Monday, 27 March 2017

Clashing Colours

Fun Fact:  According to Wikipedia many languages make little or no distinction between what in English we call blue and green.

I had not heard the expression 'blue and green must never be seen' until quite recently and it baffled me.  The idea behind it is that the colours clash so it's not a good pairing but I find this rather astonishing.  To my eye blue and green are a perfect pairing so clearly this must be a matter of taste and I would be inclined to guess that popular tastes change over time and give rise to ideas such as this.  In my opinion analogous colours always look nice together, but perhaps this saying arose at a time when people favoured complementary colours.   However the saying 'red and green must never be seen' is also in existence at least on the internet and in people's memories.  So there is a case of dislike for complementary colours.  In both cases there seems to be a bias against green that has me curious.

In modern times the concept of clashing colours doesn't seem as much a worry to people, and colour experimentation is encouraged among the fashion forward and sartorially adventurous. 

To me, colours that clash give a visual feeling of discomfort that makes me want to look away.  It seems to me that for the most part the aim of someone presenting colour, whether in art, fashion or a floral arrangement for example, is not to have viewers look away.  The aim of an unexpected colour combination is to have viewers keep looking, intrigued by this new experience, entranced, enticed.  The aim is to please even if it may also be to surprise.  But what pleases me may not please you.  Most of us have experienced thinking something hideous which someone else thinks beautiful.  There are few colours I find hideous in themselves, though some that evoke no emotion from me, but there are combinations I dislike and I am sure that is the case for most people.

So what does it truly mean to say colours clash?

 There was a time when I didn't have the vocabulary to articulate what I was intuitively seeing and as I learned more about colour theory and the properties of colour much clicked into place.  Some things I had intuited now had clarity and I learned some entirely new concepts.

 Often I find myself irritated by the makers of fabric for combining colours in a print which to me are all wrong together.  As I am now shopping not only for purely warm colours, not slightly warm and also warmed with gold not with bright yellow, I am learning to distinguish these qualities more readily although comparison always helps.  So often I am frustrated by a maker of patterned fabric not considering the properties of colour and mixing colours that clash or putting warm colours on a clashing background.  White and black may be neutral in colour science but they are not neutral as in anyone can wear them successfully and it is not a given that they compliment every other colour.   Another type of clashing is in saturation level, where soft, muted colours paired with crisp, strong pure white or black are not only clashing in the sense of pattern colours and background but this combination is not going to flatter anyone because it's a mixture not found in human colouring.  We may have colours in us that appear to be white or black in context but they might actually be various versions of cream, off white, charcoal or dark brown.

So getting back to my theory about clashes being caused by non-harmonising colour properties,the colours you wear might clash with each other or they might clash with you.

I went to the site Who What Wear to read an article on clashing colours that look great.  This is their conclusion, not necessarily mine.  Not every example they offered actually did clash.  Some were just examples of complementary colours.  A general Google search of clashing colours almost predominantly brought images of bright colours and not all of them actually clashing.  Although not a fan of bright colours myself, I began to feel quite defensive on their behalf.  After all, in the right context they look amazing.

Here is an example from Who What Wear

No doubt about it I dislike this colour combination.  The mixture gives us both cool and warm colours, brights with a pastel and a muted dark.   Edgy or ugly?  That's a matter of taste. Would you wear it?   I'd say it's so ugly, so bad, it looks deliberate and that saves it.  Sort of.  Anyhow, the question of whether or not it clashes can be answered.  Yes it does. Perhaps that endears it to you.


If you want an authority I'd suggest Imogen Lamport, who usually explains things clearly and with images.  She has a brief explanation  on clashing colours here.

I get a chuckle out of re-reading her blog post on this because I commented there a few years ago when I was still operating under the assumption that I was a Winter as I'd been told by a dinosaur back in the Cretaceous period.  I also seemed to be under the assumption that I liked mixing warm and cool colours but unfortunately I must have been tired when I left my first comment because Imogen asked me to clarify and I could not remember what I'd meant.  I was still learning about colour then and I hadn't really grasped that there were degrees of warmth or coolness in colours.  I wrote of being attracted to warm oranges and greens so coping with that and my Winterness by pairing them with navy. 

Although Imogen advised me to pair them with a warm navy and I now understand what warm navy looks like I don't think that a cool navy paired with a bright orange would offend my eyeballs.  To me most navy blues ( not the warmer marine navy though ) are like black and work well with bright colours.  I know that the colours of the palette Bright Spring are all neutral-warm and created with a touch of the same bright yellow to give them that hint of sunshine brightness, but some of the colours still read as cool to me and some warm in the same way that when looking on a basic colour wheel I see the blue/green/purple side as cool and the red/yellow/orange side as warm.


Bright Spring is one of the few palettes that has true black.  It also has a few deep blues that read as a bright navy to me.  There are both pinks, yellows, orange and warm red in this palette and every colour looks great together.  If looking at any of these colours in isolation I would probably identify some of them as cool and some as warm but they don't clash with each other because they have the same degree of warmth, which is just a little bit, they are all bright, even the lighter colours having a certain bright sunlight sort of intensity to them.  I think this colour chart shows what didn't quite work in the colour blocked outfit above.  The pale pink isn't quite warm enough and the maroon colour is really out of place.    Although there is a lot of pink in this palette, and some are pale, there is more warmth to them and the coolest looking pinks have a brightness.  On their own I might guess that some of these colours would clash with each other but seen together I can sense that there is a commonality, properties about them that make them harmonise and it's not just their brightness.  The colours are mixed using a bit of the same bright yellow to give them their brightness and to take them in a warm direction.  They are not purely warm, but neutral-warm.  This is a concept that is fairly new to me and it's difficult to see it without context.

Another website offered up this image as an example of clashing colours.  It looks like a magazine page from the eighties.  The colours are bright and yes we've got blue and pink which we traditionally think of as cool and orange and a greenish yellow that we might think are warm, but I suspect these are all colours of the Bright Spring palette I showed above.  The palette is representative, so there will be colours that fit which aren't shown, like this green-yellow.  Further below I compared a bright cool palette with a bright warm one to see which it looked like this unusual yellow belonged.  To my eye all of these colours look like they are in the Bright Spring palette as shown or that they would better fit with it than with the Bright Winter palette.


