Do any of you remember back in the ‘60s when it became very popular to analyze your hair, skin and eye color to determine which season you were, and therefore which colors you should wear in order to look your best? I don’t remember what the system or book was called, but I remember clearly how it changed the look of my closet forever.
As a youngster, my Mom thought brown and aqua were good colors for me. I loved pink, and would beg her to buy pink anything… sweaters, blouses, and socks for sure. She let me wear pink sometimes, but always in combination with brown slacks, brown skirts, brown coats. Brown for fall and winter; aqua for spring and summer… with as much pink as I could get her to buy. In home economics class (which I loathed, because I really wanted to take mechanical drawing, which wasn’t available to girls), I remember making a brown corduroy princess-style jumper. Although I was quite proud of myself as a seamstress, I never wanted to wear it.
From the seasons system, I finally understood why not. I am a winter. Brown is an autumn color; aqua is a spring color. Autumn and spring are the warm undertoned colors; whereas summer and winter colors are cooler and more saturated. No wonder I never liked how I looked! Gradually, I began to shift my wardrobe colors to reds, blues, purples, grays, and black. No more brown on this body! When I went away to college, my first purchase was a RED bedspread and BLACK pillow with WHITE polka dots. Whooopppeeeee! No more living spaces decorated in gold, avocado and brown for this kid… never again!!!!
Hello! I’m back to writing about color! This post is actually about YELLOW! I don’t remember yellow being one of the approved winter colors. I never considered buying anything yellow, possibly because it was too close to brown in my mind. And I never used a single yellow bead until three years into my beading career.
At that point I started working on a piece of bead embroidery, which has remained unfinished for more than 15 years. It was the start of my In Case of Fire bag.
It all started when I took a class about creativity. Suzanne Kjelland, the instructor, posed this question: “If there were a fire in your home, and all the people and pets had gotten out, and you had one last safe trip into the house, what would you bring out?” The more I thought about that question, the harder it was to decide. My sewing machine? The quilt I made for my bed? My beads? My childhood books? A painting by my brother? The question kept me awake far into the early morning hours. I kept thinking about precious little things people had given or made for me, such as a cassette of Winnie-the-Pooh stories read by my Dad, a broken guitar string from a friend’s concert, a picture from a camping trip, etc. I didn’t even know where to find some of the things.
Over the next few days I found all of these special mementos and put them in a box, ready for rescue in case of fire. I decided it would be nicer to keep them in a lovely beaded bag, and set about immediately to make one. Well! As I beaded, it was so much fun to think about friends and family and the precious memories inspired by their gifts, that I eventually decided to make a bag for EACH ITEM. That’s why I’m not yet finished with the In Case of Fire bag, which will eventually hold all of the items in their individual beaded bags. I keep adding more items and making more individual bags… so I still don’t know how large to make it.
My plan is to make the bag eventually, and appliqué the piece shown below, which I embroidered way back then, onto it.
This was the first time I’d ever used a yellow bead in anything. You can see what a tentative and sparing use it was. Yet, inspired by the fabric print on which I was beading (swatch shown below), I just had to do it.
And, I liked it! Yellow beads began creeping into my work… more of them and more often. Orange too. As Margie Deeb says in this month’s Muse (about the color yellow), “In its full saturation, this most luminous color radiates and dazzles. Exuberantly cheerful, yellow uplifts our spirits, helps us gather self-confidence, and stimulates our mind to focus and think more clearly (a yellow legal pad keeps you more alert than white paper, though it may affect you more like a caffeine buzz).”
This is certainly true of the yellow beads in my sculptural piece, Rosie, The Uncaged Hen.
Now, after recently completing the Penguin Pin, based on the color scheme of the Emperor Penguin, I’m even more interested to see what I can do with yellow beads. I’m thinking about a deeply violet wild flower that booms briefly in the spring around here. It has the most intensely saturated yellow stamen and lovely grayed-green foliage. I think it will be an awesome color scheme. To experiment with it, I’ll make a couple of beaded buttons featuring different hues and proportions of yellow beads.
A friend once gave me a copy of part of a Doctoral Thesis entitled Universal Psychological Color Associations. According to this study, yellow is the favorite color of children, and the least favorite of adults. Not surprisingly, blue is the reverse… the least favorite of children and top pick of adults. Ever since reading this, I’ve thought that working with yellow beads must be a treat for the child within me. And, indeed, I find myself delighted in a happy, carefree, childish way, whenever I add yellow paint or beads to my work.
If you Google psychology of color associations, you’ll find some very interesting articles. Here is one I particularly like, especially the picture of the warm-to-cool room!
Questions for the day:
- What things or experiences do you associate with the color yellow?
- Which shades or tints of yellow appeal to you the most, and why?
- How do you feel about using yellow in your art work? How might you take yellow to the next step, beyond what you’ve already done with it?
- What if there were a fire in your home, and all the people and pets were out, what would you save on your last safe trip into the house?