Our Emotional Relationship With Color
Every turn of the season, I like to read the color reports for the anticipated trending colors of the upcoming months. It’s my preferred method of a dose of pop culture. Which hues are walking down the runways, what colors is the nation’s populace painting their kitchens — I can’t explain the appeal for me other than its a crossroads of mockery and intrigue.
While I don’t use this as a tool for formulating my own creative color palettes, I do find something very human in our collective relationship to color and these seasonal reports [although targeted to consumers] say something deeper about our desires.
One of these color forecasts predicted that sky blue would pique our interest in 2021, like new bird song and a collective desire for expansiveness. Think: open sky and the vast horizons of the sea. Ready and waiting for a deep breath of fresh air, a wash of cleansing rains, unclouded views of clear sky and a stretching horizon; space to grow. Sky blue feels honest, transparent, simple, hopeful, calming, and new.
The language of color
I once posted an empty reply box in my Instagram stories asking my community which color is speaking to them in this phase of their life. I received dozens of replies of the most poetic and vivid descriptions of color that it reminded me of being a child, pulling crayon after crayon out of the big box of Crayolas just to read their names. Side note, this is one of my dream jobs: namer of colors. Crayons, house paint swatches... this is a highly underrated form of poetic artistry, in my humble opinion. But back to the crayon box, some of my favorites in both name and color were
Purple mountains majesty
As you read through these color names you could see them, right? Were you momentarily transported to the places where these colors exist? Where did they take you? What did you see? How would you describe these colors to someone who hadn’t experienced them before?
Color has the magic ability to transport us through space and time. It conjures memories, and response, and conversation, and emotion.
I have been provoked by the terrain of dry coastal cliffs, by dusk falling over the lush landscape of home, by tinted sky reflecting off horses’ backs, and by the salty tide of the sea. We all, in our unique ways, have experienced the spectrum of color’s energetic effects. Generally, we tend to find cool colors to be inspiring and calming, warm colors to be passionate, bold and confident. Unlike beauty which is subjective to not only a culture and a community but to each individual, our collective responses to color feels mostly united. Is yellow anything but joyful?
The root of the color/human relationship
So where do our emotional responses to color come from then if they are not solely influenced by culture? Carnation pink. Robins egg. Mountain meadow. Inch worm. Here’s my theory: through our direct observations of and experiences with the natural world around us, we as global human beings have developed a collective emotional relationship with the color spectrum.
For thousands of years, we have experienced a gentle rain, the sky at dusk, a roaring fire, drifting snow, fertile soil, seaside cliffs, open plains, desertscapes, and lush forests. We have observed what happens to the plants when the rains come and what happens to the land when they don’t, we have witnessed the effects of fire, and the quiet of a winter snow. Of course not every region of the world experiences the same natural elements or to the same degree, but I dare to bet that the sun, for example, might evoke a common feeling of hope, warmth, happiness.
The color report didn’t lie
So as for the results of the question I posed in my Instagram stories — what color is speaking to you during this phase of your life? — almost every response contained some descriptive variation of the same color — blue.
Santa Fe turquoise
deep sea blues
As I was writing this, I felt inspired to pose a part two to my community: how do you feel when you think of the color blue? And the responses were
Calm [most mentioned]
Connected to energies of the sky and water
Like a full exhale
Take a few minutes to sit outside your home space. Observe the elements that exist around you [plant life, the color of your sky, what you see on the horizon, the infrastructure around you if you’re in a city].
If you were to create five color swatches of your surrounding home space, what would you name them? [This is you as the mysterious crayon box color namer. Get as creative and as specific as you can. Try to invent names that accurately describe your unique colors of home].
[a rainbow palette of plant dyed organic fibers from Hina Luna’s early days in 2016]