Blue Dye: A Historical Perspective And A Discovery

April 3, 2013 § Leave a comment


April 3, 2013

We know that most people who love learning about color are particularly fascinated by the history and background of various hues. Let’s have a quick lesson on blue and culture from my book Colors For Your Every Mood.

It was not until 4500 B.C. in Mesopotamia that blue emerged as a decorative hue. Brilliant blue threads were used in ancient Peruvian embroideries circa 800 B.C. While thousands of miles away, blue was used in linen fabrics found in the caves of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Image via

Image via

Indigo replaced woad in importance as a dye in the Middle Ages because it proved to be more hardy and reliable. It also made blue a more available color. Marco Polo was fascinated by the production of indigo in India where it was produced in great quantities and its quality desired. The color was extracted by plucking out a species of the herb by the roots, putting it into tubs of water and other ingredients and leaving it to rot. The reality of this glamorous color, admired by all the world, was some very labor and animal-intensive effort. The tubs of water containing the dye were also filled with a mixture of fruits, wood ash, or putrefied urine (camel urine was specially effective!) The dye-bath was actually a pale yellow, but oxidation eventually turned the textiles to blue.

Image via http://www.indigoarchitect.com/

Indigo in a pot

Now take a look at what a new discovery has revealed about the Maya and their secret recipe for blue.

Maya Blue Paint Recipe Deciphered | LiveScience.

It Has Been Said That Purple People Are Easy To Live With But Hard To Know.

March 25, 2013 § 1 Comment


March 25, 2013

As we all know, color is a fundamental element in makeup choice, specifically the undertone of the makeup. To better understand undertone it is important to note that there are essentially three general classifications: warm, cool or neutral. Undertones denote an underlying color within any given hue.

With my Color Clock system every Colortime® palette has warm, cool and neutral colors, even though AM (Sunrise) tones are predominantly cool, PM (Sunset) tones predominantly warm, and Midday (Sunlight) is a balance of both.

The other day I read an article featuring Bobbi Brown on Ellemagazine.com where she talks about her new Lilac Rose Collection. Brown states that “The Lilac Rose Collection isn’t just about purple. It features dusty pinks and heather grays, which are more natural shades of purple and are perfect for creating a feminine smoky eye. Plus, these shades have blue undertones, so they look flattering on all skin tones.”

elle-bobi-brown-lilac-collection-de

Brown believes that a blue base of undertone is flattering to all skin types. This is a very interesting concept when there are actually three different undertones possible. But makeup, as we all know, is about experimentation and in the end, you really need to try before you buy to be certain that it’s going to work for you. And there are ways to “crossover” into any of the three classifications for special effects, which are discussed in my book, More Alive With Color.

 

My dear friend and colleague Judith August wrote a book called Gotcha Covered! The Compact Guide to Camouflage Makeup where she shares her makeup tips and techniques for using makeup to cover or hide areas that you may not want to be seen. In her book she has a whole chapter called Neutralizers and How They Work where she too sings the praises of Lavender as well as peachy orange and pink.

JudithAugustGotchacovered

Judith suggests using lavender liquid foundation as a “neutralizer to even out discoloration. Lavender acts like a neutralizer blending the different areas and creating an even palette.” Pink is Judith’s secret weapon. She believes that “the surprising effect of the color pink is its ability to help us look 10 years younger.”

What do you think? Have you found that lavender is flattering on your skintone? Do you have the perfect shade of pink? What are some of your secret makeup weapons?

My advise is to let your Colortime® palette guide you to the best cosmetic colors for you. Click here to find out more about the Color Clock and Colortime®.

The Shocking Nude That Changed America

February 28, 2013 § Leave a comment


February 28, 2013

As a color/design consultant, forecaster and author, I always look to the art world for inspiration and direction, especially shows and exhibits that are garnering much attention in the art world. So I read with great interest on artdaily.com about  one show that changed it all. 

“The International Exhibition of Modern Art — which came to be known, simply, as the Armory Show — marked the dawn of Modernism in America. It was the first time the phrase “avant-garde” was used to describe painting and sculpture.