There sure does seem to be a bright colour bias on the internet, with everybody assuming that a colourful mix means clash.   I am not a big fan of bright colours myself, as to me they are the volume turned up too loudly, but I can admire them in small doses, absolutely admire them when worn by someone who is suited to them, and just cannot get on board with the idea that pairing bright colours makes for a clash.  For one thing, wearing all brights is getting a very dominant colour property in harmony. I think that  these particular brights would all turn out to be leaning warm if tested so that would make them absolutely in harmony and there is no colour clash here.  It might be eye-searing depending on your taste but a clash would result if you replaced the bright blue here with one of the soft greyed blues from a Soft Summer palette.


 A comparison of bright colours shows the palette that is neutral-cool above the palette that is neutral-warm. 



Here we've got a clash, where although the colours are all brights the top is cool and the bottom is warm.  She gets away with this clash because it looks so deliberate.  It's still a clash but it's not likely you would assume she didn't know what colours she was putting together.  She has also put the cool colours up top because they suit her own colouring so best to have them near her face.


What if we use all neutral-warm colours but combine muted and soft colours with deep and rich ones? I suspect it could take me forever to find such an image in an outfit.  It's more likely in home decor where people are less discriminating.  So I will take images of palettes again.



I  don't see a lot of tension here, though a little bit.  The Soft Autumn palette doesn't seem as warm and that is what stands out most to my eye.  They both appear a bit muted though the Dark Autumn is muted with darkness as though there is a bit of shadow falling on right autumn colours.  The Soft Autumn seem more noticeably influenced by the neighbouring Summer palette.  I think my reaction to this would be to sense something was off but not be able to identify it right away.  The less harmony between colours the more obvious the clash.

 There are more subtle clashes when our eyes detect some sort of similarity.  This can happen when trying to figure out your own best colours too.  It's exactly what happened to me.  The warmer I went with a palette the better it got but each time I thought, surely this is enough and each time it was almost good enough.  Until I got to the palette with the most harmony and it was a 'wow' moment.  Almost good enough isn't as obvious a clash even though it still is one. 

The Bright Winter palette shown above is one of the worst I can wear because it is such a strong clash with my own colouring.  Cool and Bright combined with Warm and Soft is a colour clash indeed.  With either of the two Autumn palettes above the clash would not be as obvious and we may not even call it a clash so much as feel the colours together are a little bit off.  "Meh" we might say if we've picked up any vocabulary form our children



This pairing is surely a clash.  If the top palette represents my own colouring it couldn't be a good idea to dress myself in the colours of the bottom palette.

So let's try Soft Autumn again but this time next to Soft Summer.  How do these two palettes work since they've both got the soft, muted aspect going for them?


While Soft Autumn looked a little cool next to Dark Autumn it looks warm next to Soft Summer.  It's not a screaming clash because they aren't screaming colours but let's not make the same mistake as the rest of the internet and think that only bright colours can clash.  These are clashing, it just might be that the emotional response this clash provokes is more along the lines of disinterest than aversion.  Combine these in an outfit and you have nothing special, something a little off. You might tolerate some of the colour mixes more than others. The eye does see that there is something in harmony.  Both palettes are soft and muted.  I can imagine combining the Soft Autumn greens with the Soft Summer pinks and not really detecting anything amiss because they are almost complimentary colours ( green and red ) so a little tension is expected.

So how should you wear clashing colours?  Any way you want to, of course.  You  might wear them by accident if the clash is subtle and you don't see it.  I doubt that is the end of world.  You might wear them obviously and deliberately because it suits your sense of risk and fun.  Or maybe you will use the cheat method: don't wear clashing colours at all but let most people think that you do by just wearing a selection of mixed brights from the same palette. 

If clashing unknowingly concerns you then you can see how a personal palette swatch can be helpful.  How easy is it to tell Soft Summer colours apart from Soft Autumn if you are just trusting your eyeballs?  Easier for some than others and harder than most people think. 

Maybe now you have a better idea what to look for if you sense that some colours are clashing but don't know why.  And never let anyone tell you that colours clash simply because they are a mix of three or more brights. 

None of these photos are my own and I have attempted to give credit as I found it.  If a photo here belongs to you and you wish me to remove it please let me know. I will be sad though because this post took me hours.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

I Don't Have The Blues Anymore

You won't believe how many posts I've written about blue and then given up in frustration.  Or maybe you will believe it if you are a regular reader.  The posts end ups far too long even by my standards and I can't seem to write about blue without including purple.  You see, I am trying to understand these colour intellectually, which is essentially my approach to everything in life including my emotions and you can probably imagine how well that works out for me.   You may laugh, you may roll your eyes, you may only skim read this if at all, but believe me I tried to shorten it and couldn't. 

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One of the things I've learned about colour in studying colour theory and in particular as it applies to Personal Colour Analysis, is to consider the degree of warmth or coolness.  We all learned about primary and secondary colours, possibly even tertiary or complementary colours in school and probably along with it the idea of warm colours and cool colours.  If your education was like mine you were shown a colour wheel like this one...


and you may have been taught to bisect the circle into the cool and warm halves, usually on the lines right below were we see yellow-green and red, with the top half labelled warm colours and the bottom half labelled cool colours.

I never gave this division any further thought until I began to learn about how colours could work in harmony with people's natural colouring and once  learned how the four category system was a simplification of work done by artists in the past, studying human colouring, I encountered the idea of degrees of warmth or coolness.  It seems so obvious but I'd never thought about it before.  Adding yellow or red to a colour adds warmth to it and adding blue to a colour cools it.  I understood this as I looked at the colour wheel because the movement towards blue or away from it and towards red or yellow can be seen but I'd never considered before that people also vary in their degree of warmth or coolness.  I thought in terms of whether or not I could wear warm colours and never considered that there would be a degree of warmth or that any other colour property might matter, such as brightness, mutedness, lightness or darkness.  But there are so many colour variations beyond what can be shown on a colour wheel and now I know that when I am looking for colours to wear I need to be seeking very warm ones not just slightly warm.  I am beginning to learn how to recognise that but it not only takes practice it takes context.  We understand colours better in comparison to other colours, which is why it helps to know your colour category and have a swatch fan or book to use for identifying colours that belong with that set. 

Since I wear warm colours best, I find it easier to identify the right warm colours for me from within the group of obviously warm.  Oranges are the easiest and I need only ask myself if it is muted and in a medium value range.  Mistakes are likely to take me into either the True Spring palette, which is a bit too bright, or the Deep Autumn palette which is not quite warm enough and is also too saturated for me.  They aren't awful but they aren't best and what I find is that I sense something is off when wearing them.

