|Colors and shapes mimic the desert|
After decades of trying to get the colors "right" I have finally realized that mother nature rarely follows the rules of man. The other day while walking my dog, I was watching all the landscaping that is going on along Ramon Road in Palm Springs. Grass is slowly disappearing as the rush to plant desert landscaping to save water during the California drought proceeds. It hit me that the landscapers, taking their cue from the desert, were using different rules as well.To be granted, some of these plants are not native to California or even the American desert but all are known to tolerate heat and lack of water ... or less than the amount of water grass needs to survive. I noticed that they were putting in some kind of drip irrigation to help the new plants survive and hopefully thrive. Yet look at these colors ... yellow, magenta, a red bordering on vermillion, as well as a variety of greens, tan dirt. A painter might faithfully record such a scene but to western, northern eyes they appear a bit discordant.
Not all cultures view colors this way. Visiting Hong Kong recently I was struck over and over again by their use of colors. Red is used everywhere! My case is point is this Buddhist Shrine we happened on. Can you imagine something like this is a Christian Church? Christian Churches tend to be monochromatic unless you have stain glass windows. This seems to be the only allowable way you can add a bit of color. However, not only are the shrines vibrant they also seem to violate Western views of the color wheel. Green and red, splashes of blue and orange, gold and a variety of greens.
I remember in one of my first advertising classes in college. Our director was also our teacher and he gave us a quick review of the color wheel ... what would work and what wouldn't. He was especially disparaging of red and green used together unless it was for Christmas. Always a kind of closet rebel I took that as a challenge. My ad, in those days we had to literally draw the headline typefaces, was for a line of women's clothing. I used red and an avocado green with tints of both of them for contrast. Black ink was a given so we were told to pick two more colors for a two-color ad. When I walked in with my masterpiece, I spent the entire day Sunday creating this, there were stares and a few gasps. I sat down and when he walked in, had us stand up one by one and show the class our creations. Most of the ads were pleasant enough but nothing really stood out until I showed my ad. The red literally popped off the page whereas the green became a foil, much like leaves on a tree filled with flowers, better than black even. He looked at it, then at me, shook his head and muttered, "I knew it. You took this as a challenge." I nodded and got an A.
|Hand blown vase|
Expressionists and many abstract artists were especially eager to use colors in this new way. After the Germans and especially Kandinsky, Russian born but German living, saw their first Van Gogh, German art turned upside down. They never did like the dreamy landscapes of the French Impressionists. They wanted the brute force of color and shapes. Then they created their own.
|Hong Kong Street at night|
The most popular blog I wrote here had to do with color. We all want to be sure that we use color "correctly." Yet, I ask, what is the correct use of color? Sure, we know that one color doesn't go with another ... or can it? We can look at a color wheel to get an idea of what is and IS NOT acceptable. Again, these rules seem to apply to western eyes only. Anyone that has ever been in the Orient or India knows that their use of color
|Even the lowly cactus is colorful|
As a kid growing up in the 50's color was all the rage in cars. Turquoise, vermillion and white, black, pink and white cars, even yellow and white. Cars were a showplace of your good and colorful taste. Then cars became white, silver and black. You could look down a parking lot and realize they just about all looked alike. Red made a comeback as did candy apple red. However, it was the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper using a variety of 50's pastel colors that seemed to turn the trick. Now we are seeing blues, rusty reds, shocking greens, yellows, gorgeous metallic browns alongside the
|1955 Ford Fairlane|
Yes, you need to learn more than the basics of color. You might want to read my blog FUN WITH COLOR written in Oct. 12, 2013 for the basics. Maybe its time to review it again. Life can be colorful or dull. It is up to you. However, the choice remains and will remain yours, and yours alone. My suggestion? Get some color in your life.
Thank you for reading my blog. I cover the way design affects our lives and urge you to check out my earlier blogs.