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Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I am a color junkie. I love it, crave it, am entranced by it. My color sense is so finely attuned that I can glance at a pair of shoes, go shopping for hours, and buy a purse that exactly matches - or very close, because I can see the tiniest variations in color that no one else notices.

My favorite thing to play with when I was little was my box of 64 Crayola crayons. I went through a lot of boxes. Back then, before they got creative with the color names, most of them were called what they were. For example, you had Yellow, Yellow Green, Green Yellow, Green, Green Blue, Blue Green, and so on. The browns had names like Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Mahogany, and plain old Brown. Later I found out the siennas and umbers were the same as artists' paint colors. The fancy names were for the pastels: Carnation Pink, Salmon, Thistle, Periwinkle, Lemon, Lavender, Orchid, Sky Blue, Sea Green.

I used to love to take plain paper and color random patches, trying out colors next to each other to see what looked pretty and what didn't. I'd lay down patches in the order of the colors to see how they shaded into each other, though I hadn't yet heard of a color wheel. It didn't take long until I noticed that Thistle was a pastel Red Violet and Periwinkle was a pastel Blue Violet. To this day I think with those color names. I'm wearing a Thistle colored sweater right now.

Why am I not an artist? I almost was. As a child and teen I drew constantly. When I got to college - a small liberal arts college with no evening classes - I wanted do double-major in English and Art. I was told I couldn't. So I flopped a coin to decide between them and it came up English. I should have just changed colleges. After school, the time constraints of earning a living weeded out most of my hobbies. What small talent I may have had in drawing and painting is gone. My color fixation these days expresses itself in my knitting, my wardrobe, my makeup, and my home.

My color fascination extends to people. The endless variations of browns the human race comes in is delicious. Literally, because most of them remind me of food. I see caramel, chocolate, cinnamon, toast, coffee with and without cream. The only skin tones I don't associate with food are the assorted pinky-beiges that Caucasians tend to come in. Hair, also, is variations of brown. Look down in the mosh pit at a rock concert. Yellow-brown, red-brown, browns all the way from sienna to deepest umber. We're all brown. Only the tone varies, really, and all are luscious.

I know people who are afraid of color. Their entire house is painted white, all their furniture and carpeting is beige. I know people who wear nothing but black. I couldn't do it. Living without color would be to me half a life.

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