Thursday, 11 December 2014

I Think Endlessly about Colour

Since I do not need to show you what I look like in a pair of jeans, bare feet and a sweater, an overall shape you have seen on me before, I am concentrating on close up images in a study of what wearing my best colours does for my face and in particularly the softer versions of my best colours.  My goal, in choosing what I call 'best' is to identify colours that don't require me to wear makeup or even make me look as though I am wearing some.  Here, with this soft taupe sweater I have powder for the camera glare and some pink lippie which to me feels bold.  I am currently so in love with this taupe sweater it's a good thing there was only one on the shelf or I might have bought two!

              This pretty taupe colour matches the shadows under my eyes! 

One of the personal colour theorists I have read, David Zyla, promotes the idea that our best colours are the ones that already exist in our own colouring-eyes, skin and hair.  In a nutshell, this means I look best in soft pinks, warm/ivory whites, grey-blues, taupe, cool browns, pink-browns and greyed green/teal.  I have found this to be quite true.  I have always gravitated towards raspberry pinks and mid-toned blues that skewed grey or teal.  My closet contains more in the blue-grey-teal range than anything else, closely followed by purple-pinks.  Sometimes our instincts know best.  Believing them to be somehow stronger looking (yes putting on my personal armour again) I tended to choose the darkest versions. 

I find it more difficult, when shopping, to find or determine, the cool brown taupe shades and to find the best greens.  What is on offer and what I am attracted to will often end up skewed warmer, with yellowish undertones. There is nothing yellow or golden about me anywhere.  Even the brownish flecks in my eyes are a taupe brown and nearly match my sweater.  My freckles are even rather taupe.

I suspect there are more sophisticated programmes for doing this, but since I am not aware of them, I used the free site Chip It by Sherwin Williams.  Sherwin Williams is a paint company and on this site they will take a photo and identify the ten predominant colours in it and match them to their paint colours.  Then they give you a palette sample.  I don't think it's perfect by any means.  I have seen photos were it looked to me as though certain colours were ignored and they are matching existing paint colours to a photo rather than creating a paint colour to replicate a photo, but for what it is worth I submitted a close up of my iris, my hair and my skin to get an idea of what colours I naturally embody.

                                        This was apparently my eyes.

This was my hair.  Green and blue are a bit surprising. My internet research shows me that Tricorn Black generally reads as a soft black with a very dark brown undertone that shows up in indoor lighting and it looks more charcoal grey in daylight.

This was my skin.  I can only imagine that Thunder Gray represents the shadows under my eyes.

These colours make a very good starting point for choosing colours to wear.  The colours I wear don't have to be identical but rather obviously should work with these colours.  They might be a deeper tone created by adding grey or black to deepen one of the lighter mauves, for example.  Experimenting with colour won't go wildly astray if the colours I choose suit these tones above.  The Aged Wine colour from the skin tone palette would make my version of a red lipstick.

Back to the psychology of my own experience, I am experimenting now, or perhaps more accurately stated as allowing myself to wear, the softer and lighter versions.  Where once I thought that I had to outgrow pink, that I had to look tough to be strong, at the advanced age of 47 I now know better.  I am both a stronger person than I have ever been and yet also at a safer place in life's path.  It is time to take off the armour.


  1. shawna - you are a boiled in the wool scientist!
    since i´m doing all this color stuff out of my feelings i´m really impressed how you work this out. sometimes i can even talk about - which was bad when i had clients. and i think if one can show some charts and talk about in science phrasing a common client will accept it more - instead of my mumbled expressions of my feeling that miss x should not wear orange - but muted rosé. ;-)
    i´m very glad you´r feel strong enough to put the armour away - loosing this extra weight will make your walk of life more fun :-)

  2. Well if we're basing this on the colors under our eyes, I must look great in blue and gray! I love how much you think about you're doing the hard work for me!

  3. Yes, these colors suit your natural coloring very well! On an intuitive level, it seems right to find your best yourself, literally. I enjoy a bit of theory at times, but then I go and experiment with this and that - and at the end I go with my guts. I was born with red hair (really - not bald or a bit of hair, but as my Mom said, with long-ish red hair, which runs in my family on both sides). As I grew, I became blond. As I grew some more, my hair became brownish, darker with age. When I was 20, I chopped it short and colored in bright copper red and LOVED it. I experimented more with coloring my hair, but in my late 30s came back to that copper red (with some variations just because I like changes). And it really feels like me. It's almost like I am in my natural state when my hair is red... came back to the way I was born. I admire women who grow their hair silver gray, I really think they look awesome, natural and free. And at times I think that I will grow my hair gray as I get older (I really like to think about such things... like getting older :). But I also think that I might not choose this option if it won't feel like me. We'll see. But isn't it fascinating how our appearance changes naturally? And what we are attracted to also changes as we grow?

