What is color? Color is something personal.
Color is light and there are objective color principles (‘colorimetry’ is the science of color) but color is based on light’s individual perception, which is then subject to one’s own interpretation.
Perception and interpretation are based on many factors and all these factors vary, even if slightly, from person to person: surrounding environment and external influences; body features of the eyes and brain; social and cultural formation.
While on a bigger scale the significance of a color can vastly change across different cultures, history and geographical locations, the interpretation of that color ultimately depends on the single person, because all the factors have to be combined, along with the specific reception of light, to the person’s preferences, wishes, emotions, activities, and mood.
The result is a unique combination that will never repeat. It changes from moment to moment. It can be very similar, but never the same again.
Since perception and interpretation are subjective and unique, everyone will experience color in a personal way.
The color white, for example, is generally identified in North American Natives’ symbolism with winter and death, while it represents purity, or a wedding, in Western countries.
To me, it might convey lack of focus, but also tranquility.
The color yellow has complete different meanings, too, based on geography or history. The yellow Star of David was used to identify Jews from the Middle Ages on. It’s the color of caution in the West, royalty in China. It is both the color of autumn and spring, two opposite seasons.
To me, yellow might convey mystery, and it attracts my attention.
It is fair to say that it is probable that different people have the same, or very similar, response to a specific set of factors and therefore the same or similar rational and emotional response to a color.
I have a pleasant response to this flower from my mother’s vegetable garden, and I am attached to it because it represents a specific pleasant moment in my life. I am ready to bet on that, although somebody else might not be interested in gardening, they wouldn’t have a negative response to this sight. They wouldn’t think it’s ugly.
Orange is a secondary color. It is the color of religion for both Protestantism and Buddhism, it is linked to the earth in Latin America.
A deep orange gives me the sense of power and solidity, but what about to another person? What if I see it on a flower while walking around, or on a dress?
Since color is personal and everybody experiences color in their own way, I wonder what would people say after seeing this batch of peppers.
I find this composition simple yet interesting, an irregular natural pattern. But it doesn’t make me hungry. Maybe it does to somebody else? Or it would if they were hungry in the very moment they see this photo?
The varieties of colors are countless, so what about the response to colors that normally don’t come to mind? What about the color of rust? Or charcoal black?
What does the brown from a hand-made door handle in a highly historical building convey?
I am particularly intrigued by such a detail and somewhat intense color, but it is my personal response.
Blue can be the color of depression in the Western world, of immortality in China, of defeat for the Cherokees.
Science shows how blue (and green) are generally the most calming colors for the human brain. No wonder the natural world is flooded (literally) with those two.
Blue is a happy color for me, because I love water and swimming and I have many good memories linked to this color and its different hues.
Black is associated with darkness, danger. But what about a summer starry night? What about the black suit of a handsome date?
The color black brings joy to my face because two of my pets were black: Kyro, one of my father’s dogs, and my beloved cat Melissa.
As long as there have been humans and, or, society, there has been attention to color.
Long ago, in Ancient Egypt, records show of color being used for cure, while their color palette revolved around six main color groups.
Phoenicians at first traded mostly with Greeks and among the valuable goods there was the Tyrian purple (porpora) dye, coming from a mollusk. The name Phoenicians comes from the ancient Greek word for ‘purple’.
Colors are an important element in Feng Shui.
Color in art and the art of coloring can define some of the highest artistic expressions. The artist is the choreographer in his dance of colors.
I think Nature is the greatest artist, but humans can reach some astounding results with their sensitivity and skills.
Color connects to my inner self, spurs my emotions, makes me start a conversation.
Color brings memories back to me, creates new ones, and pins a scene from one of my travels down.
Color brings feelings back from a past kiss, grows love for my partner, and creates feelings from the expectation of a future hug.
Color is a smile.
Article first published on Sonderers Magazine.