Lint-Trap 1/20/01: Color Sense

Color Sense


Some nice email from Dawn of American Grafitti suggested that I try to make my site a little more eye catching. She even, in the nicest way possible, used the term 'drab' to describe my earlier style. So I'm off to the races.

In replying to Dawn's letter, I realized how much crap I have to deal with around color.

My first wife was an artist. She got absolutely no recognition from other artists, but she produced a modest body of paintings that really pass the test of time, as far as I'm concerned. I have lived with some of them for 20 years, and never tired of them.

She loved color (truly the kind of person who gloried in being alive in the 60's), and much of her technical struggles in painting involved subtle color mixes.

She thought I was color blind, and, in her forthright way, didn't hold back from telling me so. She was particularly convinced that I was 'blue/grey' color blind. I would see certain colors as blue that she would see as grey. She shredded my ego for ever doubting her opinion, subsiding finally into a silent pity that was more devastating than the criticism had been.

I'm left handed, which provides some unique challenges in the graphic arts, so I didn't have a strong record of scholastic artistic achievement to help me withstand this assault.

I ended up believing that I had a terrible color sense, and if I thought some color looked good with another, I was just wrong. And I came to believe this at a pretty deep level.

I hated to shop for clothes. All my socks are block. The number of shirt colors I have is very limited and extremely timid.

I have delighted in wearing shirts of unusual colors given to me as gifts, but I would never buy one for myself. I'd certainly pick the wrong color...

My second wife was more of the velvet glove than the iron fist. She too was quite able to produce the pitying look, punctuated by several stifled sighs. Being a perfectionist, she would rarely say something was bad, but could always find ways that it could, and should, be improved.

Even Diana, who accepts so many of my limitations with such grace, is so talented in doing little artistic projects, and does them with so little sense of their own value, that the whole effect is very intimidating.

When I left my second marriage and was setting myself up in a small apartment, I went to the Futon shop and picked out a futon to serve as an emergency guest bed. I had no problem finding the model I wanted for the price I wanted, but when the salesman asked me "what color do you want" I had what could only be called a panic attack. I got chills, broke into a sweat, and started to stammer. I managed to suggest that I would come back the next day. By then, I had noticed that the apartment had a lot of dark blue tile, so a light blue Futon would look good. As it turned out, I've enjoyed the color.

Slowly during the next few years, my color sense began to stir. I've talked about the Shadow side in earlier entries--well, having a sense of color, and authority about color, is really in my Shadow side. I'm beginning to approach color as fun, as play. Reclaiming my color sense from the women and 'authorities' I ceded it to will be an exciting part of my growth.

And you, dear readers, will be there. Thanks to Dawn, you are invited to the party. And in honor of Dawn, I've made my background almost precisely the color of two thirds of the sky a couple of days ago at sunrise. Soon, picturs. Perhaps, in a fit of bravado, a primary color. An accent. A design. Could it be, dear readers, that I might aspire to a style.

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2001 Pete Stevens. All rights reserved.