November 29, 2012 § 4 Comments
November 29, 2012
The Color/Design class is the gift that keeps on giving…to yourself and to your future.
Have you been dreaming about taking your career to the next level? Don’t wait for another year to invest in you. This is the time of year when you are often thinking about doing for others and overlook yourself and your own potential.
Join us in January in sunny Burbank, CA to attend my Color/Design training program where we immerse ourselves in color forecasting, color and emotion and learning more about consumer color preferences. Most of all, you will learn how to turn your love of color into a lucrative career or enhance and validate what you already know.
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
We are extremely thankful to Lee to allow us to share our work with her followers and friends through this amazing window.
Thanks a million, Lee!!
-Veronica Ettedgui & Toti Vollmer
November 9, 2012 § 2 Comments
November 9, 2012
Debora House is a multi-talented artist and colorist now living in Stockholm, Sweden. Debora and I met several years ago when I first moved to Bainbridge Island, WA and we formed a fast friendship as we are kindred spirits in color (and a lot of other things as well).
We have worked together on projects since then. Her sense of color is impeccable – so moody and evocative. Of course I have several of her paintings – several in my office, as a matter of fact!
Debora decided to take my online Image Color Training a few years back and I am hoping that she can join us for a future Color/Design program, whether in Burbank in January or here on the island in July (where she still has a lot friends). She is truly a gifted colorist and I invite you to view some of her latest paintings.
I am an artist. To me everything is open to arrangement and interpretation, from clothes to food to garden bulbs. I like the moment standing before the emptiness of the white canvas and knowing the first strokes are like the first lines in a novel – they will lead me to an unknowable place. I recall another artist saying, “If you know the outcome why bother painting the painting?” That’s how it is for abstract expressionism, you don’t know but you explore with hope and energy.
I have had the good fortune of being raised by a designing woman who taught me very young to memorize color. I have practiced recalling color my whole life. It has been what inspires me and has led me to pursue work in fields where it was required: Interior Design, Textile Design, Colorist and now as a painter.
When I took a course in Color Image Training under Leatrice Eiseman, I was forced out of my own comfort zone and personal preferences into colors as they suit or affect others. When a colorist like myself goes through what basically amounts to retraining the eye to see whole color stories as they relate to others, I was made to explore my emotional reaction to colors in a new way because I had to include colors I didn’t like! In learning to assess how certain colors that challenge me might suit someone else perfectly, I opened my heart to a much bigger palette. Using that knowledge as a painter let’s me explore and accept colors that, in the past, I would have omitted without a thought.
Before I begin a painting I think of the narrative of the story I want to tell. In the painting Northern Lights I wanted to communicate the mysteriousness of the Northern Lights. I live in Stockholm which is as near to the Arctic as one needs to be yet the lights always elude us. The time to see them is precisely when there is too much cloud cover to observe them. We can have months without a single ray of sunlight. Naturally this drives some people mad and if you’ve ever seen a Swede on a beach and wondered how they can lay there like a lizard for hours, days, on end, it’s because they are storing up the light. You know, you just know, those magical colors are out there swirling over your head but you can’t see them. So the painting is my way to illustrate the color behind the clouds and a roiling icy sea.
Pi in the Sky is a landscape about infinity. In a blue band that separates heaven and earth are the beginning numbers of Pi. The numbers start off the surface of the canvas on the side and wrap until there is no more room for the infinite formula. The intention is that math (something commonly perceived to be anchored in reality) at some point, in higher mathematics, becomes an abstraction. In the skyline is a fixed and accurate constellation in gold metallic – The Big Dipper.￼
Spring is a part of a series of seasons. Living in a place where winter lasts almost half the year, spring is a longed for time. I used colors that were, to me, hot or acidic: The new green of the grasses, the riotous reds of tulips and peonies, quince in the horizon line and a sky filled with golds and pinks inside the blues.
Spring comes quickly and once it starts it bursts forth all at once with energy and beauty.
I painted this painting quickly as well. It came together with a minimum of washes and almost no struggles. The green is an example of forcing myself to use a color that fit the piece but is not a color I am drawn to naturally. In that way it is more a practice of color theory than intuitive thought.
