The Purpose of Color
The purpose of color is to communicate. Color tells us that brightly colored frog is super poisonous, the specific order of colored rings on a snake identifies it as poisonous or not AND which team on the field we want to cheer for. It also lets us in on THE color for spring fashion.
Color helps segment, distinguish, identify, categorize, entertain and keep us safe. Remember! Green means go. Color is apparent from the moment you open your eyes until they close for sleep. Even then… Color creeps right into dreams!
Color affects our lives mentally, spiritually, and physically. It’s used to convey meaning, for symbolism, enhance ambiance and to bring order to confusion by allowing things to be grouped together for better understanding.
There’s no way one post could cover the entire scope of color! So let’s make a few broad strokes with the paint brush and see what images we can come up!
The Basics of Color
First, a few basics. The basics of color lie within the three primary colors . Red, Blue and Yellow. Surprisingly, black and white are not considered colors.
All color is created from the three primary colors. These “primary” colors are primary because no two colors can be mixed to create them but all other colors are created from them.
To get all “sciency” on ya.. Color is the visible spectrum of light waves. So color is really a magic act.
… It’s comprised of light waves called “electromagnetic energy”. Our eyes are only capable of seeing a specific range of these waves, between 380 and 750 nanometers. A “Nanometer” is the unit of measurement used to measure light waves. Even though that SOUNDS like the measurement used to gauge Nana’s level of spoilage for the grandkids.
Here’s where the “magic” comes in because… drum roll please!!! We THINK when we look at that yummy brown Mocha covered in whip that the MOCHA is the color brown. NOPE! The Mocha is brown because that’s the only color/light wave it is NOT absorbing! The color we see is the one, whatever object we are looking at, that is NOT being absorbed!
Okay! Enough of the geeky stuff!!
Color and Emotions
For centuries people have known color can symbolize emotion. Like CENTURIES! Even the way we speak about certain emotions proves we understand the connection. Ever been “green” with envy? I bet at least once in your life you’ve had the “blues”. Maybe you were so angry you were seeing “red”.
This video relays perfectly the how color is used to convey a powerful message. AND It’s one of my all time favorite videos. I may or may not have shed a tear … er.. flat out ugly cried the first time, second… umm.. anyway..
We talk about our emotions using color but at the same time color is used to promote emotion and behavior. There’s a reason a can of Coke is red. Target and Chic Filet signs are red. Your doctors office is blue? Yep. There’s a reason.
Marketers have learned this amazing little trick with color. We respond to color in a very predictable way. These colors are used to motivate the buying public, enhance learning in educational settings, stimulate appetite and create a sense of calm in possible tense situations.
The exciting thing about this is we too, can use the science of color to enhance our lives and homes! Keep reading!!! This is getting good!
Color at Home
The fun part!! Pinterest!! The rabbit hole of all rabbit holes!!! FYI… you can fall down my rabbit hole here! 😉
It’s almost spring as I write this and what are the majority of us gals doin? Diving into pinterest like it’s a massive swimming pool on a hot summer day!
What’s the best table decor for Easter? How do we add hints of spring to the farmhouse style that is so adored? What kind of crafts should we do with the littles to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. What color should the chair covers be for the Mother’s day brunch at church? And on and on and on.
Why? Because we use color to decorate, celebrate, communicate… even to set the mood of an event. The next time you indulge in Pinterest pay attention to what “grabs your attention”. I’ll give you a clue. ~and I’ll try not to geek out too much.
Colors on Pinterest Grab Our Attention
After you hit search on your topic… One of the first things you’ll notice will be… Wait for it… color. You knew that was coming right? The next thing will probably be line and shape. Not even kidding here. And, yep, these are art principles. Pinterest is a visual platform which, obviously, means color plays a huge part in the pins.
No matter what style you gravitate to, its’ color is a main definer of that style.
Farmhouse your first love? Let’s talk white, light and neutral color schemes that rely on line and texture to add depth and movement. Crissy from J&C Farm Finds totally nails it!
Boho big in your life? Color overload on steroids! Color, texture, line and juxtaposition are the backbone of boho design. This awesome space belongs to Tara who just happens to live in Finland AND is an author!
Maybe a Traditional Refined style makes your calm heart sing. A neutral color palette with rich undertones and deep accents in artwork and furniture are the signature of this classic style.
Color is used in the home to celebrate family heritage, style and design and to promote feelings of intimacy and comfort. Without color a home can feel more like an institution than a safe haven.
Before we jump to the next little bit on the purpose of color, think of the style that most harmonizes with you. Now, really look at the colors present in that style. Guess what? Those colors resonate with you for a reason. Remember, marketers use color to speak to us. So… what is your decorating style saying TO you and ABOUT you? 😉
Color and Fashion
Fashion and color! How better to express yourself than through what you’re wearing!
Prada? Gucci? Calvin Klein? Coco Chanel? Every single designer plays with color! In fact! Color is so important to designers, Michael Kors added two new “seasons” to his lineup! WHY? Because fashion is predetermined by the seasons. Literally… Remember… the “Fall Season” and pumpkin spice everything? And don’t forget “Bikini Season”! Kors decided to bring “Resort Season” and “Prefall Season” into his runway lineup. Can you guess why? You got it. More seasons, more time to experiment with color and shelf life of the design.
