Pat's View: What's your favorite color?
By Patrick Robinson
I’ve been thinking about colors lately. Specifically about my favorite color. When you are a kid, and you are making up your mind about the world, you sometimes ask others what their favorite is as a way to size them up.
In the fourth grade my Mom bought me a beautiful Kelly Green short sleeved, button down shirt. I remember it vividly and I recall thinking, “This is my favorite color” as I gazed at it. I wore it a lot. But in the moment I declared it as my favorite I immediately felt kind of guilty. I still liked blue. Specifically a kind of cobalt blue.
And to be honest I was very partial to a shade of red, a kind of melon color that they had used to do the walls and carpets inside the original Cinerama theater in downtown Seattle.
Why do we have favorite colors? Do they have meanings or effects on us?
As a photographer, I am very sensitive to color and the emotional values it communicates so I’m aware that Color Theory is a huge field of study with regard to reproducing colors in print, on a screen, or in a projection. But there’s a lot more to it.
Color psychology is an area that is, surprisingly only recently getting more attention despite the fact that ancient cultures including the Egyptians and Chinese practiced chromotherapy or the use of colors to heal. Today it’s a kind of holistic or alternative treatment. One source I found online said:
- Red is used to stimulate the body and mind and to increase circulation.
- Yellow is thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body.
- Orange is used to heal the lungs and to increase energy levels.
- Blue is believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain.
- Indigo shades are thought to alleviate skin problems.
Color influences so much in fact that consumer package design is very carefully considered, tested and balanced. The color of your car often says something both to you and about you. Signage, your house paint, and your clothing of course all communicate something with the color they carry.
While there’s a lot about color we can learn and certainly speculate about, I want to suggest an experiment you can try.
Look around your home, or out in the world, on a walk or wherever you happen to be and find your favorite color. It may even change as you look for it. But once you’ve found it, get very close to it so that just that color completely fills your eyes. No shadows or highlights if you can, the point is to fill your mind with just that color. Then, take about 10 deep breaths, exhaling slowly through your nose as you think about that color. A memory is going show up. Maybe from long ago, perhaps more recent. Make note of that memory. Why did your favorite color trigger it? Try this with other colors. See what happens.
For me, I think my favorite has moved on from Kelly Green, Cobalt Blue, and Melon Red.
It’s now what I call Theatrical Spotlight Purple.
I first encountered it in the sixth grade.
The spotlights above the stage had glass color filters and the purple one, as you looked at the light from the side, the beam itself, that glowing, mysterious, dramatic, powerful and beautiful light, I was transported. Out of my day to day life, and into a realm of infinite imagination.
I still am.