DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Sep 19 2012

Living in Color

by Dea Anne M

Every fall and spring,  the color giant Pantone releases its “Pantone Fashion Color Report.” Timed to coincide with the twice yearly Fashion Weeks held in New York, London, Milan, and Paris, the report spotlights a handful of colors corresponding to Pantone’s famous Color Matching System that appear prominently throughout the collections. The report is widely used by the fashion and home decor industries to establish the colors that we will all potentially wear and live with through the coming months (although most of us don’t replace our clothes and furnishings that often!). The Fashion Color Report for Spring 2013 is out now. Also, check out the color report specific to menswear here. Along with the color reports, Pantone chooses a “color of the year” which is selected using input from prominent players in the international color, fashion, and design industries. This is a color meant to represent current global trends and moods. 2012’s Color of the Year is Tangerine Tango which will, according to Pantone’s website, “provide the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about color recently because I’ve undertaken a project to turn a seldom used office in my house into a dedicated crafting and art space. Since I want this room to be a place that will both soothe and inspire me, the right colors seem essential. Lucky for me, there’s a wealth of ideas and guidance on online (Pinterest being a particular favorite) and great resources right here at DCPL. One of my favorites is Color Style: how to identify the colors that are right for your home by Carolyn Warrender.  The author presents seven color palettes – six inspired by the elements plus one called Naturals. Each palette has a “cool” and “warm” spectrum. There’s even a questionnaire to help you determine your type. I haven’t taken it yet but I know that I’m drawn to the rich colors of the “warm” choices in the Fire and Earth palettes. Another book that I’ve found helpful is Color Idea Book by Robin Strangis. The author shows how to combine colors to create specific effects and moods. Now, for my art space do I want to go Sophisticated or Earthy? Classic or Adventurous? I can’t decide, at least not yet since I still need to get everything up off the floor! I do know that I love the author’s suggestion to visit a museum and find a painting that appeals to me and note the colors that I see.

Another of Strangis suggestions is to open my closet and see which colors I am drawn to. Well, now that presents a bit of a problem. For someone who respects and loves color as much as I do I have, at least up until recently, found myself wearing a drab mix of black, gray, and other neutrals. Don’t get me wrong, I think that these colors, when worn by someone with the right coloring and personality, can be terrific, distinctive, and quite flattering. On me though, these colors don’t seem well-considered and I never feel quite right in them. I grew up with a mom who had studied Color Seasonal Analysis a system popularized by Carole Jackson in Color Me Beautiful. Mom, a Winter (who looks fantastic in black, white, and gray), insisted that I always wear the correct colors for my Autumn hair and skin tones. For years I followed the rules which wasn’t really onerous since those are the colors that I actually like best. Now, for whatever reason, I find myself with a closet full of colors that leave me uninspired. I certainly can’t just go out and replace everything right away but I am gradually trying to correct the situation. Jackson’s book, released initially in 1984, is dated and, in some regards wrong, most glaringly in Jackson’s insistence that all women of color are Winters which just isn’t true. The book has since been revised to correct this and also to incorporate a broader range of “seasons” bringing the total of palettes from the previous four to a more realistic twelve. I still believe that the seasonal approach to colors is valid and one discovery I’ve made recently is David Zyla’s terrifically entertaining and useful book The Color of Style. Zyla, an Emmy award-winning stylist, outlines in the book his unique theory of “style DNA”. I warn you, it may sound a bit off-the-wall at first. For example, Zyla has you determine your version of “black” by looking at the color of the ring around your iris. Your version of blue is the color of the darkest vein in your wrist. My versions of these colors turn out to be chocolate brown (black) and deep teal (blue). The process is time-consuming and seems a little weird, but, for me, it was really fun and now I feel a new confidence about my personal color choices that I didn’t before. If you’re looking for your true colors, I can’t recommend Zyla’s book highly enough.

Finally, no musing on color would be complete without mentioning a true classic treatment on the subject. Who could forget the saga of Hush and Brush as they attempt to create green and wind up making every other color but that one? I’m speaking, of course, of Margaret Wise Brown’s beloved story The Color Kittens.

What colors make you feel good? Do you think that color can influence mood?

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