On the evening of the show’s opening, 4,000 guests milled around the makeshift galleries in the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue.

Two-thirds of the paintings on view were by American artists. But it was the Europeans — Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne, Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp — that caused a sensation.”

Nudedescendingstairs

And what a sensation indeed! It was 100 years ago that art in the United States was forever changed. It was only one year later that Cubism would continue to evolve the world of art.

The serious, demanding intellectualism of the Cubist proposition was too important to be rendered in the decorative colors of the Fauves. Picasso and Georges Braque delivered their message in somber tones, along with the bits of wrapping paper, wallpaper, newspaper, and even sand, dirt, and house paint. Eventually, later Cubists like Robert Delaunay and Juan Gris introduced more vivid colors in a desire to capture the vibrant urban reality of pre-WWI Paris.

Nude Descending a Staircase (No.2) was the star of the Armory show and is a star in the book Pantone The 20th Century in Color. Take a minute to listen or read about the Armory Show from 1913. If that doesn’t quench your thirst you can click the link below to explore the website that the Smithsonian has put up that is a detailed timeline of archival material from that very show.

‘Armory Show’ That Shocked America In 1913, Celebrates 100 : NPR.

What Looks Lavender But Is Actually Blue?

February 14, 2013 § 1 Comment


February 14, 2013

Have you heard of the Stroop Effect?

stroop

Wikipedia states that “The Stroop effect is a demonstration of interference in the reaction time of a task. When the name of a color (e.g., “blue,” “green,” or “red”) is printed in a color not denoted by the name (e.g., the word “red” printed in blue ink instead of red ink), naming the color of the word takes longer and is more prone to errors than when the color of the ink matches the name of the color.”

I mention the Stroop Effect in reference to the blue rose, Applause, because it actually looks purple.

When we think of blue our minds conjure images of the sky and the sea. Blue is the color of constancy and truth. Yet, as we gaze upon the “blue rose” we see lavender or purple.

Applausebluerose

Blue (or any other color, for that matter) can also hold some deeply rooted cultural associations. For example, in some societies, blue is viewed as a protective color. In the Middle East front doors are painted blue to keep the evil sprits from entering the house while many Native Americans paint the front doors of their dwellings blue for the same reason.

How does this effect our psyche?

When we see the blue rose our minds are registering purple. Purple is the combination of the excitement of red and the tranquility of blue, the marriage of two diametrically opposed emotions.

A critical balancing act always exists. Which emotion takes the lead?

What is your visceral reaction to this blue rose? Are you feeling conflicted by its name and color?

Please enjoy a poem and a song about blue roses.

Blue Roses

Roses red and roses white
Plucked I for my love’s delight.
She would none of all my posies–
Bade me gather her blue roses.

Half the world I wandered through,
Seeking where such flowers grew.
Half the world unto my quest
Answered me with laugh and jest.

Home I came at wintertide,
But my silly love had died
Seeking with her latest breath
Roses from the arms of Death.

It may be beyond the grave
She shall find what she would have.
Mine was but an idle quest–

Roses white and red are best!

Rudyard Kipling

Ready To Paint? Wait, Try This First

February 5, 2013 § 6 Comments


February 5, 2013

When it comes to decorating your home one of the quickest ways to make a change is with paint. Whether you are painting the walls, furniture or the ceiling, paint can give you that lift without having to do a full scale renovation.

yellow-interior-1

But how can you be certain that the color chip will look the same when it is applied to the wall?

For novice painters (as well as veterans) it is always amazing to see a pastel such as a light Candy Pink, turn into Bubblegum on the walls. A small sample will rarely be seen as the same color when viewed on a much larger scale, as the color becomes more intense when you are literally surrounded by it. In addition, there are other considerations, such as the color of the surrounding space, particularly ceiling and floor. Most importantly, it is the quality and quantity of light in the space that will make the difference.

turquoise-living-room

It is always best to start with a simple chip that is more subdued than the color you envision in the space. If you are working with a professional painter, colorist, or decorator, or are brave enough to experiment on your own, you can also try modifying the base color with a dollop of its complementary color. You can also try “dirtying” the color a bit (not a bad thing in painter’s parlance) by adding a pinch of brownish umber shade sold in tubes and bought in a paint or hardware store. Follow the directions on the label. If you prefer a grayer shade, you can always add a bit of black, but experiment first.

