Love it or Hate it: Color

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

Love it Plum. Olive. Emerald. Azure. Jade. Coral. Not only are these gorgeous words – they’re gorgeous colors.

Think about the things you find most beautiful: the glow of the setting sun on the tip of a mountain peak, fall foliage, the sparkle of the Aurora Borealis. It’s the color in these images you’re probably responding to.

Colors are proven to have psychological effects. They influence our emotions and sway our purchases. In a study called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90 percent of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone. We always react passionately to the tints of nature (most people prefer when the sky is blue and grass green) or in a home (interior designers and laymen alike put Herculean effort into matching bathroom towels and bed sheets).

Delight can even be found in color names. Take a look at the paint swatch section of any hardware store; that’s where all the greatest pigment titles lurk. Mermaid Net. Flamingo’s Dream. Grandma’s Sweater. They’re silly, but prove how evocative hues can be. Whoever named Grandma’s Sweater must have had a grandmother who wore such a sweater. Color is entirely dependent upon our personal experience – no two people see it exactly the same. Or even if they did, there would be no way of knowing. The subjectivity is the best part.

Colors don’t look right by themselves. The contrast between shades actually makes them “pop,” as Tim Gunn would say. They accentuate each other and come alive. Perhaps that’s why the gay pride symbol is a rainbow.

Anya Jaremko-GreenwoldHate itI look at rainbows and say, “meh.” The most magnificent sunset? “Ho hum.” How could one hate color? Well, I hate the fact that I can’t see colors like you can. I’m color blind, but I’d have to do a bit of research to tell you which type. You’ll say, “is it red/green? My last boyfriend was red/green.” And I’ll say, “I said I don’t know,” and then your friend will say, “What color is this?” and point to various nearby objects to see just how color blind I really am. This is my life.

A quick primer on color blindness. I do not see in black and white. I’m not a dog. I have a decent color sense and usually always know what a color is not: Something that is yellow does not look blue. Overall, colors are duller and not as vibrant. Colors close on the spectrum are hard to differentiate. Some colors, like oranges and light greens, can look the same, especially without the context of another color.

So yeah, it’s a drab, drab world. And you never let me forget it. Think about how many things are characterized importantly in terms of color: Clothes, cars, art, sunsets, maps, traffic lights. Directions often involve references to the color of things – houses, buildings, signs.

It’s your colorful world, and I’m just living in it.

David Holub


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