The color is there, Theo. Please don’t give up looking.
from The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams
written by Mindy Thompson
A couple of years ago, my middle grandson and I had a conversation about color. He noted that primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) when combined, made secondary colors (orange, green and purple).
So I naturally asked the next question. What do the secondary colors make when they are combined? Of course he answered “tertiary.” But what are those? According to celebratingcolor.com, tertiary colors are the mixture of two secondary colors. Unless you are considering light waves, orange + green, orange + purple, and green + purple all equal a shade of brown.
We can also combine adjacent colors. Yellow and orange mix to get amber or marigold. Red and orange produce vermilion or cinnabar. Magenta is formed from red and purple. Blue and purple give us violet. Blue and green give us teal or aqua or cyan, and green plus yellow equals chartreuse.
And what about mixing those? The English word for the fourth degree, the word that comes after tertiary, is quaternary. Mixing marigold with violet, aqua with chartreuse, or vermilion with teal all also lead to the several shades of brown. Wikipedia lists 32 quaternary colors, although most on their list are tertiaries, not combinations of them.
So what’s the point? Talking of brown on another gray Ohio day seems pointless until I begin to consider the various shades of sparrows, finches, and (a hope for returning) house wrens at my feeder. Even the seemingly perpetual gray sky is pointed out by the brown bones of my oaks, maples, and redbud.
I’ve known people who loved brown and people who hated it. Several lists I perused put blue (in its many shades) at the top of the favorite list. Orange hits the bottom.
Setting aside shades and tints, tones and hues, colors can influence our moods and even our physical beings. A whole branch of brain science is devoted to color psychology, how we react to and are influenced by the colors in our world. A big part of it is cultural. In the United States, we have chosen black for a mourning color. Other cultures have chosen white. Our brides like to dress in white. Other cultures prefer red.
According to colorpsychology.org “red enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure while green slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect.”
Color therapy goes a step further. It promotes the idea that colors can influence not only our moods but our health. While little research has been done to substantiate these ideas and theories, according to verywellmind.com, experts have found that color can influence how we feel and behave. Red energizes. Brown is associated with stability. Since turquoise balances blue, green, and yellow, it gives a feeling of security. Of course, all these effects depend on personal, cultural, and situational circumstances. If you Google “color psychology test” you’ll find many free discussions of what your favorite color says about you and how to use different colors to their best advantage. Take one (or many) of these for fun.
Although yellow has been my favorite color for a long time, I’m drawn to colors I find in nature. The wide varieties of green include chlorophyll-induced leaves on trees, bushes, and flowers. And algae, like pond scum, mosses, and some mold. We learn about blue through experiencing the expansive, blue sky and the vast, living ocean. According to color therapy, bringing together the balance of green with the tranquility of blue creates a strong healing force used to support both physical and emotional healing and well-being.
Cyan might be the perfect color. It is blue-green without even a hint of red. It might be my new favorite.
Picture book art uses the four-color printing process known as CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). By combining various amounts of each ink, printers produce their wide color range. Artists and illustrators use their color sense and their color palettes to add meaning to an author’s text.
Today might be a red-letter day. I could give myself the green light on a new story idea. A friend might call me out of the blue. Any moment could open to a golden opportunity.
-—stay curious! (and surround yourself with color)