Here are some additional guidelines before spackling and tackling the walls:

Test the color in the actual setting.

Test your color over a white background. This can be done directly on the wall or on a large poster board or masonite measuring at least five feet by five feet.

Paint two coats of color over the white.

Move the board around to different areas of the room so that you can see it at every angle.

Look at the test at different times of the day to see how the color might change in natural light and artificial light.

If the effects are pleasing, you are ready to roll.

Do you have a painting story or painting horror story? What successes or failures have you encountered when taking on a painting project? Did you “Do It Yourself” or hire a professional?

Comic Book Color And The Creatives Behind It

November 26, 2012 § Leave a comment


November 26, 2012

Comic Books for Social Change

This is no news: comic books are a well-known powerful media to send social messages. There are many examples of successful experiences that connect them with positive social change all over the world.

Animal Defenders

Comic book characters have a lot of power because they can do anything and everything and also have the potential to engage a super broad audience in age, background, and reading skills. That, and our love of color, design, the environment, storytelling and teaching is what pushed Veronica and me into this adventure.

She is a graphic designer and illustrator, I am a teacher and a writer and together we founded and manage Musgo Comunicación Visual, a design studio based in Caracas. But we wanted to give something back, so we also teamed up to build Patrulla Verde, an environmental NGO devoted to producing free educational contents via the Web, some in print, as well as public speaking in schools, colleges, community centers, companies and even malls and public spaces.

We pooled together our talent and experience in an effort to send an environmental message conductive to action to children and adolescents in the Spanish-speaking community, which at least in our neck of the woods, lacks resources and local information and direction. Three years later we are trying to reach English speaking kids as well.

Vero created four endearing characters and together we made meaning out of them. Tomas represents all themes related to water, Zoe embodies renewable energy, Lucas defends biodiversity and Beto, the bunny, is the only “non-human”, and he gives voice to the other more than 10,000,000 species with whom we share the planet. His theme is global warming.

Animal Defenders

Animal Defenders pg 1 (English version)

 

Choosing a color palette was a challenge because the characters had to each have their own identity but also, when pooled together into a vignette or drawing, they had to look in harmony, as part of a team.

Animal Defenders

Beto and Lucas are a twosome, they play together and joke together and that’s why they both wear the same red hat. Nobody else wears red, but for each one of the other two characters there are blues and greens that obviously talk about nature. Tomas’s orange hair and darker skin are in line with him being a laid back, beach-loving kid. And Zoe’s hot pink speaks of fun, bubbly, the color of an empowered girl that, although super feminine, is opinionated and fierce when she knows she is right.

Regarding the backgrounds, the predominant color of a page is always related to the mood and atmosphere of the storyline… which means that the writer, ejem! …that’ll be me, is the true trendsetter here, because it is she who decides if the situation is a comedy or a drama, if it’s day or night, indoors or outdoors, happy or sad. It is actually a lot of fun to set new challenges in each story for Vero!

Animal Defenders

In this particular issue, Animal Defenders, she chose happy bright colors for happy bright moments and darker ones that vary if it is just night or a scary situation, or a suspenseful, stressful one. When the characters are able to reflect upon their experience light comes again, but in a different way than in the happy beginning. This is a less saturated shade of yellow, paired with light grays because it is later in the day, and deeper into the kids’ thought process.

Learning about psychology of color in Lee’s seminars and workshops has proven to be an extremely powerful tool to better the work we do, and to engage the population we want to reach. Patrulla Verde-in this case Veronica-was even showcased in Green Graphics, a publication by Catalonian publisher Index Books (2011), for our characters, logo and image.

Toti and I at the Color/Design class graduation ceremony.

We are extremely thankful to Lee to allow us to share our work with her followers and friends through this amazing window.

Veronica and I at the graduation. This is one of my favorite parts of the class.

Thanks a million, Lee!!

-Veronica Ettedgui & Toti Vollmer

Speak, See, And Hear Color.

