Let me begin with apologies to the band Chicago for my headline. I just couldn’t help it.
Several days ago, I started writing this column about the importance of color in our lives. It started with how delighted my husband the artist and I were when we visited Jacksonville Beach, Fla., recently – mostly because of the seemingly uninhibited use of colors on the homes and storefronts.
I wrote about the fun we had with friends in the old beach town, wandering along the “strip,” taking in the character of the seaside paradise. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the colorful facades.
At every turn, we were engaged by the brilliance of bright blues, mustard yellows, art deco greens with black trim, screaming reds and daring pinks and purples.
Many of the buildings were older, and some run down, but age didn’t matter. The place was filled with wild color. This wasn’t a rainbow; it was the entire color wheel and then some.
On our way out of town, we drove down side streets, looking for and taking photos of colorful houses and businesses.
When we got home, I looked through my photos and was impressed again by the palette of colors we had seen. I immediately went to my box of markers and matched pen colors to the photos. I decided I must use these in a coloring page to help remember our trip!
Fast forward a week or two, when someone sent me a black and white photo to be considered for use in the newspaper. The people in the picture looked almost sad. Their faces had very little dimension. There was no energy.
I asked for a color photo, and when I saw it, the people seemed to come alive on my screen. The color had made a huge difference.
The same week, I found my cloth swatches from when I had my “colors done” back in the 1970s . Women could find out which colors suited us best by having an expert determine our “season,” which dictated which shades and hues made us look better. (I’m a summer.)
This combination of events made me think about how vital color is to our surroundings, our own little worlds and the big world around us.
Think about the colors you are seeing right now as spring bursts forth around us. The South boasts some of the most amazing and brilliant colors of azaleas anywhere. Daffodils came and went quickly, but weren’t they a gorgeous shade of yellow? The Eastern Red Bud tree sports an invigorating pop of purple along our roadways and landscapes.
And have you seen a sunset lately? A bluebird?
In our beautiful Lowcountry, we seem to rely on nature, which is a great source, for color choices. Yet many of our community guidelines, and perhaps our own inhibitions, restrict the colors of our houses and business facades.
Our trees and flowers, birds and skies provide a wide array of brilliance. Why don’t we use these colors of nature when we paint our houses, shops and restaurants? Why don’t more of us wear these colors more often?
Color can make such a difference in an environment, in our mood, our perspective, as interior decorators and even psychologists continue to tell us.
Maybe we should listen.