This graphic gives a good idea of the True Autumn palette.  Aside from the teal and turqoise, there are two blues that look like pure blue and two purples that are quite neutral and not warm reddish purples.  This is a bit surprising but I did say I would leave purple alone for now...  Blue is the focus here. I will try to stay focused.


The blues for True Autumn palette are often described as marine blue, sometimes light navy and periwinkle blue.  Colour names are not overly helpful though as you will see if you google a colour name.  Quite a range of blue shows up for any given blue colour name.   Periwinkle the flower, is usually a purple-blue or pure purple colour and periwinkle the mollusc is a deep purple-blue.  But what interests me most is that the purple and blue for the True Autumn palette are not what I would have expected for a palette described as purely warm. 

Okay, I Can't Help It I am Digressing to Purple

The kind of purple we think of as warm is a reddish purple.  One of the differences I notice between colour systems that use the Sci/ART original colour theory and other systems is the inclusion of a range of fuschia to wine purple colours.  What I have learned is that while these colours are technically considered warm, they work better for the people who wear neutral-warm palette because they are colours made of red and blue but for the True Autumn palette yellow, or more accurately gold, is a very important addition to the colours.  While I can squint and make a funny face and sort of see the yellow added to the True Autumn blue, moving it in the direction of teal though not yet becoming teal, I don't see any in the purple at all and if it were there we wouldn't have purple we would have brown.

My best theory is that when it comes to the purple it is a matter of being a complementary colour.  If your skin is gold-orange in it's undertone  which the skin of a True Autumn person is, then the harmonising colours need gold-orange in them too and the one exception is true purple which is the complementary colour. The red-purple that we think of as a warm purple belongs in the Deep Autumn palette and in Bright Spring which is also a neutral-warm palette with rich colours. 

 I like this graphic for it's side by side comparison of different palettes, though it's to be understood that colours on a computer screen don't always represent reality. The two seasons that have the least blue at first glance seem to be True Autumn and Deep Autumn, though Soft Summer's blues are very greyed and read more grey in this image.


Let's See if I Can Get Back to Blue                                 

We aren't always good at recognising our own best colours though and a variety of biases can get in the way.  I've written about how that happened for me and how I ended up being someone who always defaulted to blue.  I had no idea how much of a golden glow I could have because I'd never seen myself in the colours which bring that out.  Blue generally does not bring that out but rather makes me look quite pale and sometimes a bit grey, however I had become so accustomed to seeing myself in blue I had no ability to recognise it rarely did me any favours.  I say rarely because there are blues that work for me although they are not abundant.  Just as orange is a no go for those who are purely cool in colouring, and yellow is tricky, blue is tricky for purely warm toned skin and blue based colours are not my best.

Well, now I am a little bit afraid of blue.  Or maybe that's not quite the right word.  I have lost interest in it seeing how much better I look in burnt peach, gold, muted orange, rust or golden greens.  I've all but abandoned pink as well, though warm pinks are better for me than blue.   Never in a million years would I have guessed that my best and most flattering colours are in the peach-orange range .  Blue has all but disappeared from my closet currently represented by a few teal and turquoise colours which may not be exact  matches to my best palette but will do for now.

Trying to identify warm blue is fraught with issues and if you have any interest or curiosity in that just try the link below this image and read the blog post and the resulting comments to see how artists cannot agree on what makes a blue warm. Thalo Blue moves in the direction of green and yellow while Ultramarine Blue moves towards red.  Think of the rainbow colours ROYGBIV to picture the colour spectrum.  If you think of it as being like a number line with the left direction being warmer and the right direction being cooler, any movement left warms up a colour.  But that is only one theory and those who would bend the line into a circle and make the colour wheel, argue that once blue moves right it is eventually going to encounter red, a very warm colour and so Ultramarine Blue, a redder blue, is the truly warm blue. 


Coolness and warmth are perceptions of course, not a temperature that can actually be measured and in general when we look at the three primary colours, red, yellow and blue, we see blue as cool and red and yellow as warm.  Which blue looks warm and which cool to your eye?  The link takes you to an article that argues Thalo Blue is the warmest.  While the argument makes sense that's not how my eye sees it.

I spent hours studying this problem regarding warm blue and reading about colour theory and how it relates to Personal Colour Analysis and then I had an epiphany.  It's a small one as far as epiphanies go but here it is.

If you need colours that are warmed or cooled, it's best not to look at a colour and ask is that a warm blue or is that a cool yellow?  It's better to identify what has been added to it.  Of course that's not easy and that's why having a colour swatch fan for your season type really helps.  We understand colour best in comparison. We can train our eye to see what we are looking for but it helps to have a guide. 

I am looking for colours that suit the True Autumn palette and those colours have added gold, which presumably warms them.  That makes the Thalo blue the right sort of blue, whether or not I see it as warm or cool.  A darker version of Thalo blue looks somewhat like the colour often called marine blue.  I have a winter scarf in a similar colour. 

                 Benjamin Moore paints offer a slightly too dark version of marine blue.

 Amy Adams, who is probably a True Warm Spring, wears a lot of blue on the red carpet.  Some blues are obviously more successful than others but the Spring palette does contain more blues than the Autumn one does. This one looks good though perhaps not stunning.  I believe it to be a True Autumn blue and if Amy really is a Spring she will shine in something a little brighter.  There is a muted quality to this blue and True Autumn has a muted quality to it which True Spring does not, though both are for purely warm coloured people and a little bit of borrowing from each other's palette may work for some people.


So according to the Sci/ART system True Autumn is the season with little blue because it is the palette with the warmest AND muted colours.   Spring colours are warm and also bright, a little more pure- colour like crayons. Muted blues either become teal or greyed blues and the greyed blues do not work for True Autumn as they are too cool.  Blue muted and warmed with gold is what works for True Autumn and there are fewer of these since they quickly become teal or turquoise.

So blue is not my colour and I find I don't miss it.  I really do like the marine blue and thalo blue that are shown above and whether or not they read as warm or cool to the eye they do have added yellow-gold so it makes sense that they work with skin that has a gold undertone and overtone.  I like small touches of it as an accent with my gold-orange range colours.

In the 12 palette system ( such as in the picture above )  8 of the palettes are neutral with a lean in either a warm or cool direction.  Most people are in one of the neutral categories, which is one reason why the Color Me Beautiful system with only four seasons didn't work out too well for many people.   This neutrality is also why blue works for most people.  Those who are neutral leaning warm may need to be more considerate of their best blues and those who are purely cool or neutral-cool will find blues to be one of their best options.

