Tag Archives: color

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.

NOTES:

~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

Autumn Bliss, Rediscovered

3 Nov

Today, I noticed–for the first time–a red-orange tinge on the leaves of my neighbor’s Snowball Hydrangea tree, its branches spilling over the back fence, just within reach of my garden shears.

I often notice, and have sometimes cut, the round, greenish “snowballs”, slowly whitening, delicate, but thick in flower, weighing down the ends of the branches.  I have often seen the soft, bright green of the new leaves in their season, crowning the sharp edge of the fence, bringing much-needed shade to the yard.

The Autumn switch remained completely overlooked, somehow.

Leaves reddening like the juice of a blood orange–how did I miss it?

I cut some leaves from the lower branches and set them in small jars to brighten the kitchen.

They are a simple reminder of Autumn, and also of one of my boldest and most precious memories.

When I was young, sitting in our backyard tree swing, I once looked up over the roof to see a great mass of leaves in the sunlight, illuminated, glowing in a shade of yellow-gold I didn’t fully recognize, so impossibly bright I imagined at first that the tree might be on fire!

I realized it was our front yard tree, which had always been there, sturdy, tall, unremarkable, perhaps a little bit scruffy–even so, in that late afternoon light, the burning glow of it held me, motionless and weeping, unable to look away until the light shifted with the sunset, and all at once the fire was quenched…then the tree was simply a tree, as it had always been.

At no time in my life, before or since, have I been so stunned by color.

I did not catch another glimpse of it.  The tree, a large one, had to be cut down some years later, its heavy trunk splitting apart, a danger to the house and passers-by.   The fire of those golden leaves remains etched in my mind, as unforgettable as if I had seen the face of God.

Now I look at these “blood-orange” leaves, cut from my yard, and I wonder how they escaped my notice for four consecutive Autumns.  I wonder what else I may have missed…