Color is THAT important to fashion. Self expression is no longer just for artists, wayward college students trying to “find themselves” or millennials embracing life through endless selfies. Culture is now, more than ever before, focused on the unique, interesting, and fresh personal statements that can be made through fashion.
Fashion style is quite similar to decor. Certain colors exude specific personal stories created by the cut and color of the garment. Grunge, Boho, Artsy, Preppy, Eclectic and a myriad of other design styles use color to signify the style.
Jodie has the Artsy look down to a science!!
I like to tease Monica about having a Preppy style with a bit of spice thrown in!! Must be because she lives in my home state Texas!
Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. ~Coco Chanel
Does your home decor style/color match your fashion style/color? Does it match exactly or just give a nod? You might be wearing one statement and living in another. Which is perfectly fine!! Just pay attention to which one is truly
You may be more influenced by others opinions in one or the other. The goal would be expression that is congruent and harmonizing with your personal style, home decor and family environment. 😉
Color and Food
I LOVE getting seed catalogs in the mail!! Okay.. granted. I have ZERO space to plant anything.. Not even kidding here. BUT the catalogs!! I know your thinking all the fruits and vegetables and flowers. And I just bet by now… you already KNOW what I’m thinking!! COLOR!!!!
Have you ever seen a yellow tomato? Did it seem kinda weird? How about a purple carrot? Strange right? We have these preconceived ideas of what food SHOULD look like. These ideas are based on what is “normal”, what we are accustomed to seeing and eating.
There is NOTHING wrong with this. New colors for food make life interesting.
If a lemon is yellow and a lime is green… why is Sprite…clear? I think we can all agree yellow and green do NOT make clear. Just wondering…
Color makes food so much more enticing. A healthy eating plan will include a rainbow of colors. The enticing part is totally visual, the healthy part is the nutrients contained in the colorful food choices!
Fruits and vegetables that are red contain the pigment Lycopene. Lycopene is a massive antioxidant that is being researched for preventing cancer and heart attacks as well as a tons of other diseases.
Vegetables and fruits that are green/yellow are rich in Lutein helps promote eye health and reduce the risk of macular degeneration in the mature population.
Ok one more… Clearly this will be an entire post all on its own soon!
Beta Carotene or Carotenoids is found in orange/yellow fruits and vegis. This is basically Vitamin A and Retinol which as you know we need for a healthy immune system along with healthy skin.
Really. I didn’t even touch on some of the other powerful ways we are influenced by color in food. You can bet there will be another HUGE post or two, or three. I’m a little obsessed… okay?! LOL My best advise is… Eat the Rainbow EVERYDAY!
Color in Life
Color and Mindfulness
BIG BUZZ WORD y’all! Mindfulness. This word is EVERYWHERE! It’s not magic. It’s not really a new concept. Just like meditation has been around for eons. So what’s the dealio?
Mindfulness is basically “be where your feet are”. Pay attention to the right now. The scent, the sound, the emotion, the feel of your skin, your breathing. It’s not “oh, let me close my eyes and chant something for twenty minutes”. Which is totally fine!
The everyday example I have of mindfulness is actually from my dad. He would have thought I was NUTS if I had known this when he was alive. Everyday when my dad came home from work in the summer he would have a glass of ice water. He was a carpenter/contractor so his days were spent in the Texas heat building and remodeling houses. He was in the heat all day basically. After his ice water he picked up a hoe and spent the next FOUR HOURS in his garden.
Okay let me just say, his was not the cute backyard veggie garden. It was a massive 4 acres filled to the fences with watermelons, cantaloupe, okra, sweet potato… Tons of plants. One year? 300 tomato plants. And this has what to do with mindfulness? When my dad was in that garden every evening, in the heat again, whistling. WHISTLING! When was the last time you zenned out so much you whistled??
This was mindfulness. Dad was in the moment. Outside. Performing a rhythmic movement. Noticing the whippoorwills, the scent of the freshly turned dirt, the slight breeze as the sun set, the colors of the plants and trees and sky. Do I know what was going through his mind? Nope. But I do know he was calmer and more at ease after his time in his garden.
Dad had been doing a mindfulness practice before “mindfulness” was even a thing…
- repetitive movement
- having a routine
- paying attention to what was going on in the moment
- having a place daily to “practice”
Where does color fit in to this? An easy routine to get into is just being observant of the colors around you. Really absorbing your environment of color. Choosing an art practice for a mindfulness routine can offer even more benefits. Interacting with the vibrations of the color your working with plus the repetitive movement of brush/pencil enhance the mental benefits. Especially if you choose colors that are calming when you begin your practice.
Basically there is no way of getting around color.
The other questions I have are-
- Does color contribute, literally, to our well being?
- Can we truly measure the depth of impact color has in our lives?
- How long does it take for color to penetrate our lives deeply enough to have a profound effect.
Actually, I have more questions than that. Maybe someday in the future I will find the answers to these questions and the tons more I have.
Your turn!! What questions do YOU have? I would love to add your questions to my ever growing list!
Leave me a comment here or jump into the socials and let’s chat.