    I love this soft sweater on you, it's really lovely, and with the delicate string of pearls, you created a good contrast. You don't look like a weak person, on the contrary, you are the person who has her own mind and listens to herself. We all have fears, it is just a part of being alive. But brave people are not those who are fearless, but those who move forward despite their fears. Those who choose to stay true to inner selves. And that's what I see in you, Shawna. You know what's interesting though? In your visual art, from what I see, you are very much drawn to bold, warm, fiery hues. We are complicated creatures, aren't we? Sending you hugses and love! xxxxxxx

  4. Yes, we are complicated and that gives me endless food for thought! I am drawn to bold and warm colours very much, though I sill like them a bit muted and smudgey a bit dirty with a grey or brown undertone is my favourite version of most colour. I also love simple ink drawings and watercolour or charcoal sketches. I use stronger colours in my art and in my home but they don't sit right on my person. I suppose that is a way to express the different aspects of my personality. I am also drawn to very soft limited colour palettes like in french country decorating in homes but the two don't really mix and since I cannot stick to a colour scheme in my home I decided to go with lots of colour.

    I too was born with red hair, though more strawberry blonde I think. It went blonde by the time I was two and progressed to brown as you say yours did. My son was born with strawberry blonde too but his has lasted much longer and is only now beginning to get a bit ashier and dark blonde looking. I have experimented with various red hair dyes and used to think I needed to 'warm up' my colouring but I have changed my mind. A softer brown is more natural looking on me and is what I naturally have right now. Some women do look great in grey hair and I often think I will let mine go all grey eventually. At the moment there are only a handful of greys as I seem to be taking after my mum and greying late. My younger brother is fully grey.

    You speak of coming home to what feels like you and in a sense I am doing that too. I used to dress in all soft blues and pinks sometimes grey, brown or green. Somehow I got the idea that I was supposed to outgrow this, that it was a little girl's palette. Maybe I am just entering my second childhood! ;-)

    Thank you for the compliment and I do agree with you that true courage is having the strength to do what is frightening to you, not having no fear at all. I often do not succeed in applying what I know intellectually to myself.

  5. I think (obssess?) about colour all the time too! Your palette is very interesting. Your eyes and hair came out very similar. The purples in your skin tone are interesting. There are no pale peach and apricot "skin tones" in it! Maybe this is why you want to paint people with odd coloured skin, because they have these undertones you see!
    I love that taupe jumper on you. Your eyes, surprisingly have that colour inside according to the photograph. If I wore this colour, I would look sick!
    I understand being attracted to colours, but not able to use them. I love all white decorating, but just cannot help myself, adding colour.
    I love your little girl palette, although it would wash me out. But if I like a colour, like some greens and greys, that don't suit me, I just wear it with a scarf or on the bottom.
    Keep on exploring! xo JJ

  6. Love the photo of you Shawna and that colour looks stunning on you.

  7. Hmmmmm....colors have always fascinated you gave me food for thought and my head hurts! :D I'm not very sure about David Zyla's theory. My eyes are greenish and I look like crap in green...good in dark green though..And awesome in brown...hmmm.. Gonna try this ChipIT site to see what my colors are O_o
    I think I like you most in blue, red, yellow, in general- more vibrant colors.
    And aaawww, of course you're my internet bestie too! I can have two internet besties you know :D Not like in real life, where I don't have even one :D

  8. hello pretty eyes, and soulful writer. I love this post, and think the paint chips are inventive, or Pantone rules for you! I am please to have read your About Me, and am glad to see you looking well, without your amour!
    I found you through intothewriterscloset and am inspired!
    Happy, peaceful, holidays and cheers!
    xx, Elle

  9. What a great photo of your brave self, darling Director. You have such lovely skin ... how do you manage without pores?! Kidding, but your cool pale skin is really lovely, and your colors do suit you well. You and Mr. Zyla are probably quite right.
    Since I introduce color into my "persona palette" I'm pretty sure those drive my own choices as well. Thinking about color theory can kill an afternoon pretty quick, can't it!
    Speaking of color ... Autodesk Sketchbook has just come out with a jazzy new digital paint program, and I'm trying to steal time to get to that "consciously unconscious" level of facility with it. (No one hold their breath waiting for that to happen!) I'm at an age where there may not be all that many tomorrows so naturally I want expertise and I want it now ... to hell wit patience!
    I miss you at Vis Monday ... this would have been a good one to share. Nothing invisible about you today!

  10. Yoohoo ... I'm baaack! Just a quick pop in to say Merry Christmas! Thinking of you this morning, and wondering what you will be doing for the holiday. Hope whatever it is makes you very happy. Enjoy every sip, every bite, every hug, every giggle and every sigh the season has to bring!

  11. Hi Shawna! just dropping off some Festive hugs! have a very Happy Holiday! lots of love, Sandra x x x


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