“I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.”
We are entranced by color. It is so understood, intrinsically that we don’t think about it.
It warns us; makes data understandable, it can change our mood and behaviour. It can mark special occasions, both happy and sad. It can write volumes without picking up a pen.
We even use it to identify ourselves.
Let’s explore how we can understand and use this enigmatic, unique influence. It is found everywhere. In all arts. We use it to describe language, the weather and our deepest emotions. It can communicate without words.
Let’s take a look with our buddy, Roy G. Biv:
Passion, Love, Anger
Each color is important but, boy, red hits it out of the ballpark. It has the lowest frequency of all basic colors (we can’t see infrared). Oddly, this low amplitude is meant for emergencies and warnings. Things can be “red hot” or one might pick up the “red telephone” if one were about to be nuked. Whole countries can be “red.” Even planets. It portrays anger, lust and mid-age crises. It is equally at home on lips and MAGA hats. It’s a very confident color.
Energy, Happiness, Vitality
Orange the fruit came first. The word came into English either from Old French ‘pomme d’orenge’, or from the Spanish ‘naranja’ (with the subsequent transfer of the ‘n’ over to the indefinite article, as per ‘apron’ and ‘adder’, originally ‘napron’ and ‘nadder’).
I have a soft spot for orange. It can’t rhyme. It’s the only color to be named after an actual thing. It’s an oddball and a freak and I love it for that. It makes rare appearances (outside of Florida) and yet it engages with a come-hither attraction. Important mentions to A Clockwork Orange and the Netherlands.
Happiness, Hope, Deceit
What to say about this color? Seemingly, it’s up to hanging with any other color for cheap thrills. It also has disturbing qualities. It is primary but the other two are not into it. It’s like the kid you grew up with who was a bit “off.” Vibrant? Yes. Jaundiced? Definitely. We emit yellow things when we are sick. Yellow traffic lights yelp “WHOA THERE! Slow down ’cause I aint responsible – warned you.” It’s a reckless, cavalier color. Whatevs.
New Beginnings, Abundance, Nature
I have a lot of green in my life.
Political. Envious. Sick. And yet, full of life and vigor. Plants and other living things are green. We would die without this color. It is at the exact wavelength that sits in the middle of the spectrum. Neither bothersome nor agitating nor too complex. An average color. I don’t know how to feel about this color.
Jealousy, from the Series, The Green Room by Edvard Munch
Jealousy is one of the paintings from the series, The Green Room by Edvard Munch. This series included around eight paintings that were painted in the latter part of 1906 and 1907.
Not so easy, is it?
Calm, Responsible, Sadness
Less than 1 in 10 plants have blue flowers and far fewer animals are blue. So why is that? Part of the reason is that there isn’t really a true blue colour or pigment in nature and both plants and animals have to perform tricks of the light to appear blue.
I’m biased. Blue is my favorite, I admit it. It is pacific, calm; welcoming like an old friend. It exudes tranquility and quiet. And yet, it is firmly bound to its reputation for denoting sad, depressed things. It can be dawn or midnight. It’s versatile like that. You can sing it, watch it, be it, feel it, sense it and taste it. This is a “can do, boss!” color and is generally amiable with other colors but knows it doesn’t mix well sometimes. It is honest though… true blue.
Wisdom and Intuition
As the frequency goes up, purple is there. When it wears a fedora and a mustache, it’s also known as indigo. I know, it gets confusing. Purple has a long history of being an uptight snob. It does not even talk to the other colors. Alone, it revels in its distinction. It was worn by royalty because making this color as a dye took enormous effort. So much so that rulers forbade the public from wearing it with the penalty being death. It vibrates at a high frequency. It is difficult to perceive this color, even when it reflects light.
Faith, Subconscious, Inspiration
A very troublesome color. It is at the highest frequency that we can see. It vibrates so quickly that it borders on violence. Ultraviolet can do genetic harm, burn your skin and destroy pathogens. This color is not playing. It also is very rarely found in nature. It just rings of danger because it is on the very edge of what we can see and what we can’t. Elusive, violet. And of course, ultraviolet which is just sick nasty.
Violet is the color of light at the short wavelength end of the visible spectrum, between blue and invisible ultraviolet. It is one of the seven colors that Isaac Newton labeled when dividing the spectrum of visible light in 1672. Violet light has a wavelength between approximately 380 and 435 nanometers.