An item in the December issue of Psychology Today covers the arena of colours, which are not perceived the same universally, since many of us literally see them differently.
The article focuses on the daughter of a London florist, as such well acquainted with a wide palette from an early age, who has authored a book titled, “The Secret Lives of Color” (not British spelling, for some reason). The latter covers the history of seventy-five colours, including such obscure varieties as hematite and obsidian.
In the interview, the author gets to make such points as:
- Black became a colour of fashion as far back as the Middle Ages, remaining fashionable thanks to its being ‘austere and different’
- The classic example of changing perceptions of colour is blue and pink: early in the last century blue was considered feminine and pink masculine
- Colour names affect perceptions, especially when dealing with shades such as Sweet Sighs or Electric blue
- It is sobering to realize that ancient columns and statues were not whitish, but were in fact coloured in deep and vibrant hues such as greens and purples
- Interpretation of visual cues can be affected, as in seeing the colour coordination of an object as darker or lighter, depending on its filtering light
While these are thought-provoking insights, there are many other aspects of the historical palette upon which to reflect:
- A secret vote in the late 1970s kept the singular version of the colour orange, rather than orange orange to be more in tune with lemon yellow
- Rust was originally deemed not apropos for a shade due to its tendency to corrosion
- The Irish association with green partly relates to envious thoughts about other lands while laying in verdant grasses
- Science is working on a 3D version of a palette for painting, in anticipation of accommodating new multidimensional colours
- Describing an image as colourless or ‘clear’ refers to the acronym constant lucent effect all rendering
- In many states, the yellow rose is not automatically considered feminine
- True white flags are composed of washed undergarments
- The expression of ‘a rainbow of colours’ was coined early last century by the Society of Liquid Precipitation Chasers
When it comes to colours, only in limited circumstances is the gray the thing.