Some people, though not all, look great in a colour that is a near match to their eyes.  A red head with blue eyes tends to look stunning in a blue that matches her eyes even if she is an Autumn redhead and not a Spring redhead.  The types of blue can differ and an Autumn redhead is likely to have blue that is closer to teal or the marine blue shown above.  Also note that not every redhead has warm skin so they are not all Springs or Autumns; there are cool reds, which is why statements like 'all redheads look great in X colour' are useless.

Since I am talking about blue I will mention teal and turquoise.  These are colours where blue and green meet and they can be more blue or more green while still remaining recognisably teal or turquoise.  Being someone who suits yellow as opposed to blue based colours ( or more specifically gold ) my better versions of teal and turquoise lean towards green because they will have more gold/yellow in their mix.  If teal and turquoise look more like green than blue, then they don't add to my collection of wearable blues, but rather to my greens.  In the True Autumn palette I have a wide range of greens to choose from.  As I play with colours and look for the best from within my palette (every person determined to be a certain seasonal palette will still have good, better, best colours within that palette as well as personal favourites) I find that I am most flattered by the colours with a very obvious gold influence.  That also contributes to my tending to leave blue behind.  It even influences my choice of greens, and I favour the more golden greens over the more neutral looking ones.  Perhaps it would be different if I were going for the stunning impact that can be created by a colour that is complementary, some professional and dramatic makeup and a few million dollars worth of jewels.

In other words, if I were walking the red carpet I might try something that looks bold on me, something that flatters and yet competes with my face just enough that I need to decorate my face well. Perhaps purple.   But that's not how I generally dress myself.  I really like the look of harmony, of wearing colours that look like they are organic to me and because I don't balance much contrast or brightness nor am I flattered by obvious coolness, the very obviously golden colours are my favourites.  I see a wardrobe shaping up where my colours are mostly cream, peach, burnt orange and gold-green with denim and brown as my neutral and base colours.

 Having Said That...

It's not completely good bye blue because I live in jeans.  But that takes blue away from my face and I am more conscious now of the type of blue and aim for a more muted turquoise look to my denim.  So it's not entirely good bye to blue but nearly.  Blue is somewhat like my ex-husband:  okay in small doses but not needed to make me happy.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Insert Smart Alec Title Here

Mindfulness is highly recommended and I really suck at it.  There was a time when I objected to that expression but honestly now I think it is useful sometimes in it's pithiness.   I have studied, in an academic way, the philosophy and the how-to guides for Yoga and Buddhism extensively.   I  used to be a dedicated practitioner of basic Hatha Yoga but have done very little of it in the past several years.  I have attempted to meditate and I know how it is supposed to be done and all the tricks and what does not constitute meditation according to the experts.  I know that it is not really about making a blank mind, which is a common misconception among beginners.  It is about watching thoughts arise and fall away and not chasing them. 

I am a thought chaser and the cruelest thing about meditation is that when I sit still and breathe and attempt to relax my mind that is when the best thoughts come. And as a writer I am not inclined to want to let them go.  I experience the same thing lying in bed at night just prior to falling asleep.  As the mind relaxes, thoughts bubble to the surface, connections are made, beautiful sentences form themselves and often paragraphs and the rough beginnings of an essay.  The less able I am to write these down pronto, the more I am certain they are the most profound and brilliant thoughts I've ever had.  More than once, just prior to falling asleep I have said to myself, "This idea is much too good for me to forget.  I will definitely remember this in the morning."  I never do.

Another Buddhist principle which I find very compelling in theory and can practice in many ways but not when it comes to my thoughts is the concept of non-attachment or letting go.  Let go of my thoughts?  I really do not want to and no amount of telling me it is good for me will convince me that I should.  I am quite able to be less attached to material things than many are, despite the fact that I possess many.  Living in a building with other people makes me all the more aware that a fire could break out and I could lose everything I have.  I like everything that I have; that is the very point of having it.  While my home and my possessions do not define me they do describe me.   I love my books.  I love the growth and learning represented in my paintings.  Since I live by the principle love it or don't keep it, I would be sad to loose pretty much any and all of the contents in my home and yet I am prepared to lose them.  Both people on the ground floor are smokers.  I practically expect a fire, though I really do not want to have to go out the bedroom window on my collapsible escape ladder and wonder how well the cat would like being stuffed into a backpack if I do have to evacuate that way.   I am prepared to lose everything that I own but I am not prepared to lose my thoughts.  I suspect I believe that I am my thoughts.

So meditation practice is a special kind of torture and I don't really like it and I am not very good at it.  When I do attempt it I aim to not have any deep thoughts but then once I begin trying to manipulate my thoughts I am not properly meditating.  Besides I hate being told what to do.  Walking on my own is a more successful form of meditation for me though purists will say it's not the same as sitting still. Although I'd probably argue with them just because I like to argue I know that it isn't. The sitting still part is supposed to be a challenge also and of course for me it is.  I do not sit still very well unless very deeply engrossed in something.  If I try to meditate I can immediately think of many things to do and will want to pop up and do them.  I can actually have this problem sometimes when trying to read a book.  I sit down and remember the plants need watering, or think that it might be a good idea to pop some laundry into the machine or I suddenly notice that my bare feet are cold and I would like some socks.

I don't seem to succeed at anything in the way it is intended.  Sitting usually leads to restlessness but lying down produces my best thinking.  Lying down is also the best way to read.  Walking is the best way to meditate, letting my mind observe thoughts, observe my surroundings but not dwell on any thoughts for long.  The only way to get my thoughts down to a simmer is to engage in sensory activities but I must be so immersed I cannot easily get out.  This is what painting and walking do for me and what gardening used to do.  Sensory experiences  can also greatly impeded my ability to relax.  Often I get into bed, intending to read for awhile, which for me usually means two hours, only to bounce out again quickly because I've discovered a toenail is too sharp and needs trimming or I've developed hives and need to apply ointment, or it has suddenly occurred to me that I should cut off three inches of my hair.  I might be obsessed with the feel of the edges of my fingernails.  They might need filing to improve an uneven shape or they may be too long.  I cannot stand my fingernails past my fingertips and keep my nails very short. 

If anybody needs meditation, I can hear the experts say, it is me.  I would agree but as I'm not inclined to respect authority, bend to experts or do what I am told, my meditation cushion gets used as a seat for when I blow-dry my hair in the morning.  My cat loves nothing more than when I am down on the floor so we sit in front of the full length mirror together, I using the meditation cushion, she in front of me making eye contact with me in the mirror as the hairdryer drones.   I've told myself I will get back to more regular yoga practice.   Maybe I will.  I think that is something I need to get more attached to.

