International Colour Day, 2014

Today is International Colour Day – nicely chosen to coincide with the Equinox.  Around this date, “night and day are equally long which symbolically juxtaposing the complementary nature of dark and light, of shadow and illumination, that are expressed in all human cultures“, Colour Group GB

pencil shards

To celebrate, here are some of my photos where I think colour speaks for itself. I know, I know, white isn’t a colour but I view it as utterly magnanimous because instead of absorbing or snatching wavelengths, it reflects and shares them straight back again thus becoming the most pure, peaceful and generous ‘colour’ in my mind…

White Peace

White Peace

Beautiful, Elegant Green

Beautiful, Elegant Green

Warning, Agressive Red

Warning, Agressive Red

Endlessly Creative Blue

Endlessly Creative Blue

Ray of Yellow Hope

Ray of Yellow Hope

For more colour inspiration have a look at the  Dulux Colour Awards 2014 which is run in partnership with The Guardian – definitely worth a look.

What colour are you feeling like today and how will you celebrate today, March 21st 2014, International Colour Day? 

Finding Focus in the Botanic Gardens

You know the feeling when you sit down to work  with task list in front of you and for some reason or other you just can’t find your groove? It happens to us all once in a while, doesn’t it?

I have to admit when it happens to me, there is little point in even trying. I firmly believe it’s our bodies craving fresh air, natural foliage (looking at green definitely works), basically anything other than looking at a computer screen. Luckily I am self employed and can take action when that stale feeling creeps in.

You only need to look at a pristine, vibrant green leaf to feel energised and engaged with the world. And for that reason, one of the first places I seek out whether at home or while travelling, is the local botanical garden.

We are exceptionally lucky here in Edinburgh as I’ve mentioned before in Strength and Form to have The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. But there are others for you to seek out and visit, hundreds of them in fact, sometimes in the most obscure places. But beware, many of our fabulous gardens are struggling for funding which is terrifying considering they offer so much to such a broad range of recreational and educational purposes.
I was in St.Andrews last week (an easy one hours drive or train journey from Edinburgh), and was fortunate to be taken to St.Andrews Botanic Gardens – an absolute haven of native and exotic plants. I wasn’t really looking at the plants from a botanical angle but simply looking at their colour and form. Endless fun and a focused mind. Result.
Do you have a local botanic garden that you can tell us about?

How do you find your focus on fuzzy days?

Relish the Red

Ok, so my posts are always colour related and almost always connected with interiors but for today only, I am a food blog……only because I was inspired by the colour red.

Very often I will pick up and buy food because I am attracted either by the colour or by the packaging, see net study and clementine wrapper post. Well this week how could I walk past these ruby red jewels?

After reading about the extraordinary health benefits from eating cranberries, I set about making a raw relish. I think it would be a lovely fresh twist on the normal sugar laden cranberry sauce we eat at Christmas time.

I simply piled the following ingredients in a food processor and pulsed for about a minute;

2 cups of fresh cranberries, half an onion, a handful of fresh flat- leaf parsley, juice of one orange, a tablespoon of black currant & rosemary vinegar (I bought  Womersley vinegar because I love the artwork on the label and their vinegars are sublime), 4 fat medjool dates, 2 tablespoons of pomegranate syrup (I used Al-Rabih, Melasse de grenades). That’s it.

Back to normal with my next post – I shall leave food and health blogging to the experts – Kellie’s recipes on Food to Glow are always delicious and her knowledge of what’s good for you is amazing. But meanwhile, if you make this, I’m sure you will enjoy the vibrant green parsley stalks alongside the ruby red cranberries…..well I did.

The Hues of Decay

For a paint consultant to love peeling, flaky, rusty decayed surfaces is a bit of an anomaly but I do confess I am totally drawn to such weathered features. I have tried to figure out why this should be so, surely I should be seeking out squeaky clean well maintained pristine examples of paint but no, it’s definitely the ones “in need of attention” that catch my eye.

