Dreaming In Color
It was movie night for the children I babysit, and they chose a classic: The Wizard of Oz. To my dismay, the younger of the two ran around the room for the film's first 30 minutes instead of choosing to watch. Upon questioning (pleading, rather) him, his older sister explained that he "doesn't pay attention until there's color." Ok, respect. I struggle to captivate my brain in bleak surroundings at age 21, so it made sense that a three-year-old wasn't entertained by sepia-toned Kansas.
Like the color-craving kid, I grew up hue-happy myself. Some of my earliest memories include walking into my mom's art studio and immediately becoming entranced. The rows and rows of rainbow pastels, the "in-progress" drawings that looked perfect to me, the different scraps of fabrics laid askew by the sewing machine... it was a wonderland of creativity (and still is). One of my favorite things to do was to sit next to her as she mixed paint with her palette knife. Simple combinations of pigment created intense transformations, and the marbled effect that occurred in the process was equally as beautiful. "I wish there was a class just about mixing colors," I said, eyes wide. She looked at me and laughed. I'm still not sure why that prompted a chuckle. Perhaps it seemed impractical to an artist to mix paint with no purpose, or maybe it suggested that the apple didn't fall far from the tree.
Coupled with my love for fashion, my fascination for color only increased with time. What started out as "wow, pretty shade" grew into, "Why choose this hue for this garment? What message does this color convey in the product line? What methods are used to dye the fabric?" and so on. I wanted to know more about color than what was simply on the surface.
So, I researched: podcasts, articles, and my favorite book The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair. It's an excellent read if you'd like to know more about the history of color and its cultural impacts. In college, I took Color Theory: a course about hue perception, design elements, symbolism, and printing methods. Instagram also serves to provide an overflow of inspiration. Robin Verrier is an art director with an incredible eye, and one of my personal favorite hashtags to follow is #colorpaletting, started by @jennywalton.
Clearly, my mission to learn more about color was accomplished. But, what I didn't expect was to undergo a mental reset as well. It's now second nature for me to question color choices in packaging, interiors, and fashion. I create imaginary color palettes when I look at sunsets, dissecting each shade painted above me. When I meet a new textile, I imagine it covering every square-inch around me to learn what emotion its colors would create.
While color is an external modification, internal renovation inevitably occurs. Memories are stirred, associations are made, and feelings are felt. Without color, we'd be running around the room waiting for the show to start... thankfully, we've already made it over the rainbow.