Saturday, 18 March 2017


I've always been a picky shopper.  Even when I have been experimenting and going in the wrong direction I was still picky.  I know what I want when I walk into a store.  I know what I like.  And I have some very strong opinions about colour and colour combinations.  I probably irritate the store clerks, particularly those who just want to sell me something and don't understand why I care what the fabric is or actually have a specific colour in mind.

Recently I went into a store in the mall, hoping to find long sleeved tee shirts on sale at the end of the cool season.  Usually I prefer to look on my own and my automatic answer to 'Can I help you?' is 'No, thanks.'   Often I walk into a store, do a very quick march to the back wall and out again.  I can tell at a glance that they are only selling red, black and teal this year or basically whatever the current trends are.  I might be looking for skirts and they obviously don't have any, or blouses or sweaters.

If I do request some help the conversation goes something like this.

"Can I help you find anything?"

"Sure, thanks.  I'm looking for long sleeved tee shirts."

"Oh, okay we might have some of those."  Leads me to back of the store  and hauls something off a rack.

"Oh, no thanks I don't wear black."

At this statement I nearly always get an odd stare.  Then they haul out something white because if you don't wear black it must mean you want the very opposite.

"No, thanks I don't wear white either but cream would be okay.  No wait, actually I want colours but I am looking for warm colours."

I suspect she has no idea what I mean by that so I add, "Earth tones.  You know, Autumn colours."  I laugh a little.  "Yeah, I know they tend to show up in that season.  I want them year round."  Did I hear a sigh?

She leads me to something in olive green.  It's soft and draped looking.  Promising.  But On feeling it I can tell it will be a rayon-spandex blend.  I decided to try it on anyhow.  Then she takes me to some of the new Spring items.  There is a short sleeved tee shirt, very pretty.  It does have warm colours on it in a lovely floral but it's on a pure white background.  It's not the salesgirl's fault that this is so but I want to rant.  Don't the makers of fabric understand anything about colour?  Why put warm colours on a cool background?  I know, I know, this will work out okay for the majority of people who are neutral leaning something.  The white is not stark, snow white.  It's just off white enough for those neutral leaning warm to wear it.  This happens with black too.  Warm colours on a black background will work for Dark Autumns and some Bright Springs.  It doesn't work for me.  I've tried and even though I will often fall for these patterns on white or black backgrounds they compete with my face.  Too busy, too much contrast, too white, too black.

I try the two tops on.  Meh.  They are okay.  I suit medium olive green well enough but I know what my cat's claws are going to do to this fabric and I don't love it.  It's thirty dollars and it's fast fashion and I don't love it. I consider the pattern on white.  It's really pretty.  I want to love it.  I do almost love it on the hanger, if only that background were cream it would be irresistible.  But it's not and on me it's meh again.   I get out my two True Autumn colour fans from my purse and hold them against the patterned tee shirt.  The sales girl calls out to ask if I am doing okay and I call back that I am just fine thanks.

Yes, the colours in the pattern are perfect.  No, I cannot convince myself that the background is cream.  Maybe off white if I squint.  I compare it to the white of another shopping bag I am carrying.  Okay, it's not stark white but it's still too white for me.  I have discovered that a pale cream reads as white on me, but this is not pale cream.

I put my own shirt back on, struggle into my coat and wrestle with the cross-body strap of my purse.  I nearly step on my glasses which have fallen on the floor of the change room.  I walk swiftly out into the store and the bored sales girl calls out to me from behind the counter where she is chatting with the other employee.  I tell her that while they were almost right they were not right enough for me to purchase.  She tells me for a second time how much she personally loves that olive green top, had one herself but lost it and is so bummed about it.  I sympathise.  I tell her my cat's claws would ruin it.  She asks how old my cat is.

Finally I escape.  I go to Norther Reflections, a basic Canadian franchise with basic slightly twee often pastel clothing.  I kind of hate it but I sometimes find one or two treasures there.  No long sleeved tee shirts left but I'd not liked the colours they had this year anyhow.  Too pale or too bright.  I bought two short sleeved tee shirts because one was in a green I've been looking for and they were two for one so I chose a light orange.   I could wish for the neckline to be a bit more scooped but it's reasonable.  I try them on.  They look good.  I buy them.  In Spring I can wear short sleeved tees with cardigans and I've at least achieved my much desired dose of green.  I want another dose but warm greens are scarce right now.  I wash the new shirts as soon as I get home and hang them to dry, eagerly awaiting the day I can wear the green one.  Small pleasures are sometimes the best.

Friday, 17 March 2017

A Day in the Life...

Some mornings I can't hide how tired I am no matter the effort I make.  I've applied a lot of makeup by my standards, perhaps not by another's but I've attempted to give some colour and definition to a pale and slightly puffy face.  I look a little paler in this photo than the version of me that looks back from the mirror but this face will have to do.  I am going out for a few was not particularly cooperating but it could be worse.  Growing out does mean there will be days when one resembles a mushroom.

I'm wearing a new-to-me cardigan which I over-dyed to a deep gold colour.  It was a green-beige when I bought it at the thrift shop.  My scarf is a pashmina shawl, fine wool, one of two I bought years ago in warm golden tones mixed with blues and paisley patterns.  The other one is draped over the dresser in my bedroom.  The orange, long sleeved tee shirt is a bit oversized.  I bought it on sale and the other option was too small.  I live in it and am rather tempted to go back to the store and buy the remaining one now marked down.  Does a woman need two oversized orange tee shirts?

I'm going out today, nothing exciting just to get some errands done and meet my parents at the cafe for lunch which I am not going to have.  Controlling gluten exposure when eating away from home is tricky and sometimes it seems I've been exposed too much and need a break from it.

For the past few nights I have slept quite a lot, easily ten hours at a time.  Yesterday I was feeling so good I enthusiastically tackled household projects.  I washed a mountain of dishes that accumulated after a cooking spree that provides me with a week's worth of cooked meals.  I did some laundry.  I spent five hours tackling much neglected paperwork, filing and filling out forms, preparing items to be mailed, making phone calls that had to be made and updating backup copies of my computer contents onto a USB.  Today I need to do a few things to complete these jobs and I can't wait to check them off my list.

Perhaps only a few people in the world know this is a very exhausted face.

