work over such a large surface area, yet not be overpowering, jaundiced, blinding, distracting, too bright, too drab, too gold, or too muddy?  We sampled a number of hues, but none were right. When the Thomas showed me a tiny color swatch they had found at a small boutique paint company,  I was able translate that vision into the 2154 strip of colors found in the Benjamin Moore Color Preview fan deck.  By using a system of colors that were inter-related, we were able to create interest, variety, and subtle accents in the large space, without the complications of choosing other hues, which could busy the space, creating distraction for the students.  A strong, vital red on the doors (points of entry and passage) and the bench (place of rest and changing shoes) animated the space, providing contrast and energy.

Soulful Door

The exterior of the front door was already painted in an earthy red, and we took that idea to the interior.  The door now functions as an accent which can energize a foggy day,  of which there are many in our fair City!

Not Ketchup and Mustard

“Ketchup and Mustard”?   No…. Benjamin Moore  Spanish Red” 1301, and “Straw”  2154-50.

Front Accent Wall Contrast

Three tones of a soft ochre-yellow warm the tall space without cluttering it.  The warmth  is delivered by Benjamin Moore  “Straw” 2154-50 on the walls, (and pole), and “Filtered Sunlight” 2154-60 on the trim. What a dream job it would be to concoct the names for these colors!

Back Accent Wall Moves it Forward

The accent wall in the back of the Studio is Benjamin Moore “York Harbor Yellow” 2154-40,  providing just that slight bump up in color saturation, which adds subtle interest but not clutter to the space, as they are in the same hue family.

Royal Compliments of Gold and Purple

The golden tones of “Straw”, “Filtered Sunlight”, and “York Harbor Yellow” are offset by the complimentary purple mat, a royal combination…

Energetic Entry

The red door, clothed in Benjamin Moore “Spanish Red” 1301,  pops, creating an energetic entry into the bathroom, which is

Soulful Bath

painted in  Benjamin Moore,”Semolina” 2155-40, on the walls, and “Cottontail”  2155-70 on the trim.  Again,  the use of two related hues, less earthy and more orange then those of the main studio space, varying in degrees of saturation and intensity and thus, value.

Colors Support the Function of the Space

Using a unified set of hues unified the unwieldy space, and made it welcoming and accessible to both the Clients, and their Clients: the students and practitioners of Pilates that would come to this studio to study, learn, and grow, taking their own soulful journeys here.  Red, with its associations with blood, fire, love, and life force is the perfect foil and energizer for the harmonious “yellow””.

Says Walter Thoma:
“The colors look better up than we imagined….the darker…color on the two walls looks really good”

Sometimes, what color can do for a space can come as a (happy) surprise!  The results may be…Soulful!