Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Close Encounter with Yellow

I usually don’t write about my personal experiences with color but a recent encounter with a startling yellow dress is worth the space on this blog. In fact, the dress was such a bright yellow that I felt like kids might try to ride me to school. Okay, it’s a cliche, but school bus yellow is a color that can really be too overwhelming for my fair coloring. Soft creamy banana yellow is okay, but not mango yellow.

The story of my unexpected experience with this color is quite typical of any wardrobe crises. The day before my scheduled color seminar for a group of bankers, I found myself at a loss for what to wear. Those extra pounds from all the great food in Pakistan ruled out most of my usual outfits and the options were a drab avocado blazer or a little black dress.

After three hours of shopping, I found it! A bright yellow shirtwaist dress. This would break all my rules about “my best colors.” I wondered if maybe I was so close to color that I couldn’t see my colors - my personal colors - objectively. How humbling to admit that it was time to get help. After getting positive feedback from the salesperson, random customers, and later the personal shopper at the store, I bought it.

I will never regret it. Of course, the obvious resulted. It was an instant identification of the color consultant speaker - and even before the introduction. It also helped make one of the points in the lecture: Pure yellow has the highest visibility of any color of the spectrum. (Which is why most fire trucks and emergency vehicles in the US are now yellow.)

This is not the end of the story because the most amazing things happened after the lecture. Although I was exhausted, I had to make several stops on the way home - a grocery store, a car wash, and the post office. During my brief encounters with cashiers and clerks, I was stunned by how abnormally friendly they were. It wasn’t me - I was lifeless and probably didn’t have any energy left over to smile - it was that color that overwhelmed people with happiness.

Happy, happy, joy, joy for yellow. Just for the record, it’s Pantone 1225C

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dyeing for Color

Restoring Color to Dead Lawns of Abandoned Homes

Foreclosed homes with dead, brown lawns can be found in just about every neighborhood these days. Apparently a business in California is waving a magic wand of green paint over the lawns and dressing up the properties. The water-based paint is chemical free and includes flower-based pigments.

Green Canary, a San Jose-area company, says that a typical front lawn can be painted for under-200 dollars and is guaranteed for six months. Amazing!

Restoring Color to Dead Lawns of Abandoned Homes

From Drab to Fab on the Floor

If grey concrete is as unappealing as a dead brown lawn, color can come to the rescue again. Concrete stains will transform that basement or patio floor or even the driveway. In this case, the transparent stains create a more natural mottled appearance. In other words, it’s not a solid coat of paint.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Where the Oceans Meet the Mountains

It’s green but it seems blue. Or does it? The Storm King Wavefield is a permanent installation by Maya Lin in Mountainville, N.Y. Seven parallel rows of rolling, swelling peaks on 11 acres were inspired by the forms of midocean waves but echo the mountains and hills around them. It’s made of natural materials: dirt and grass.

This evocative landscape of mountains and waves - greenness and blueness - raises a linguistic fact about color. Many languages do not have separate terms for blue and green. For example, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, and Chinese have color terms that cover both. Also, the Japanese word for blue (ao) is used for colors that English speakers would refer to as green, such as the traffic light for “go.”

Storm King WaveField- Where the Oceans Meet the Mountains

Distinguishing blue from green in language