Colorful Language

Photo: A Constellation of Mysteries

Color is just one of the infinite constellation of mysteries that make up my world, my life. What looks like nothing but the fabric of my black corduroy pants has a surprising amount of what looks like non-black color in it when I look very closely. A bit of digital exaggeration and enhancement to bring out the colors I see either heightens the illusion or tells me, once again, that color is far more than meets the eye!

I’ve been taught that color, or at least our perceptions of it, might be manageable. As an artist, I try my best to take advantage of that possibility. But I know my limitations. Even rather experienced and advanced color theorists in this day and age come up against problems with explaining and understanding precisely what color is and how it acts, despite knowing the differences between additive and subtractive mixing, knowing how the retina and brain perceive and communicate color ideas to us, or knowing how the environment and context of what we see affects our perceptions of color.

What does it really mean if I say that Black is a construct that represents the absence of color and White, one representing all colors combined? Or if I tell you that an orange is, well, orange, but in deep shadow it might appear brown or black, or light yellow? Or that humans have white or black or red skin! What gives a single one of these concepts any credence at all? Color, it seems to me, is a matter of faith as much as of science—like so many things we think of as immutable Fact in our little universe. What both science and faith seek to explain, it seems to me, is beyond the scope of human understanding no matter how brilliantly we study and how majestic and divine our inspiration would appear. What is all around us is supremely complex and beautiful and, to my mind, needs no understandable explanation to be so glorious.

No matter what color it is.

22 thoughts on “Colorful Language

    • I’d even go so far as to say that I think we *feel* color differently, as well as seeing it differently. I’ve sometimes wondered if the way I perceive something I think of as “standardized” like the primary colors is really entirely like the way anybody else views them or we have all just agreed on the construct fitting what we each, individually, think of as the primary colors. But mostly, I don’t think about such things because I’m too busy wallowing in what I like about the colors around me and what *I* can see in and do with them. 😀

  1. I love this post, and completely understand and agree with you…Your last sentence says it all.
    Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend my friend….It’s another bank holiday over here:) Janet. xxxx

    • That one is a bank holiday here, too. We spent the ‘day off’ working in Richard’s office *because* it was a holiday, meaning no noise and interruptions, and easier to get many busy-work things done. So we actually accomplished quite a bit, had a nice quiet day with just each other, and were safely tucked away while the storms were raging outside. I should add that the no-noise part applied only in the nobody-else-in-the-building sense, because it was the loudest thunderstorm outside, for most of the day, that I’ve yet heard while in the music building! Kind of fun, in the end, because we were together and safe and getting many tasks finished that have waited for such a chance. 😀
      xoxo!

      • Good morning, Kathryn….I have been thinking about you a lot because we have seen on the BBC news pictures and reports of terrible flooding and storms in Texas! Clearly you are experiencing them first hand….all I can say is…that this too shall eventually pass, and that inclement weather is a good time to do all the things in doors we put off when the weather is good…..Have a lovely day and hopefully the storms will abate soon. xxx

        • Still a number of days’ rain in the forecast, but we’re pretty safely tucked up where our house sits. In one of Mother Nature’s sly little jokes, the people who have been hardest hit by the flooding are of course lacking in potable water. But it was nice to hear that one of the region’s big breweries is converting their entire beer production facility to putting out canned water for the hard-hit, though I suspect that the storm-struck wouldn’t mind just having it all shipped as beer at this point, either! Love and happiness to you over the weekend especially, my dear Janet!
          xo,
          Kathryn

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