Perhaps I can distract people from my face with my  colourful scarf and bracelets.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Addendum to the Last Post

 This links to a site promoting Personal Colour analysis and arguing that it's best to have a proper one done and not try to DIY it.  I don't disagree with that but as I have said before, it's not within my reach.  I will be the first to admit that trying to do it yourself is difficult and my previous post was meant to outline that.  While I am happy with my final results it did take me long time and waste money. Still, it was less than it would have cost me to travel to an analyst and pay for the analysis, travel, food and accommodation.

This site is a really good visual example of how difficult it can be to just look at yourself and know how colour will work with your skin.  It shows how two people can look very different and wear the same palette and how two very similar looking people can wear different palettes.  I recommend a peek at it for good visual explanations.

This example shows a True Autumn on the left and a True Winter on the right.  Without the drapes they would appear very similar in colouring and in general you can say both have blue eyes, brown hair and fair-medium skin tone.  I think this is why my 1984 analysis ended badly, with a diagnosis of Winter.  I am certain the analyst was not skilled or well trained, perhaps just couldn't see what she was supposed to see.  The four season Colour Me Beautiful system had guidelines that would lead someone to assume a brown haired, fair skinned and light eyed person is a Winter.

These two are Dark Autumn, showing that it won't work to assume that a Dark Autumn palette only belongs on someone who appears dark in colouring.  That's actually why I prefer the alternate term for it which is Deep Autumn.  Deep implies a richness and contrast level that I think is more accurate.

Take a peek at this site if PCA interests you and for further understanding of what can baffle you if you are trying to figure it out for yourself.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

What Might be Keeping You from Finding Your Best Colours

Personal colour analysis assumes that you want to look like your best natural self, but allows that what looks natural varies according to a person's colour properties.  When used in makeup, the right colour palette allows for natural or dramatic looks but also acknowledges that some people have natural colouring that supports more drama than others do.  Someone who is Bright Spring will look natural in makeup that would look like clown makeup on a Soft Summer but both can achieve either a natural and no-makeup look or a dramatic look that is their own version of dramatic.  The idea behind it is that your natural colour does not need changing but will look its best when supported by wearing the colours that have the same properties. 

These are my tips based on experience and mild obsession with the topic.  None of this is as good and effective as a proper colour analysis done by someone who knows colour theory and has a good eye and proper equipment.  You may be like me and not have access to that or not be wanting to spend the money.  I probably spent the cost of an analysis just by experimenting and buying clothing I didn't keep, but I would also have to spend travel and accommodation costs for an analysis and that just isn't going to happen.

We generally have three colour properties that are not always easy to identify just by looking at ourselves in the mirror or asking someone else.  Finding which palette of colours works best can take you on a route through the back door to discovering that these are the colour properties also expressed in you.  

Some systems simplify too much and others begin to split hairs but in the end whatever works for you or makes sense to you will probably get you into the right general region.

                        13 Errors in Thinking That Could Impede Your Journey

 Comparing yourself to celebrities

Oh this is a very problematic one.  I know because I've done this one endlessly but I have to admit that while it might be fun it's not very helpful.  Any celebrities that are typed as a particular season are only guesses and the online experts do not agree on what type to give many of them.  Some celebrities in particular are more difficult to type because being a chameleon is a part of the celebrities job.  Add in the fact that most images we see of the are touched up and enhanced, most are not wearing their natural hair colour, fake tanning products can't seem to escape an orange tone, and while the most common hair colour amongst caucasians is brown, most caucasian celebrities dye their hair blonde or red and tell us it's natural.

Without draping the celebrity with test colours, the only ones whose season can be guessed at are those who are in the standard appearance range for that season.  For instance, it's easy to type Lindsay Lohan as probably a True Autumn because she's a natural redhead, has obviously golden skin and warm eyes.  It's easy to type Courtenay Cox as probably a Bright Winter because she has dark hair, fair skin, cool blue eyes and high contrast.  Most celebrities who are True Autumn tint their hair red and even the natural redheads enhance the colour so we get the impression that a True Autumn has very rich red hair.  Most have brown hair and some have blue eyes, which we tend to think of as cool but there are warmer blues and warm eyes are those that have a golden coloured ring of colour in the centre or golden flecks.  Soft seasons tend towards an appearance that we have sadly labelled as mousy so the Soft Season celebrities are likely to dye their hair blonde, giving the impression that blonde hair is required for a Soft Season palette to be appropriately yours. 

There aren't even enough celebrities who are women of colour to have good representatives for personal colour theory but it must be said that not all women of darker colour are Winter as so often seems to be assumed.

Usually guesses being made about celebrity seasons get one aspect of colouring correct.  A given celebrity is usually guessed as being either a Light Spring or Light Summer, or a Deep Winter or Deep Autumn.  The best guesses are made by analysts who have sought out many photos in order to make comparison and looked for pictures with good lighting.  But even if the celebrity has been assigned the correct seasonal category, you may not be correctly identifying which celebrities share your own colouring.  Especially not if, as I experienced, your own photos are not accurate. 

Celebrities wear the 'wrong' colours all the time because they have the help of makeup and photography in order to pull it off.  If we identify with a certain celebrities appearance and see her wearing hot pink we may think oh okay, hot pink is a colour for me too then.

 I cannot wear pink ( or blue or green or brown etc )

With a few minor exceptions there is a version of every colour for every person.  If you think there is a particular colour you cannot wear it is likely that you've only tried the versions of it that are not right for you.  It's also possible that you just don't care for the colour.

Your best colour palette will have

temperature:  warm, cool, neutral-cool, neutral-warm. 
value:   the light to dark range
chroma:  the muted to bright or deeply saturated range

For people who are purely cool, a colour like orange which is always warm doesn't work and browns don't either as they are in the orange family.  Yellow is difficult but a cool yellow is possible.  It has a bit of blue added to it but does not yet become green.  For the neutral-cool people who do not wear bright or deep colours, their version of orange is more peach or coral.

For purely warm people blue is tricky and blues that work well are limited.  They have a bit of yellow added so they begin to move towards teal.  Grey is also tricky and warm greys are essentially taupes and greyed browns. 

I have the wrong hair or eye colour

Unless you have dyed your hair, then you do not have the wrong hair colour.   Some colour systems or style advisors seem happy to state that certain hair or eye colours go with certain types of skin or with certain of the given categories in colour analysis but the problem with that is that they are in error and it's an unfortunate misconception they are spreading.  There are norms but there are also plenty of people outside the norms.  Websites that show you examples of celebrities or models are using images that are enhanced and women with dyed hair to represent the norms of a certain category.  They would have you believe that all Light Springs, Soft Summers, Soft Autumns and Light Summers are blonde when in fact they usually have light to medium brown hair.  These same systems like to suggest that True Autumn is always a redhead. 

