Spring has definitely sprung down here in Louisiana! New leaves of "spring green" are sprouting everywhere. The landscape is absolutely dazzling with a riot of bright, colorful blooms: Azaleas in pink, fuchsia, lipstick red & white, lavender wisteria, climbing roses in shades of pinks and yellow, brilliant white dogwoods. . .
Color is magic. Nearly every color at one time or in one culture or another has had spiritual connotations. It's obvious from the pivotal role that color has played in folklore and religious ceremonies over many centuries, as well as its numerous everyday associations, that color operates on many levels. It has a major impact on all of our lives. Color = Cheer. At the very least, it expresses our creativity and joie de vivre.
The colors of childhood places, such as gardens and meadows, are impressions that often stay with us forever. However, sometimes nature close at hand is just too familiar to stimulate the imagination, which is why travel can be so reviving. The experience of seeing new landscapes under different conditions of light can change our whole perception of color. And after a time away, we often see the colors in our own landscapes with fresh eyes. Seasonal change also provides much of the same refreshing contrast.
Color always begins with nature and Spring is the time to experiment with a glorious palette when planting your gardens. Every Spring, my daughter and I plant Zinnia seeds in our garden so that our home will be filled with living color all Summer long. Just a few packets of seeds planted directly into the ground, provides months of bouquets with an incredible variety of colors. They call them "cut and come again" because the more you cut them, the more they come back!
Flowers not only grace our gardens and our homes, but have always played an important part in our celebrations and religious ceremonies. Author Meredith Young-Sowers in her best-selling book, Angelic Messenger Cards, says that "flowers are the angelic messengers in our lives, helping us understand that we have something unique to contribute to life even if we're not yet sure exactly what that is. The angels guide us through their flower messengers to become more sensitive and accepting of the innate creativity and profound wisdom that we hold within us." I highly recommend this book which comes with a deck of 48 cards, each with a beautiful photograph of a flower representing different aspects of life, such as love, passion, compassion, trust, blessing, joy, potential, forgiveness, vulnerability, etc. It has been an important part of my morning ritual for over 7 years. I spread the cards out face down, select one (with the help of my angels?) and then read the corresponding 2-3 page chapter which never fails to be exactly what I need to hear at precisely that point in time. It is absolutely amazing! Angelic Messenger Cards are available through The Stillpoint Institute's website: www.stillpoint.org or by phone: (800) 847-4014.
For centuries, flower "essences" have been used by many people to help restore their inner balance and emotional harmony. Intuitive Bea Wragee has been creating flower essences for adults, children, animals and their homes for the past 17 years that work wonders! She is especially well-known for her work in creating remedies for "Indigo Children" which are highly recommended by the authors of the books on Indigo Children (The Indigo Children & An Indigo Celebration by Jan Tober and Lee Carroll). In addition to remedies like "Travel Easy" designed for those who travel frequently and "Courage" which transforms fears and helps instill courage, she also makes "Custom Flower Essences" by intuitively knowing what is needed to comfort and create harmony for that specific person, animal or home. Her prices average around $20 per essence. Bea can be contacted via email: email@example.com or by phone: (858) 484-3513.
Imagine the powerful combination of using both flowers (& their essences) with color to create healing, harmonious environments. Despite the individual nature of our reactions to color, it is important to look at how color works before considering ways of using it successfully in our surroundings. Few people are born with an instinctive sense of color, but like any other skill, it can be learned. No matter how dormant or under-used, your color sense can be brought back to life and encouraged to blossom.
The first step starts with "observation". One way to become acquainted with color is to create a scrapbook of favorite color swatches, scraps of fabric, ribbon, postcards, photographs from magazines--anything that inspires you. Many people will find that they are naturally attracted to a certain "family" of colors--rich earth tones, or a variety of pastels, for example. Others are drawn to a particular shade for a time, until a new color takes their fancy.
The color spectrum is usually represented as six distinct bands of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. In a color wheel, the ends of the spectrum are brought around to join in a circle. At its most simplified, the color wheel consists of the three "primary" colors red, yellow and blue and the three "secondary" colors orange, green and violet. The color wheel shows very clearly true color relationships. Colors which sit opposite one another are contrasting or "complementary". Therefore, complementary pairs are: red & green, yellow & violet, blue & orange. Side by side, they appear to vibrate, a phenomenon which can be put to exciting use in decoration. "Tertiary" colors, such as turquoise, are the result of mixing equal parts of a primary and a secondary (i.e. blue with green).
