Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Can color make you happy?

Photo by Liz Cezat, Utah.

How important is color in your life? If you live in a world of beige or black & white, you might not notice how much vibrant colors or a subtle hue can stimulate your senses: not only your eyes, but also your imagination. People living in a beige world may not be fully cognizant of their surroundings while those who live in a black & white world may view the landscape simply as a backdrop to the business of life.
For the left-brain readers, I will correlate these colors to my PMS book. In this reference, PMS does not refer to Pre Menstrual Syndrome, rather it’s a book of color swatches with numbers known as the Pantone® Color Formula Guide. It is an indispensible tool for graphic designers and art directors.
Today, when I stepped out of the shower, I reached for my towel. It was poppy-pink (PMS 1787). Not the usual beige. I felt uplifted with this new color. Then, I realized that poppy-pink is such a cheerful color, how can you not be happy when you see it?
Yesterday, while watering the flowers in my garden, I noticed that the marigolds were not just yellow, some were golden yellow (PMS 116) yet others were a vibrant orange (PMS 21) and others were burnt red (PMS 186) – all stemming from the same stalk. These intense colors made me appreciate the true beauty of a marigold.
While planting in a friend’s cottage garden the other week, my boyfriend instructed me to put a pot of geraniums into a bed of deep green groundcover. I asked, “Why? It’s all green there.” He replied, “It could use a pop of color.” He was absolutely right. That flash of red was the perfect foil to a mass of green leaves.
When creating materials for print (newsletters, annual reports) or the web (websites, e-newsletters), my graphic designers always play off colors. If someone is wearing green in a photo, they create a green element elsewhere on the page or use a complementary color – such as red. I appreciate color as an art form. I see how it stands out, makes you take notice and might even change your perspective.
Picture this: You're walking in the rain on a city street in the bad part of town and you've sunk into a dark mood. Then you see a yellow car. It's the brightest spot on the dreary, rain-soaked street. All of a sudden you think of the sun and you involuntarily smile. That spot of color makes a connection that lifts your mood.
Just for a day, observe the colors that strike you. How does color affect your mood? I don't think it's a stretch to say that color connects us to the world and has some sway in increasing our happiness.