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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. What 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 predicts that sky blue will pique our interest this year, like new bird song and a collective desire for expansiveness. Think: open sky and the vast horizons of the sea. We’re 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.

Inhale, exhale.

Last month, I 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

Carnation pink

Purple mountains majesty

Robins egg

Mountain meadow

Antique brass

Inch worm

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.

 

Coastal palette of home

Colors of the dry side of the island

 

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?

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.

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.

sky blue

morning fog

azure

dark blue

Santa Fe turquoise

sea glass

sacred blues

electric blues

deep sea blues

indigo

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]

Quiet power

Transformative

Held

Deep

Meditative

Protected

Cool

Refreshing

Connected to energies of the sky and water

Vibrant

Energized

At peace

Like a full exhale

This afternoon I am taking my pot of prepared fabrics over to the outdoor fire ring that I had built last weekend for a full moon dye day that got rained out and I will dip these soon to be altar cloths in the fresh indigo vat that has been patiently waiting for me. Some of these cloths I have spent this last week dyeing with an under layer of earthy yellow and will over dye with the blue for hues of sage and sea glass.

 

Fresh indigo vat

Blue hands after a session of indigo dyeing

 

I am feeling the stirrings of spring and am anticipating the coming equinox which feels like the slow unfurling of delicate petals. Fresh greens and clearing blues are here after some years spent in dye pots full of warming desert clays and corals. The images that I’ve been carving into new blocks for printing and adorning this collection of altar cloths and linen pinafore aprons is floral heavy and an ode to the heart and the home and the fertility of the season.

By next Saturday, March 13th, this new collection of offerings will have reached full bloom and will be ready to share with you.

 

reflection.

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 of plant dyes from the Hina Luna studio

[a rainbow palette of plant dyed organic fibers from Hina Luna’s early days in 2016]

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