The Meaning of Color

15 Nov

“The meaning of a word – to me – is not as exact as the meaning of a colour.  Colours and shapes make a more definite statement than words.”

~Georgia O’Keefe

Color is evocative.  It’s personal.  It brings memories.  It shapes our mood.

I started thinking about the significance of color this weekend, after I joined in helping my friends Zak and Lindsey** paint a room in their home.

Lindsey joked that the visit might inspire some blog posts for me, because with their house in the early stages of a radical fix-up, “There isn’t a clean surface anywhere in the house.” I didn’t think that was strictly true, but yes, in the end I was inspired to write .

For the record, with the new paint we applied to the walls and ceiling, there are now some lovely new clean surfaces in their house.

The paint color was carefully chosen by my friends to recreate the look of a specific place: the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Park.  I’ve forgotten the official name of the paint color now, but it doesn’t matter.  Like Georgia O’Keefe said, words are not exact.  If I tried to categorize the color, you would get the wrong idea.  Let’s just say it is a warm color, and it makes me think of Pottery Barn catalogs, and Italy — or at least my idea of Italy, I’ve never actually been there.  I haven’t been to the Ahwahnee either, but I guess I know what color the walls are.

As the paint slowly dried, in what will eventually be Zak and Lindsey’s master bedroom, something happened to the room.  We all noticed how the color affected the feel of the space.  It wasn’t just a fresh coat of paint, it was a transformation.  Never-mind the absence of a floor, the broken window, and the dangling wires — the room was suddenly established as inviting, cheerful, and warm… a place to be, instead of just a work in progress.

That kind of change is exciting.  If we had painted the room white, I can guarantee that the effect would not have been as dramatic; the room would only have looked cleaner…a clean surface, but not an inviting one.

Color is a gift.


~I have written before about color, and the powerful effect it can have on me (see Autumn Bliss, Rediscovered).

~The two poppy photographs above are among my favorite personal photos, and their color-match with this blog is just a happy coincidence.  They were taken on a walk during a vacation in Stinson Beach, California.

**  I normally don’t use friends’ names in my posts, out of respect for their privacy, but I recently (quite accidentally) discovered that Zak and Lindsey are already mentioned — and even shown in photographs — in a blog by one of their other friends.  So, that bridge has already been crossed.  See this friendly blog post from David Easson who knows Zak and Lindsey, and their dog Hoosier

18 Responses to “The Meaning of Color”

  1. Lindsey November 15, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    Aww, no worries to mention us! Thanks again for the help painting. The colour is by Sherwin Williams and is called white raisin. I can’t really describe it either, but what was super interesting, was when it was dark outside and we had the artificial light on, it looked like candlelight. In the morning, in the natural light, it looked like sunshine. I love it!

    Daves blog is great (though he hasn’t updated in a long time, busy moving cities and settling into a new job). He’s an old Uni friend and was doing a 3 month trip around the states this time last year, blogging all the way. As a foodie, I was recommending eateries in most places he was visiting, he blames me for probably about 10lb!

    • acleansurface November 16, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

      It was fun. Can’t wait to see the completed room.

  2. Ali November 15, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    Love both captures, nice shots.

    • David Easson November 16, 2010 at 2:08 am #

      At LEAST 10lb!
      I agree I should be blogging more – thanks for the link Rayme. Glad to hear the house is coming on nicely Lindsey. Dave x

      • acleansurface November 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

        You’re welcome, David. I enjoyed your blog.

    • acleansurface November 16, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

      Thank you, Ali.

  3. Eugene Eric Kim November 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    It reminds me of my experiences in India, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, where everyone wears glorious, bold colors. It just feels more happy and alive. I keep meaning to revamp my wardrobe to add more color. Of course, that would require me to actually shop, meaning it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

    • acleansurface November 16, 2010 at 10:20 am #

      I think you should go shopping. Take S., she’ll love it. =)

  4. Jessica November 15, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

    I absolutely love the poppies pictures!

  5. Teri November 15, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    Those poppies are gorgeous! (And I see where you are using the names.) 🙂 I like how I wont use Zeke’s name, but I will show his photo. So much for protecting his privacy… ha!

    • acleansurface November 16, 2010 at 10:19 am #

      I think, oddly enough, that the picture is more private…in the sense that it cannot be searched, like his name.

  6. Rose November 17, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    The color of those poppies is amazing! Pink poppies are so sweet and delicate! 🙂

    • acleansurface November 17, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

      Thanks, Rose. I like all kinds of poppies, and I have two large Georgia O’Keefe poppy prints in my house.

      • Lindsey December 8, 2010 at 10:22 am #

        you know what I just realized is really funny? In the blog post of Daves that you link to, he talks about going to the Winchester Mystery House – and our house was built by one of her architects, but for himself. And the next post he had was about going to Yosemite and having brunch at the Ahwahnee!

        Dave – yes, you need to blog more!

      • acleansurface December 8, 2010 at 8:41 pm #

        The reason I found Dave’s blog mention of you in the first place: I was logged into multiple pages while writing, and wanted to verify ‘Awahnee’, so I did a search on Yosemite with the name Zak, thinking it would go through Facebook, but instead I got Dave’s blog as a search result! The internet never fails to surprise me.

  7. Zahara December 27, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    Hello, just finally am checking out your blog after having seen your name around the blogosphere. I really like your blog. I have trouble with clutter, even though I also love a simple environment. Love what you said about color and how it makes you feel. Subscribing now….

    • acleansurface December 27, 2010 at 10:38 am #

      That is wonderful to hear, Zahara, thank you.

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