I feel I am always learning to see things in a fresh way and to enjoy where these color stories lead me. I want to have an experience that is self-satisfying in the process of creation and to look back later and see the sense of commitment that went into every layer. But mostly I want to stand before the next blank canvas and make the first stroke.
November 2, 2012 § 1 Comment
November 2. 2012
If you find yourself in Paris over the holidays (lucky you) you may want to head over to the Paris’ Grand Palais and view the Edward Hopper retrospective. Hopper’s “dark sensibilities helped him give expression to the bewilderment and discouraged feelings of Depression-era Americans.”
Edward Hopper’s work was so profoundly moving in color and subject matter that we felt compelled to include him our recent book: Pantone : The 20th Century in Color. Below are a few excerpts
“Edward Hopper was thirty-one before he sold his first painting-and forty-one before his career took flight.”
“…An accomplished technical artist, Hopper handled landscape, portraiture, and architecture with equal aplomb. What intrigues viewers, however, is not his technique, but the undeniable sense of loneliness Hopper creates with it. ”
“Hopper’s disquieting emptiness is rendered in paradoxically full-bodied tones of teal and emerald, ruby and amber, and in an earthy brown.”
Follow the link below to more on the retrospective.
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.
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.”
Do you watch Boardwalk Empire? Who is your favorite character?
October 10, 2012 § 1 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.
October 5, 2012 § 2 Comments
October 5, 2012
In the October booklet from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences there is a wonderful promotion for the up coming screening of a Chinese classic animation called The Monkey King: Uproar In Heaven (3D). The images were so striking and colorful that I had to share them with you. Below is an excerpt from the booklet.
“The Academy is proud to participate in the first China Onscreen Biennial (COB), launched by the UCLA Confucius Institute.
In scope and design, the COB is an unprecedented four-week bicoastal collaboration among American cultural organizations to promote U.S.-China dialogue through the art of film. The COB will look at both the present and past of Mainland Chinese cinema, bringing some of the best examples of contemporary Chinese filmmaking, as well as archival rarities and film restorations, to American audiences.’
‘THE MONKEY KING: UPROAR IN HEAVEN (3D) A beloved classic of Chinese animation, Wan Laiming and Tang Cheng’s 1960s animated feature returns to theaters after a painstaking and dazzling 3D makeover led by experts at Los Angeles-based Technicolor. One of the most famous characters in Chinese mythology, the mischievous Monkey King leaves chaos in his wake from the Dragon King’s palace to the heavenly halls of the Celestial Emperor. Set to a blended Beijing opera-orchestral soundtrack, the film casts an enchanting spell.”
If you are interested in animated classics and the usage of color in that context you might want to check it out.
Watch a clip from the movie below.
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?
September 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
September 12, 2012
I have answered many questions about color in my work. So many questions that I wrote the Color Answer Book to help to quell a lot of recurring themes. One specific question is how to create the illusion of more open space when working in a colorless cubicle with no windows.
My answer is as follows.
Many employees complain about lackluster surroundings and how uninspiring they can be. The lack of natural light coming into a space can be so depressing, but color can certainly help to create specific illusions in our surroundings. First of all, bring some sunshine into the space by using some yellow, especially in the spot facing your desk. This can be in a painted surface such as the facing wall or, if it is not possible to repaint the wall, in a piece of art or a poster. Yellow is most closely associated in the human mind with sunshine and good cheer, and will make the space appear larger and lighter.
Another method of opening up a cramped space is to use blue on the ceiling (suggestive of the sky), and if you can sponge on some white puffy clouds, all the better.
This may seem a bit extreme but new research is supporting the theory that “natural daylight is better for humans than the fluorescent bulbs most of us languish under for eight to 10 hours a day. Adding windows or simply improving artificial light in offices has been shown to increase productivity, boost morale and reduce the number of sick days, headaches and cases of eyestrain among workers.”
German applied-research group Fraunhofer is working on a balanced color spectrum of LED bulbs that will turn office ceilings into a lighting system that mimics the daylight sky with movement and changing hues.
This technology might not be available in your office any time soon. In the meantime you can stick with my tips of bringing yellow into the space and if your boss will allow, paint the ceiling blue and don’t forget the clouds.
Do you work in a windowless office in a cubicle? How do you keep the doldrums away at your desk?
Click the link below for the full article.
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?