Of course the reason I and so many others are attracted to these surfaces is because they have created their own unique colour palettes – salt, oxygen, water, pollutants, resins all acting together in an open air chemistry lab to produce a vast selection of colours that we paint consultants can match and use in projects – but generally replicate on smooth and perfect surfaces……

It’s high time I thanked my subscribers for reading and commenting on my blog – you’ve no idea how much I appreciate it. I would also like to point out that I got quite a shock yesterday when I saw my blog on a pc. I work on a mac so the colours I am looking at are much lighter and brighter than the colours on a pc. This is rather an issue as most of the time as you know, I write about colour. It would be interesting to know how many of you are pc users. If it’s a lot, I will try to lighten up my images, just let me know. I also hope you don’t find my way of spelling colour too irritating –  I know most of my readers are American and Canadian, again just let me know!

Decorating with Yellow

I have “empty room syndrome” today. I get it whenever I clear a room of furniture. The room didn’t look particularly scruffy when it was “dressed” but now it’s empty it really is asking for a new coat of paint. Well this is good news because I can choose a new paint colour.

I am trying to recreate the sensation I felt when I saw Wolfgang Laib ‘s  hazel nut pollen art installation last year. I would defy anyone to look at this work and not feel gloriously happy, rooted to the spot and completely mesmerised.  The colour of the pollen simply could not be improved.

Wolfgang Laib's Hazel Nut Pollen

As it’s a highly saturated colour I will only be using it in a small area (plus yellow “grows” and intensifies when on a wall).

I am going to mix my own yellow – the reason I am doing this is because it’s a pretty tricky colour to handle. It is all too easy to get greenish undertones in yellow paint because if you try to darken yellow by adding black, instead of turning a darker more intense hue, it actually turns green, very easily and quickly. Plus, you may not see the green under tones until you have painted it all over your walls…..

yellow + black = olive

If you buy ready mixed paint, ask the manufacturer if there is any black in the formula and if there is avoid it unless you want a greenish tinge.

Another thing to bear in mind is that yellow has a high LRV (light reflective value) so it bounces back most of what hits it. It is therefore greatly influenced by surrounding colours – even from outside. If you have leafy green trees outside your window, the yellow will take on a greenish tone. If you live opposite a red brick building, the yellow will look very golden. Lots to consider but get it right and you’ll not be disappointed.

Strength and Form

When I have a lot to think about I like to surround myself in greenery and here in Edinburgh we are immensely lucky to have the Royal Botanic Gardens on our doorstep. Today was one of those days so I spent some time in the glass houses looking at the magnificent plants. I can’t recommend this “therapy” more strongly – just look at the strength and form of these plants, they are inspiring in so many ways.

Colour Galore!

I don’t know if it’s the rise in temperature today (well slight rise, in other words, no ice around) but I seem to be drawn to a multitude of colours today. Looking at vintage toys, traditional Japanese costumes and Charley Harper illustrations,  I guess it’s hardly surprising I am getting a sensory overload.

However, if you do find you are “coloured out”, the best cure is to take yourself somewhere green, preferably around natural foliage, a botanic garden for instance. It really does work and you can return to your colour selection with a far less frenetic state of mind ready to create a perfect palette…..but first, one more look at Dreams in Colour by David Fonseca.

All The World is Green

As the snow pulls back to reveal vibrant green grass it is easy to see why in so many cultures green has been a symbol of balance, peace and ecology.

Green has one of the shortest wavelengths in the spectrum making it the least visually demanding colours for our brains to interpret. This is why designers often use it in areas of relaxation. It is no coincidence that the room actors rest in is called “The Green Room”.

However, a little word of warning. If you are painting your walls choose your shade of green carefully as some stronger greens can cast a green hue on your skin making you look rather unwell – not the desired effect!

Listening to Tom Waits , while feasting my eyes on some natural foliage the regenerative properties of green are working for me…happy Monday!