October 19, 2012 § 2 Comments


October 19, 2012

In my first book I asked John Williams, who has written musical scores for “Star Wars” and “E.T.,” if he had ever written music to correspond to color in a film. He said that when he composed the score for “Close Encounters” he developed a distinctive musical signature to announce the presence of something mysterious in outer space. The sound of each note was given a different color on the screen.

In The Rainbow Book, it tells about famed artist Wassily Kandinsky, who compared the sounds of musical instruments to colors. He perceived light, warm red and medium yellow as strong, vigorous, and triumphant-the sounds of trumpets.

Today we are seeing this synesthetic color interpretation in Jeffrey Wirsing’s costume work in the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire. I am devoted to the show. I am taken with every aspect of this show and it has been the subject of many water cooler conversations. Of course it was fascinating to find out that there was a color connection with the designer who is a “sympathetic synesthete”.

My favorite character on the show is the leading female character, Margaret Thompson, played by Scottish actress Kelly MacDonald. She started on the show as a needy widow who met Nucky Thompson, the leading bad guy in the series (not a nice person) and went on to marry him, primarily to provide a home for her two young children. Her character progresses into a person quite admirable for her charity work and belief in women’s health causes, in spite of being married to a mobster! The transitioning of her wardrobe was fabulously done—from plain to the high fashion of the day in the 20s. The colors and the designs are wonderful and a really well-researched part of the show.

Margaret Thomspon Season One

Margaret Thompson Season Three. She has come a long way since season one and you
can see it in this image.

Below is an excerpt from his interview in Psychology Today.

Jeffrey Wirsing talked about his work on the show “I have been working for the past almost four years on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, set in the 1920s, where I have found a great use of all my skills, in costume, in restoration, in my printed fabrics and my color sense for dyeing fabrics.”

Jeffrey Wirsing created the Nubian costumes in this scene.
I know you can’t see them here but they existed.

Do you watch Boardwalk Empire? Who is your favorite character?

When Movement And Form Are Color | Psychology Today.

Yellow Sunflowers To Change The Face Of Depression

October 10, 2012 § Leave a comment


October 10, 2012

Today is World Mental Health Day. The World Heath Organization website states “The day promotes open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention, promotion and treatment services. This year the theme for the day is ‘Depression: A Global Crisis’.

 

Depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. Although there are known effective treatments for depression, access to treatment is a problem in most countries and in some countries fewer than 10% of those who need it receive such treatment.”

One of my former Color/Design students and colleagues, Kathryn Goetzke, is the founder and head of iFred, the International Foundation for Research and Education for Depression (www.depression.org). She is also the innovator of Mood-lites™ (www.mood-factory.com) a category of lighting that is distributed through Lowes.

 

Kathryn has made it her mission to change the face of depression with a rebranding solution. She is aligning depression with uplifting colors like yellow and Sunflowers that inspire hope. Her insightful use of color and imagery is changing the way we look at depression.

 

What Is Your Favorite Color?

September 26, 2012 § 2 Comments


September 26, 2012

This is a repost of an interview that I did four years ago. These are questions that I still get asked almost daily but it seems that they are just as relevant today.

1. Considering that teenagers are probably not consciously aware that colors can affect how they feel, please explain in simple terms why colors influence us so much. I realize you could write forever on this topic, but I’m just looking for a basic explanation that young readers can understand.

Teenagers can remember how, from very early on when they were given their first box of Crayolas, how they were fascinated by color. And as they have grown older that fascination translated into the color of their toys, bikes, clothing or nail polish! The human mind (and eye) is adapted to “reading” and interpreting color. Red for danger as in stop signs, yellow for the approaching school bus and so on. So color is not just a question of most or least favorite, but also about color as signals, color and its associations to nature, as well as color and emotions. (See below)

2. How is it that each color has become associated with different emotions? I would think it’s partly due to their appearance in nature. For example, fire and blood are red, therefore red means burning love or anger or passion. Are there other reasons for these associations?

