Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Color of Feelings

by Jo Robertson

Three year old Annie was whining the other day.

“What’s wrong, baby,” says her mother, seriously refraining from any eye rolling.

“Well,” Annie says, “I just have a bad feeling that someone’s going to eat me.”

“Don’t you hate that feeling?” her wise mom answers.

The color of fear – is it black, blue, red?

I have a dear friend whose father died young, leaving her mother with six children, the oldest of whom was twelve. She and her husband had been long-time friends with a couple who also had six children, all nearly the same ages.

The mother of this family also died. As time passed and with much soul-searching, the man and my friend’s mother decided to marry, blending their family of twelve children. Wow! That’s courage! They eventually had a thirteenth child who blended the two families.

The new father was a psychologist whose favorite story was about the child who kept doing all his drawings at school in black. Everything black, gloomy, dark. He was concerned about the child until she explained that when she got to the table, all the crayons were gone and black was the only color left.

Sometimes black is just a color.

We talk about being “blue.”

Or being so mad we see “red.”

Daffodils are yellow and such a friendly color that we think of sunshine and the outdoors.

Brides wear white, sometimes.

So what about you? What’s your favorite color? Why?
What colors elict what emotions in you? Is green really soothing and why so many institutional places have walls of green? Is blue cool and detached? Is black or dark brown dangerous?

My favorite color is purple and as I grow older I love more and more the poem about wearing purple when I grow older. It’s such a bold color.


Gillian Layne said...

Orange. I love orange. It's happy and bold and cheerful, and besides, oranges taste great and smell amazing. :)

I seriously love "Sometimes black is just a color."

Nancy said...

Gillian, congrats on grabbing the rooster!

Jo, my favorite color used to be magenta--chosen from the Crayola box. Then it was Kelly green, then aquamarine, and then red.

Maybe I'm fickle. :-)

My current favorite color is turquoise blue--deep turquoise, close to teal, probably.

But that's subject to change.

jo robertson said...

LOL, Gillian, I love black personally, probably because it takes a few much-needed-to-lose pounds off my figure. But it's also necessary in our society. It seems to be somber, serious.

I love orange too! I always smell oranges (a scent I adore) when I think of that color.

jo robertson said...

BTW, Bandita Buddies, we had an emergency in the Lair. Sorry that the post is so late.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Gillian, I LOVE orange. And for a while, you couldn't get anything in orange. I've got a really pretty orange vase that I bought at the NG in Washington. Just love it - it's that kinda terracotta orange, gorgeous colour.

Oh, by the way, perhaps your favourite colour today should be gold for the rooster! We had a party in the lair last night. Everybody slept in!

My favourite colour is blue. In fact, one day I went to my wardrobe and suddenly realised EVERYTHING was blue.

Lovely post, Jo! Here, have some aspirin. They're white - perhaps your favourite colour today!

limecello said...

My favorite color is blue. But growing up I liked purple. Didn't like pink until college, actually- but baby pink still.
I do like green grass etc- it is soothing - apparently the most soothing color for the human eye? Read a study about it ages ago...
And cute/sweet/sad about the little kid stuck with the black crayon. But exactly - sometimes it just is what it is.

limecello said...

Congrats on the GR, Gillian :D

jo robertson said...

Wow, Nancy, magenta! That's some wild color! I like bold, dark colors too, probably because pastels look so bad on me.

One bedroom wall is painted in that beautiful brick red that I love.

So you're saying you're a color slut? Tee hee.

jo robertson said...

Thanks for the aspirins, Anna! I love that terra-cotta orange color too. Not the bright orange that many inmates in California jails wear. Shudder!

Oh, Gillian, forgot to say congrats on getting the rooster. See you don't have to be an early visitor to get him. He has quite a hangover, btw, from the wild Lair party that went on last night.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey JoMama, I LURVE purple too!

I'm also very partial to blue in almost any shade, esp. truquoise which is my birthstone. ;-) But my favorite color to wear is red. It is a power color after all, and pastels tend to make me fade away so I need bright and bold.

I never cared for pink, probably because my mother used to make all our clothes and she always dressed my sister in blue (she was a blonde) and me in pink. BLECK! Marked for life. LOL!

And what an adorable little Raggedy Ann in your post, Jo!


jo robertson said...

Hi, Limecello! We've got a lot of faves for blue today. I was never a blue person; it seemed too washed out for me. I was a dark brunette before I became, uh, gray and white LOL, and now the color has lots of red highlights in it.

