“Why do two colours, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No. Just as one can never learn how to paint.”–Pablo Picasso
This month, the local Goodwill Store underwent an upgrade and redecorating. Prior to the construction crew’s arrival, the manager excitedly informed me about the new paint color theme of the store’s walls. The predominant color would be grey with a wide, lime-green accent stripe applied horizontally. Along with these colors, the navy blue of the Goodwill logo would also be featured.
I was skeptical about the choice but didn’t express my doubts to her. Who am I to spoil my friend’s excitement about her store’s upgrade? Also, the color theme and infrastructure updates originated with the corporation’s higher-ups, so she had no say-so about them.
This month, the painters applied the paint. I had to admit that the color scheme is pleasing to the eye. Gray, being neutral, coordinates with practically every color. The lime-green or chartreuse adds just enough pizazz to the store’s environment.
I wonder who selected the Goodwill Industry’s store color theme. Was it by committee? Were there a lot of quarrels about using lime-green and grey? How did they determine the particular tones and shades of the colors? Perhaps an interior design computer app came up with color mix options and suggested some of the best choices. These types of decisions are corporate secrets, so I’ll probably never know the hows and whys of Goodwill grey and lime-green.
You probably noticed that this post’s title is spelled with “colours” and not “colors”. In my mind, colours is just another shade of colors, or sometimes it’s the other way around. It seems odd that people in the United States spell it “colors” while most of the rest of the English speaking world spells it with the “u”.
Apparently, it was to Noah Webster’s fault or credit that U.S. English spells some words differently than British English. He authored books about grammar, reading, and spelling. For our purposes, Webster’s three books about spelling are most germane: The First Part of the Grammatical Institute of the English Language, The American Spelling Book, and The Elementary Spelling Book. They were educators’ standard texts used in schools across the country. There were several revisions and reprints of the books as Mr. Webster subtly refined words by phonetics theory.
Colors represent our emotional perception of temperature. Reds and yellows seem warm and blue seems cool. The warm and hot colors cause us to feel more excited or even anxious. The cool and cold colors usually cause the opposite reactions.
Ironically, a flame that is reddish or yellowish is not as hot as a blue flame. This is true for stars, too. The red toned stars are “cooler” than 3,000-degrees Celsius, whereas the blue-hued stars are hotter than 30,000-degrees Celsius. Yellowish stars have temperatures between 3,000 and 30,000 degrees.
Even our definitions of musical sounds are often described in colorful ways. We might associate bright colors with upbeat, cheerful music. Dark colors are more in line with bass notes and serious themes. Of course we have the category of music named after the color blue. Some folks have the ability to mentally see musical tone and color.
It’s interesting that you probably envision the primary colors differently than I envision them. Even as we may agree on a “pure” yellow as depicted on a printed chart, our minds’ eyes may mentally manifest them differently. Your pure yellow and my pure yellow are subjective perceptions. They may vary a little or a lot. This lack of precision is unsettling to some folks.
Color (colour) is a basic ingredient of vision. It’s a fascinating topic to contemplate.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes activist, artist, designer of the gay rights flag, Gilbert Baker. “The rainbow is a part of nature, and you have to be in the right place to see it. It’s beautiful, all of the colors, even the colors you can’t see. That really fit us as a people because we are all of the colors. Our sexuality is all of the colors. We are all the genders, races, and ages.”