If you are not a True Autumn, True Summer, True Winter or True Spring seasonal analysis doesn't work for you and you need tonal analysis 

This is either a marketing ploy or a very poor understanding of colour theory.  The tonal system tells you that if you aren't one of the true seasons then you only need to pay attention to one of the three colour properties and figure out which your dominant one is so then you might be simply a warm or a deep or a light.  You may find good colours for yourself in those palettes but you will also reject a lot of them because they aren't compatible with your other colour qualities.  This is just sloppy assistance disguised as choice.  Soft and muted might be your dominant quality but you will lean cool or warm and look better in the muted cool or the muted warm colours.  The tonal system leaves you to either figure that out for yourself or not.  

I look good in X colour.

Okay, I may sound a bit obnoxious here but we aren't always the best judge of what colours we look good in.  In my case, I'd rarely ever seen myself in what have turned out to be my best colours.  I didn't have enough experience to judge so I was just making the best out of the colours I was gravitating to.   You might not look good in the colours you think you look good in and that might be misleading you as you try to find out your palette.  When you have found the right palette you will be flattered by every colour but you may not like every colour.  Some of the colours will be more stunning on you than others and this will vary amongst all of the people who share a palette.

I can wear any colour and look good because I am happy.

Well, that's subjective.  If you are happy then that's great.  If you are young and healthy and wear a lot of makeup you can probably stretch the limits of what colours you look great in but I would argue that you might not look as great as you think you do.  You might not know how good you could look.  An error I was making was actually in looking at the dress and not my own face.   A dress that is a wow dress looks like it belongs on you, could have gotten there organically, harmonises and compliments you and then the overall looks is wow.  This is not the same as 'wow that's a really gorgeous red dress'.  You've heard that expression 'the dress is wearing her'.  It really does happen.

You have a bias against a colour quality or a colour group

It is probably true that some people are attracted to colours that are in the right region if not the very specific category that suits them.  I have seen enough people looking quite blah in the wrong colours or looking overwhelmed in black to doubt that this holds for everyone.  I had my own struggles with biases too though not my own.  I have always been attracted to warm colours but grew up with parents who were not.  Somehow I internalised the idea that warm colours were not as nice.  I also identified so much with my mother in terms of appearance because everyone said I looked like her, that I assumed that the colours that looked good on her would look good on me too.  Given the time period I grew up, there was also a strong move away from the earthy colours of the seventies.  As I was becoming a young women in the eighties the earthy seventies colours were rejected and seen as dated.  You wouldn't have been caught dead with brown shoes and the only orange that was acceptable was neon.

If slightly warm is bad then all warm will be worse (or other variations on this)

This is my specific experience but it could apply to those who need truly cool colours as well.  Because of the bias I mentioned above, I tended to choose colours that were a little warm, not knowing that there even was such a thing as neutral-warm.  I didn't understand that I could need colours that are all warm so if the neutral-warm colours were a meh, then I just ran back to the familiarity of cooler colours.

Not understanding the properties of colour can lead to confusion in a variety of ways similar to my experience.  If I had tried the purely warm colours of True Spring I would also have had a bad experience because the colour palette given the name of Spring is always clearer and brighter then the Autumn palette and the colours are warmed with yellow whereas Autumn colours are warmed with gold which is more muted. 

We really only understand these qualities in context and making comparisons.  Most of us can judge some colour qualities just by eyeballing it but we generally cannot tell if something is neutral-warm or purely warm, or yellow-warm or golden-warm without seeing it in relation to other colours.  It is this way for all of the colour properties, though light, bright and dark are fairly easy to distinguish at their extremes they are still relative properties.

Knowing which colour properties you need but confusing the order of importance

This is what I experienced when I got to the point of Soft Autumn in my colour journey.  The properties of colour that work best for me are warm, muted and medium value and in that order.  So the most important quality is overall warmth.  When I was trying to figure this out by staring at my face in a mirror and asking what properties do I see, what I kept seeing was the mutedness.  I had been recognising that one for awhile because although I had been told I was a Winter back in 1984, I was seeking out the darkest winter colours because they appear more muted.  Then I decided I must be a Summer because those are more muted than the Winter colours and I knew something was still not right.  I worked my way from True Summer to Soft Summer as it dawned on me that softness was an important quality for me.  I had also begun to notice that I had some warmth.  I've written about how much of that difficulty was caused by having the wrong camera setting and thus getting photos where I was being bleached.  

Soft Autumn seemed like a really good fit but I began to find two problems.  It was a bit too soft and light and I was finding I preferred the warmest of the palettes colours to the cooler options.  The blues, pinks and mauves weren't feeling right and the beiges were too light and insubstantial.  I began to see more contrast in my colouring than in the Soft Autumn palette and more warmth.  I looked at the other Autumn palettes then.  Deep Autumn was too bright and sometimes too dark. Some of the colours were too cool. I felt I could wear it's earthiest colours but not the brighter ones.  True Autumn was still muted and soft, but that was the secondary quality.  The primary quality I needed was pure warmth and the secondary quality was mutedness.  I'd had it backwards.

Wearing the wrong colours might change the appearance of your skin tone and mislead you

Honestly, I don't know if this can happen to everyone, but when I wear very cool colours my skin looks greyish and I mistook that for being a cool tone.  I had no idea I could look softly golden or peaches and cream until I started to wear purely warm colours. 

Store lighting usually does nobody any favours

Judging how you look in a colour by trying it on in the store can be a very frustrating exercise.  I can look a bit green-yellow in some fluorescent lighting and so I instinctively wanted to eradicate that. Wearing cool colours did that by making me pale grey instead which my confused thinking had decided was preferable.  Slightly warm colours enhanced the yellow look so did nothing to convince me to go warmer.  It was not until I began to try on the purely warm colours that I discovered that even under fluorescent lights I now looked golden instead of yellow-green.   There are still times when the lighting just isn't flattering no matter what.  It's always best if what you are buying is returnable because once you see it in natural light it may not be the colour you thought it was or you may discover it doesn't suit you as well as you thought it did.

You have been mislead by beauty editors with recommendations for fair skin or red hair etc.