With very dark hair and pale skin, you have to be wary of some colors.

jo robertson said...

Speaking of pink, I DO love the new combo of pink and brown for baby girls. It's so much more fun than the old pale pink.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Aunty Cindy! I know you've been tres sick, but thanks for pointing out that the blog was "under the weather" today.

You do look awfully good in both purples and reds with all your lovely gray hair.

Emmanuelle said...

My favorite color is RED. My maidden name is Rosso which means red in italian. I don't know if it's part of the reason I love this colour so much.
Anyway, for me red is life, love, happyness. It only evoques good things for me.

Joan said...

Purple. Blue....not just blue, but JEWEL tone blue, teal, pink and deeper shades of green ala Ireland.

I do not do orange. I can do yellow in limited amounts.

And taupes in a variety of shades.

I like to reach out and TOUCH colors. Does that make sense?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...


My hair is SILVER! LOL!

And I used to have the same dark hair pale skin problem too. If I wore yellow or orange I looked like I had jaundice! And beige was just plain BORING! Now Halle Berry can make beige look FANTASTIC!

still a bit 'green' and crawling back into bed...

Cassondra said...

Hi JOmama!

My whole wardrobe, just about, is black, and yes, sometimes black is just a color. I like black not because of anything it signifies, but because in clothing it's SO easy to put black stuff together with no worries, and black goes with everything. When I travel, I just thow a bunch of black stuff into a suitcase. No angsting over outfits. It all works! It's also classy and elegant and can go anywhere. Well, anywhere except a wedding, though I have known some brides to do their weddings in black and white and those weddings were GORGEOUS!

I also love purple though, and deep, blood red. Cool jewel tones. No orange for me, though it is beautiful. I never want to wear it. Ilook horrid in orange or other warm tones like it.

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Jo! Lovely post today!

I'm a pink girl. Bright, pretty pink. I always feel good when I wear pink. Not from head to toe (I mean, seriously *g*) but a pink sweater or a pink scarf, pink shoes, things like that. It's so cheery.

Congrats, Gillian!! I like orange, too! And I hope you like GOLD, as in roosters. :-)

heidi ruby miller said...


The title of your post grabbed me right away because in my current novel one of the characters has grapheme or color synethesia, only instead of perceiving numbers or days of the week as different colors, she sees other people's emotions as colors.

I'm writing at Panera right now about it when I checked my blog roll to see your post on Romance Bandits. What a coincidence!


Anna Campbell said...

Jo, I think my fondness for orange came from a dress my mum had in her salad days in the mid-50s. It was an Audry-Hepburn style dress striped in a really pretty orange and white and it had the tight waist and the big skirt of the New Look. Just gorgeous - I used it for dress ups when I was a kid and I always felt like a princess when I wore it. She had some beautiful clothes from the 50s and early 60s - such an elegant era!

Heidi, books sounds interesting!

Nancy said...

Y'know, Jo, I might be a "color slut." The term has a certain appeal. :-)

Nancy said...

Hi, Anna--

I like earth tones, but I generally can't wear them, which might be why I gravitate more toward bright jewel tones.

Do all your blues match? Or coordinate?

Nancy said...

Cassondra, I have a distinct memory of seeing you in red. In fact, I'm not sure you were wearing any black at that moment . . . *g*

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, these days I've branched out a bit. This was the early 80s when blue was definitely the in colour. What got me was that I hadn't deliberately decided to buy blue, I just did. I think that's when you know you've got a favourite colour!

Nancy said...

Emmanuelle, I still love red, even though it isn't my favorite. And there's so much red around this time of year!

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats on the GR, Gillian! He likes orange too and GOLD and GREEN so keep your hand on your wallet and your car keys!

My favorite color is purple -any shade, any hue - just purple. When it comes to clothing my second favorite color is black. Very slimming and it matches most of my cameos. In black I look for textures to make the difference. Every type of fabric produces a different shade or nuance of black. Black silk is different from black velvet or black cotton.

I don't care for white walls in my house so I am in the process of painting them all ivory which is much more soothing and a bit more Old Worlde. I love dark brocaded colors against the ivory walls.

Can't stand khaki and navy, but I have a feeling that is a result of having to wear them to work at Wal-Mart. Once I don't have to work there I'll feel much better about those two colors!

Barbara Monajem said...

Red, red, always red. Since childhood it's been my favorite color, and I expect it always will be. I think it's psychological -- I have a chronic and often inconvenient need for stimulation, for positive input. I almost always prefer vivid colors, although bright pink is often irritating. I prefer gentler colors only when I need soothing. Or when I'm sick.