From observing and appreciating colors in all their richness and diversity, it is a short step to the endlessly fascinating exploration of "color combinations". The electric mixtures, where colors "sing" as mentioned above, or the compatible families, where each color supports the others, all have an important role to play in decoration. Knowing which colors fall into a family that harmonizes naturally, which "vibrate", and why some combinations don't work at all can be of enormous assistance and help to create a vibrant, exciting and original color scheme. Very fine adjustments can make the difference. Colors that work in harmony together, such as lighter or darker shades of the same color, are naturally comfortable to the eye, while more exciting and dynamic combinations make use of a pair of complementary but "opposite" colors, such as orange and blue. By using a fraction of a complementary color as a sharp accent, you can set up more vibrant effects, perhaps offset by an intermediary shade. Successful color combinations often depend on getting the proportions right. A touch of contrasting color is lively and refreshing: too much can be uncomfortable if blocks of vibrating color are competing for attention.
As the world shrinks, our color horizons broaden. The pulsating electric combinations of Central and South America or the singing ice cream colors of the Caribbean are used in sharp contrasts to brighten and enliven houses inside and out. Painted shutters, doors, verandahs, balconies and window frames clash happily with walls in a joyous use of color for its own sake. When resources are limited and luxuries are few and far between, the sheer richness of color delights the spirit.
One of my favorite ways to appreciate various color combinations is by observing the ones used in fabrics. Being a decorator, I have the luxury of having over 800 fabric samples which contains numerous floral prints. Several of these fabrics inspired some of the new colors we recently created in our line of Full Spectrum Paints. We have also created "White Opal" which is a bright white containing 7 different pigments and "Classic Cream", an ivory with the same number of pigments. "Rainbow Fog", is another new chameleon-like color.
Spring is not just a time for planting, it's also the time to freshen up our interior spaces as well. Traditionally, in preparation for Summer, heavy rugs were rolled up and lighter slipcovers were put on all of the upholstered furniture. Slipcovers have made quite a comeback.
If you live in the city and don't have a bit of earth to plant; nothing brings Mother Nature indoors like floral prints on furnishings and nature's colors on walls and ceilings. All color schemes have to start somewhere. When helping a client select a color scheme, I always ask them to describe their favorite place in nature. For some, it's the beach (blues and tans). For some, it's the greens and browns of the woods. From there, we consider the host of factors involved: space, proportion, light and texture.
One persistent decorating convention says that small rooms, particularly small dark rooms, should be decorated in light colors to open them up and make them less confining. On the contrary, small rooms can take quite bright colors which give them a jewel-like brilliance which compensates for the lack of space. In areas where natural light levels are low, strong color intensifies and becomes richer. Warm colors, reds, yellows and oranges are "advancing" and it is this characteristic that makes rooms painted in warm shades seem welcoming and intimate. Foyers, halls, stairs, and connecting areas are places people use frequently, but for limited periods of time, so bright color used here can be especially uplifting. The glimpse of an intensely colored hall through an open doorway is inviting, creating a core of color which draws the whole house together.
The other side of this approach is that in rooms which enjoy a great deal of natural light, light colors emphasize the airy, spacious atmosphere. Pastels or subtly differentiated neutrals can be very reviving in these spaces.
Another factor to consider when choosing color is texture. Matte surfaces, such as flat paint and unglazed fabrics, absorb light and look lighter in color than shiny surfaces, such as polished marble and glazed chintz, which reflect light.
Light plays perhaps the most important role, since without light, there would be no color. Always use natural light whenever possible and a variety of artificial lighting (i.e. table & floor lamps, wall sconces, chandeliers, up lights and accent lighting). Stay away from fluorescents as unlike natural light, they produce no shadows which cause eyestrain. I also try to avoid recessed ceiling cans as they shoot light downward creating shadows that can actually make people look "ghoulish"!
Mixing all colors in the spectrum produces white light. Each color in our line of Full Spectrum Paints contains all of the colors in the spectrum which makes each color far more luminous than regular paint colors. Because of this quality, the colors are also more color reflective and therefore constantly changing. Our new Full Spectrum Paints brochure not only explains this process further, but also has been recently rewritten to include which emotions and activities are enhanced by each paint color. For further information, visit our link below:
Our Living Well Newsletter comes out seasonally. To be added to our mailing list, email us:
Please E-Mail, Or call Toll Free: (877) 877-7628