Thursday, August 20, 2009

Colour or COLOR?

It is a well known fact that most men are a little colour blind.

I know I am because everyone hates my choices when it comes to green-I tend to go for acidy yellow greens I guess but they don't look that way to me.

I love mossy, soft greens and when I moved in 2007 after 22 years in my former home I put the same mossy green carpet and faux slate flooring in my new place-COLOUR can say home better than anything else.

BTW I spell Colour with a U as a wink to all my friends and fans in Canada-sometimes I forget when I'm in a hurry but at least now you know the why of that one.

I have never understood why colour and dealing with colour is so hard for some people?

The sky is blue, grass is some variant of green and the night sky is...GREEN...actually a deep blueish green.

When you do moonlight on the stage you GEL (or filter) the light with a colour called moonlight blue-its very green not that familiar blue light colour that everyone is comfortable with in the school play.

Think about it-the sun shines on the moon and the light is reflected back on the earth-space is absolutely BLACK but the atmosphere changes the colour of the light.

Look at a picture of the moon-what colour is it? Grayish with a bit of a greenish tint...remember the green cheese myth?

I remember long ago I worked in budget men's wear at May Company and a lady was furious at me because she wanted a pair of green pants for her husband, I said we didn't have any green pants...I sold her black pants which as any man will tell you is all you ever need other than jeans to survive (well maybe not so much these days).

Anyway said lady came back screaming at me and waving a pair of grey pants at me and accusing me of treating her badly or selling her something on sale or whatever-she was not happy.

I refunded her money and sold her the grey pants-even today I refuse to believe they were green.

Did you ever wonder-now stay with me here-did you ever wonder if the colour you see when you look at a stop sign is the color someone else sees when they look at grass?

I can't imagine a world full of grey and shades of grey but I guess if you don't know any better it's not a big deal.

I've done the colour blindness test and I always see the right number so I'm not so worried...but is does trouble me sometimes that anyone has an issue putting two complimentary colours together who can actually see colours.

In my school days-back in those simpler times somewhere between the origins of dirt and white thread-when we weren't running from dinosaurs we actually had art classes.

I learned BEFORE I went to school that red and blue made purple and that there were primary and secondary colours-I had the big box of crayons with the sharpener built in the back-my Mother was an artist and a designer; she had her priorities.

I also learned that if you mix a primary (red, blue or yellow) with a secondary (orange, green or purple) that is the complimentary of the primary you will get brown.

Hence if you mix red with green you get...wait for it...that's right, BROWN. Same for blue with orange and yellow with purple...brown, mix them and you get brown.

When you take a colour and add black you get a tone and when you add white you get a tint (that would mean that any grey is a tint AND a tone).

Getting hung up on tertiary colours and complex mixes is taking it all too far-I can wax on for hours until your eyes roll back in your head and you pass out from the drone of my voice about chaining colours, cool versus warm, layering and washing with various warm or cool tones...are you bored yet?

I actually did a painting once that was blue and orange. It wasn't a bad painting it was just ugly.

But getting back to green---someone once told me that green was always a good choice because grass goes with everything---I know, it hit me the same way---what the HELL are you talking about?

If you keep your palette simple and you mix from that simple palette AND if you know those few basics about primaries, secondaries and how they mix you're gonna be OK.

It seems we get into trouble when we start buying colours with names like bubblegum or cotton candy and here's why---when I mentioned those two names I predict that the colour that came to your mind was PINK - am I correct?

I, personally have had bubblegum AND cotton candy that was lavender, blue, green and several other colours-now we are in the world where grass is the colour of a stop sign.

The point to this meandering diatribe is this: call the color what it is yellow green, greenish yellow, blue green or even a greenish blue that is close to the gemstone Turquoise.

A reddish orange tint would be PEACH...when was the last time that you saw an actual PEACH that was PEACH?

When you think of colours not as colours or cutesy names but as components, mixtures, you will never again have a problem with colours and mixing or designing a piece because your colour story will be in sync with the world.

That red a bit garish or you need an antiquing wash for it add a little green and you get a reddish brown, not quite right? TONE it down with a touch of black.

That red a bit too bright for that softer look you're after? Tint it with a touch of white, dull it with a touch of white and green, grey it with a touch of white, green and black.

See how simple it is to start think of your colours as actual colours and not a random name like Newport Blue?

I swear to you those pants were GREY.

Next time I'll tell you WHY paints and other colour mediums have cutesy names-it's fascinating.

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