Second favorite, judging by my clothing, is black. They say it's a cool color, but I find black to be beautifully warm and cozy.

Pissenlit said...

Congrats Gillian!

Black. Blackblackblack. :) I'm also partial to some blues, purples and greens(oooh, sounds bruise-y). And sometimes red when paired with black or grey...or sometimes brown). I also like greys a lot. Can't stand to wear yellow-ish colours though. I just don't think it goes with my skin tone.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

My favorite color is blue, I find it a soothing color, if I need to feel empowered though I wear red. Don't ask me why, I don't know, I just know if I am wearing red I am more confident.....LOL.

Nancy said...

Anna, I agree that buying a color consistently and without thought definitely shows a preference.

I have a lot more black separates than I used to. They match up with bright tops well.

And the bracelet Joan covets. *g*

I love my red suit, though, too.

Nancy said...

Dianna wrote: I just know if I am wearing red I am more confident

I'm told red is a "power" color, Dianna.

Christine Wells said...

Lovely post, Jo. It makes me think of Breakfast at Tiffany's and the "mean reds". And I love the "black is just a colour" quote, too. Red used to be my favourite colour but now I like them all in different circumstances. For instance, beige gets a bad rap, but there's something classic about a tall gorgeous blonde woman wearing beige. I love wearing black. I love red because it cheers me up. White and blond wood and deep blue are for beach houses and watermelon pink is for a bikini on tanned young skin. Orange is a colour I could never abide until I saw how fantastic it looked on my hazel-eyed son. And then there are all the lovely, subtle shades in between.

Congrats on the Golden One, Gillian!

Keira Soleore said...

Gillian, congrats on the chook. I, too, love orange, the color and the fruit.

Another color I like is yellow because the sun makes me very happy.

Here's a funny poem — I Black

When I born, I black.
When I grow up, I black.
When I go in sun, I black.
when I cold, I black.
When I scared, I black.
When I sick, I black.
And when I die, I still BLACK!

You White Folks....
When you born, you pink.
When you grow up, you white.
When you go in sun, you red.
When you cold, you blue.
When you scared, you yellow.
When you sick, you green.
When you bruised, you purple.
And when you die, you gray.

So who you callin' COLORED?

Keira Soleore said...

Fo, I would've guessed your favorite colors were navy blue and a deep red. That lipstick of yours should become branded by the Anna Campbell name.

Christine, I would've guessed your favorite color was a bright red. I have not forgotten your RWA SF wardrobe. It looks superb on you.

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, the poem gave me a giggle. I remember years and years ago, I worked with a lot of Aboriginal people and discovered that they could get suburnt. You can't see it, but they sure suffer the effects! Little white girl me had no idea! I LOVE deep red, especially in lipsticks. You picked that one right! But I find for a colour I want to live with all the time, blue wins out.

Virginia said...

I have always been a blue person! But I have found that yellow to me is cheerful, so I have gotten to where I like yellow but you don't many things in yellow!

Gillian Layne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy said...

Virginia, I like blue for walls, and I do wear a fair amount of blue. Yellow's wonderful, very cheerful, and I envy people who wear it well. Alas, but I'm not one of them.

jo robertson said...

Nancy, it's interesting that you commented on blue walls. When we moved into this house 26 years ago -- yikes! -- I foolishly allowed Dr. Big to choose the carpet for the brand new house. He chose a blue and it was a lovely one, at that, but do you know how hard blue is to decorate around? Hardest color, according to my decorator friends.

I still remember that blue carpet, probably because it had several large white spots on it where my eldest son tried to bleach his jeans in the bathtub. Drip, drip, drip. Oy!

jo robertson said...

Yes, Virigina, yellow is a very hard color to find in clothes. I tried to paint my bathroom yellow once and ended up painting it three times to get the color right. I just wanted a very light lemony color and ended up with an actual lemon!

I like blue too. It just seems very cool and frosty to me!

jo robertson said...

Keira, that's a hilarious poem. Gives new meaning to the phrase "person of color."

Anna and Christine look so good in that deep red lipstick. Me, just makes me look garish.

jo robertson said...

I've forgotten that "mean reds" quote from BAT, Christine. What's the scene?

Doesn't white reflect all the colors, and therefore, IS a color in spite of its appearance, while black reflects none of the colors?

jo robertson said...

Christine, beige DOES get a bad rap! But I love it combined with a black trim or accessories -- very chic!

jo robertson said...

