» The Beauty of Color

July 24, 2017

We have been talking a lot about colors this summer, largely prompted by these color cards by Eeboo that my daughter Maggie got for Christmas (from Santa!). My daughters are five and eight, and I love to hear their different opinions about colors and how they are used, and what they should be named and which are their favorites.  I was surprised to find just how much they have to say on the matter. So much in fact, that sometimes they like to ask visitors to play as well.

The cards come with several suggestions for color discussions. One of our favorites is to simply pick your favorite color and read a little bit about it on the back of the card.  For example, Jade – one of my daughter Elizabeth’s favorites, is named for the gemstone Jade. The term jade was “first used by the Spanish in 1569 and its first recorded use in English as a color name was in 1892. ”

She also likes Aubergine.  I’m not entirely sure if that’s because she likes the color or just saying the word ‘aubergine’ but either way I think it’s pretty cute. I have had a lot of  fun observing the girls playing this game. Depending on the day, their favorite colors change and they have arguments about which colors are better.  I’m not sure about their criteria here but they both get pretty adamant.

We also like to group the colors into different families.  Some of the colors end up in different places depending on who is with us at the time.  This past evening, we had a very intense (and lively!) discussion about scarlet and vermillion and whether they belonged with the reds or the oranges.

My sister Katherine was with us and the girls noticed right away that her opinions differed from theirs on this matter.  They were strongly in the red camp, she was in the orange. She also put the taupe card in with the violet hues…

Another exercise we like to do involves walking around the house and finding objects that match the colors on some of the cards. Maggie tried to match up our flower pots on the front porch.

I had her name the colors of the flowers first, and then pull the cards she thought would accurately portray each flower’s color. At first she said the above flowers were pink, but changed her mind after pulling the cards that matched. Apricot she thought, however, was a bit of a stretch for these flowers and this color card because “apricots are usually more orange than that” in her words. She is quite the color critic.

We decided these pansies were between Amber and Rust.

There was not a green that satisfied us as a match for the licorice plant although Citron came close. And we couldn’t agree on a match for the English Ivy leaves but we noted that the some of the stems had an olive cast to them.

The petunias were decidedly Crimson.  Doesn’t that sound so much more romantic than just plain ‘red’??

I think one of the benefits of doing this (for adults and children alike) is to sharpen your observation of colors. Several times this week after playing we noted one of the colors we had been talking about around the house. We have also been noticing subtle color differences in objects that we look at every day or colors we haven’t noticed (like the olive colors of the ivy stems). We tend to talk about color in general terms.  Something may be red or green.  Or even bright red or lime green.  I rarely hear someone describing a color in depth or using words like vermillion and aubergine. Now that does not necessarily mean I am going to start calling colors by these names….but we as humans can distinguish between so many different shades of color. I think its useful as a creative person to be able to put a name to at least some of them!

Besides, it feels kind of luxurious to sit around and talk about color!

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