You are correct. Much of color feeling comes from its context in nature. Humans are very aware of the most general reactions. From the time they are babies, the presence of color in nature is very apparent in their everyday lives. For example, from the first time they were taken outside for a walk in their strollers, they were aware of the green that is so all-present in nature. Then as they grow older, they go to the park, play in the backyard, take a walk in the woods and do all of the other things that invariably attach the color green to nature. Green is the #1 association that people have to nature. So it continues to evoke that feeling as time goes on into adulthood.

3. In your book you list adjectives and personality traits under specific shades of colors. Does that mean those colors make us feel that way? For example, sky blue is calming. Why is that?

The example you chose is a good one. Blue is considered calming and dependable primarily because of its connection to the sky. The sky is a ‘constant’ in our lives. It never goes away or falls to the ground. Even on those gray or cloudy days, we know that the blue sky is still there and when the clouds disperse, there is the beautiful blue sky again!! So there is also a hopeful quality to it. Likewise, yellow is so connected to sunlight that it is invariably thought of as cheering and warm. We are drawn by yellow, just as the sun draws us. It is also the most visible color in the spectrum – reaching out and grabbing our attention.

4. What if I prefer a certain color? Does my favorite color say anything about my personality or does it just make me feel a certain way when I see that color? For example, your book describes deep blue as reliable, traditional, and introspective. I love that color and would describe myself in those terms. Is that coincidence or not?

Of course, there are always personal associations to color. Perhaps pink is a favorite because every time you wear it, someone gives you a compliment. Or perhaps, it was the color of the cotton candy that you ate too much of at a carnival that made you very sick on the way home. More than likely, pink is not going to be a pleasant association after that! As to your describing yourself in the same terms as the color, there is often a strong connection between your personality traits and the colors you choose. Many people are innately drawn to the colors that reflect their personality. But remember, they can also express who you would like to be or how you would like others to think of you. Barack Obama wears a lot of blue. Is that because it is a favorite color or that he wants people to believe he is reliable and dependable? I can’t speak to that, as I don’t know him personally, but politicians have often used the power of persuasion in their clothing.

5. Along the same lines as #4, the Luscher Color Test is well known but also controversial in its ability to provide insight about people. What do you think of color quizzes like this?

I think there is a great deal of truth in Luscher’s findings. I think it can get a bit confusing with the color in first place, second place and so on, but there is definitely credibility. We can speak in general terms (although every person is an individual and can fit many of the general descriptions) but personal experience can “color” their feelings.

6. If you were advising a school on what color(s) to paint the classrooms to help the students perform better on tests, what would you recommend?

That is a “magic bullet” question that I cannot answer. There is no one magic color. The amount of light that comes into the room, the direction it faces and so on all play a part in the “best” color for that room. And I suspect, in the long run, there is no color that can substitute for good study habits!!

(Do I sound like your fifth grade teacher, or your Mom?!)

What are your color questions?

It’s Colortime! Pantone Fashion Color Report Spring 2013

September 6, 2012 § Leave a comment


September 6, 2012

It’s that time of year again. Pantone has just released their Spring Fashion Color Report for 2013. It is such an exciting time for fashion with summer coming to a close and everyone embracing their fall wardrobe and looking for a change. I often hear people say that fall is their favorite season because of the clothing. I might have to agree with them but not just for the boots and sweaters, I love that the colors change as well.

This season, designers overwhelmingly address consumers’ desire for self-expression, balance and the need to re-energize. The color direction for spring builds upon these compelling needs with a palette that mixes dynamic brights with novel neutrals to create a harmonious balance. This allows for unique combinations that offer practicality and versatility, but at the same time, demand attention and earn an appreciative glance.

If you are looking to perk up your wardrobe with some pops of color, why not start here? Keep your Colortime in mind and you will be sure to wow your friends and co-workers.

 

Not sure what Colortime you are? Use your hair, skin, and eyes as your guide to finding your perfect Colortime. Once you know your Colortime (Sunrise, Sunlight, or Sunset) you can use the fanguide to help you match your best colors to those in the new color report. This doesn’t make you trendy it makes you a smart shopper. You can embrace the colors that aren’t in your Colortime by using them in smaller proportion like accessories or nail polish.

 

What color(s) will you embrace? Which is your favorite?

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