Yay on loving red, Emmanuelle. You must look good in it. I love red to, but avoid clothing in red because it doesn't look good on me. But I love it splashed around the house, especially if it's a deep brick color.

Red is such a symbolic color, too, don't you think? Power, the source of life (blood) and death (blood).

jo robertson said...

Joan said, "I like to reach out and TOUCH colors. Does that make sense?"

Perfectly! Colors have texture. They're so evocative.

jo robertson said...

Aunty Cindy says, "*AHEM* SILVER, Jo-Mama! My hair is SILVER! LOL!"

Mea culpa, AC! I was searching for the right word. I KNEW it was silver, but had a senior-citizen moment.

And a gorgeous, to-die-for silver it is!

Nancy said...

Jo, it's interesting that blue is hard to decorate around. That actually has been our experience. We chose a blue we loved for our bedroom and then could not find any drapes, counterpanes, etc., in that shade. It was too bright, though I wouldn't describe it as a bright blue, just a light one. It wasn't not gray enough or washed out enough or dark enough to go with what was on the market.

OTOH, we chose a pale gray carpet--easy to decorate around but a huge mistake with two golden retrievers in residence.

jo robertson said...

Cassondra said, "My whole wardrobe, just about, is black"

Not surprised, de Ho. Black is very practical, can be dressed up or down, and (my BIG deal with it) is slimming!

I don't care what they say about grey or brown or whatever being the new black. There's nothing that can supplant black.

Even if it isn't a color :-D.

jo robertson said...

Kate said, "I'm a pink girl. Bright, pretty pink. I always feel good when I wear pink."

You even sound like a pink girl, Kate, so happy and cheerful!

jo robertson said...

Heidi wrote, "The title of your post grabbed me right away because in my current novel one of the characters has grapheme or color synethesia, only instead of perceiving numbers or days of the week as different colors, she sees other people's emotions as colors."

What an interesting trait for your heroine, Heidi. So, does she see the emotions as a sort of "aura"? If there's no emotion emoting, does she get a blank read? Tell us more. This sounds very intriguing.

jo robertson said...

Ah, Anna, you just mention Audrey Hepburn and I'm enthralled. Yes, such a lovely era. My mom's clothes came from the thirties and forties, interesting too.

jo robertson said...

Louisa said, "I don't care for white walls in my house so I am in the process of painting them all ivory which is much more soothing and a bit more Old Worlde. I love dark brocaded colors against the ivory walls."

That sounds gorgeous, Louisa; I love the contrast of the ivory with the textured dark colors too.

jo robertson said...

Barbara, you're in good company today. Lots of preferences for red. It's so rich and powerful!

jo robertson said...

Go, Pissenlit! Black is the new Black!!

jo robertson said...

Dianna, I agree. Blue is so soothing. Honestly, I think of a cool washcloth over my eyes when I have a headache when I think of blue :-D.

Lady_Graeye said...

My favorite color is sometimes blue, sometimes gray and sometimes yellow. Color seems to control my moods. That's why I painted my sunroom bright yellow.

Nancy said...

Lady Graeye, I'd love a yellow sunroom. It'd be so cheery.

Barbara Monajem said...

Nancy, I love your red suit, too!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

First of all, thanks to Jo for filling in for me today. It was my normal day to blog, and I'm at a board meeting and totally flaked out and forgot to put up a post. So, Jo, you rock!

As for colors, I love green and blue. I associated them with the beauty of the outdoors -- fresh green trees and grass in the spring and bright blue skies. It just makes me happy thinking about it.

limecello said...

Jo, I understand completely. I actually don't wear orange, yellow, or green. Didn't wear green or yellow for years. [Made me look like the undead twice over.]
But I still like the *color* green :D

jo robertson said...

Hi, Lady, I love the idea combining grays and blues, such cool and calming colors that seem to say, "Don't worry, I've got it."

jo robertson said...

Nancy wears her red power suit like nobody I've ever seen!

You're welcome, Trish! And thanks to everyone who popped in to comment today, even though the blog was so late getting posted.

Christine Wells said...

Jo, the BAT scene is when Holly says she doesn't get the blues, she gets the mean reds. Sigh. Love that movie!

Thanks for the compliment on the red dress/lipstick, Keira and Jo:) On the other hand, I can never really wear nude makeup or makeup that looks barely there. Even if I go brown it has to be a strong brown. Sometimes it would be nice to go neutral. Maybe that explains my fascination with beige. It's a colour I cannot wear.