Today was the kind of drab gray day that is typical of this time of year in Maine. Snow melting on the ground, foggy air and leafless trees, damp and chill. The sun when it does shine stays low in the sky, so the light is weak even at mid-day. In this neutral colored world, I am reminded of how much I am fed by color. I know I am not alone in this need for rich saturated hues, whether they be the warmth of yellow, the passion of red, the cool depths of blue or the vibrancy of green. Did you ever notice how color affects your mood? On a gray day we may feel drab and gray ourselves. Sun and blue skies may uplift our mood. When I moved from California to Maine, I knew that the quality of light would shift dramatically in the long winters, so I painted the walls of my home warm sunny colors to offset the winter whites and grays. I am truly amazed that so many Maine homes have white walls when there is so much white here much of the year.
Color is reflected light and those light frequencies do resonate in us. We can actually be fed energetically by color. Likewise we can feel overwhelmed or jolted awake by color that is too intense or clashes with its surroundings. While we each may have our favorite color, there are properties to colors that are near universal. We see it reflected culturally in our use of language. We speak of seeing red when we are angry, having the blues when we are down or feeling golden when we feel enriched.
Notice what colors you have in your world. What does it say about who you are? Do the colors energize you, relax you or do you feel jarred or drained by them? Understanding how you react to color is vital to creating environments that are harmonious and effective for life and work. In one client’s office two walls were a khaki color, that felt oppressive and drab. Just shifting the shade to a clearer shade of celadon green lifted his mood while keeping a sense of calm in the space. Another client’s home office and meditation room had a large round red rug that filled the room. The magnetizing energy was overwhelming for the small 10’x10′ room, overpowering any sense of peacefulness that might have been created by the altar and furnishings. Putting a neutral rug in the space, especially a light colored one would brighten the room and create a sense of spaciousness and calm.
I am reminded of a great quote from master colorist, Georgia O’Keeffe in speaking about her paintings, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” Ultimately that’s where color affects us too. In the place that is beyond words. Our direct experience as a sensate being. Paying attention to how you color your world will help you in developing spaces that work for you on all levels.
If you would like help in coloring your world, I am available for consults, both on site and remotely.
For more information on the psychology of color these are some useful links.