This one happens a lot.  It shows up in womens' magazines and websites and again, I don't know if it is ignorance or marketing that is involved.  We see advice on what colours to use based on what colour your hair is or whether you have fair, medium or dark skin.  This advice will not work for everyone because it doesn't take into account the properties of colour and it makes the mistake of thinking that hair colour has any impact on what colours work with skin tone.  You can be fair skinned and have warm, cool or neutral-cool, neutral-warm skin.  You can be fair skinned and suit light, muted, dark or bright colours.  There is no such thing as the best red lipstick for fair skin.  You can have blonde hair and if you do and you are over thirty you are probably dyeing it.  That means you may not suit blonde or you may not have gotten the right blonde for your skintone.  There is no use in choosing a colour based on this hair.  Not all medium skin tones are warm, not all dark ones are cool, or vice versa.  This bit of nonsense advice is just of no use at all.

Close enough might be okay for you

If this is the case then while you may not be finding your very best colours, you don't really care.  Close enough is good enough and you are probably operating on that same principal the tonal systems uses, ie: all bright colours or all cool colours.  You might be choosing your best colours most of the time instinctively but don't know why.  You might love pink so you wear any or all pinks as long as they seem mostly cool-toned.  You might enjoy wearing a lot of makeup and colouring your hair and by doing this you can fudge your best colours a little bit.  Celebrities do this though they also have the assistance of photo shop so we see them with brighter eyes and clearer skin than they may actually have.

This was a post I began to put together a long time ago.  I decided to resurrect it and share though it may not be of any interest to regular readers who've had enough of my colour explorations.  If it helps anyone, that's great.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Attempting to Train my Border Collie Brain

 This is inspired both by my ongoing intention to record here how I cope with life as once active individual now handicapped by chronic illness and by my friend Jazzy Jack who is also writing about the journey to understand self, meet needs and pursue  interests within the framework life has given.

In many cases, most people who see me, see me at my best.  They see me on a day when I was able to shower and dress and go out, at least for a short while.  This doesn't give an accurate picture of my difficulties and limitations and so i am often asked how I manage to fill my time since I do not work.  "What do you do?" is asked with that particularly drawn out pronunciation on the word 'do'.  We are a culture that cares about doing.  To be busy is to be worthwhile and valuable and most people fear boredom.  I am lucky, perhaps that I have many relatively sedentary hobbies, though my particular affliction also affect cognitive abilities at times too and that is perhaps the hardest part for me to deal with.  I wrote the following essay based on my typical and daily experience.  What is not described is the fact that my day and thus my time for pursing these activities is shortened by my need for something close to eleven hours sleep, physical fatigue that makes washing, dressing, preparing food for myself and general household clean up more challenging and  a drain on both energy and time, as well as the typical paper-work and administration that seems to accompany adult life.

I sometimes describe my brain as a border collie, noting that it needs to be kept busy or I start chewing up things I shouldn't.  Since this is supposed to be a metaphor I hope you understand I don't literally chew up the sofa or the rug, however I suspect I am inclined boredom eating so that is something I must watch out for.  I also get a bit impatient with people which is a sign I am struggling because I generally am a quite patient and forgiving person.  I don't easily suffer fools who are to blame for their own foolishness but that's a whole other blog post which I probably wont' write.  Or at least not publish.

I crave intellectual stimulation even more than  tortilla chips but I need to be actively engaged in it, so it's not enough to be taking information in.  I need to talk and write to process it and then I need to create or build something with the information and ideas I've got combined.  This is why more than anything else I read and write.  The majority of what I write is not seen by anyone.  I do a great deal of journalling but my journalling is rarely about feelings.  It is about thoughts, responses, ideas, questions.  It is taking what another thinker has stated and playing with it, adding my own thoughts.  I need people in my life with whom I can discuss the many thoughts and ideas because discussing is how I best synthesise what I am learning and how I develop my own thoughts.  When I lack a supportive and interested dialogue partner I talk to myself, or at least I think out loud. This is one reason why I have never studied in libraries.

I have always been a creative person but I have also always been an intellectual person.  I do not mean to say that by this I am announcing that I am smart.  I have enough evidence to convince myself that I am relatively smart but mostly I am far too aware of how much I do not know and how much more I want to know to ever be able to really identify as smart.  I set the bar high and since I am no Leonardo Da Vinci I am not particularly impressed with myself. 

In childhood I spent as much time conducting science experiments as I did drawing or writing stories.  I had nature collections, I recorded observations and the results of tests.  As I got older and discovered I was not particularly good at memorising facts, school taught me that I had limits.  I loved learning but school was undoubtedly an exercise in learning to believe I was good at some things and not others.  While the system has it's limits and it's flaws I don't blame it.  There have to be measures and standards in schools because there are in universities and in work environments.  I am now in a position where I don't have to meet another person's requirements or ideas about how to learn something and I can learn for the sake of my own pleasure and not in order to pass an exam.  I can appreciate however much I learn for it's own value and not worry if it is not enough to hit the right mark. 

In the end, while I am addicted to information and crave knowledge what drives me is the need to be thinking about things that seem important to me and while a wide range of topics interest me, what I am most passionately interested in is best summed up by psychology and philosophy.  I want to examine how people live, why they do what they do, how does the mind work and what does this mean for our lives.  Who are we, what should we do and how should we do it?  My study subject is often myself though not always.  I am also paying close attention to the people around me, the people I observe, the people I encounter online.  When it comes to people I know personally I am reluctant to write about them in ways that would identify them.  It feels like an infringement on their rights to privacy so I tend to write publicly about myself more than anyone else.  I have to choose between appearing to be a narcissist and compromising the privacy of people I care about.  As much intense study as I apply to myself I am also applying to others around me and particularly those I am closest to.

Freud, while he really did get the ball rolling in psychiatry and therapy, was also very influenced by his own beliefs and experiences.  Penis envy?  I mean really!  Was that really the only way he could understand or describe women feeling limited by their gender and envious of the freedoms and advantages men enjoyed?  Given his time period and his personal biases, yes it was.  I too will succumb to such errors but unlike Freud I don't expect to have any profound impact on any academic discipline so instead I just bumble along.  A frustrated academic-type scribbling away in her notebook like a delusional schizophrenic and talking out loud too.  It's probably a very good thing I stay home.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Dyeing for Colour

I know that's not a very original title but it was just too tempting.

 If anything will lead me to accumulating more clothing than I need it is my love of colour.  I see colour combinations or a slightly different version of a colour I like and I think "oh I want that."   Having a whole new colour palette open to me, the purely warm, mainly medium value colours of the Autumn palette is definitely feeding that. Perhaps in time the novelty will wear off and I will be content to own and wear whatever suitably Autumn colours I have managed to find at the shops.  Otherwise one solution to this desire for so many colours is to dye things.

If you read my blog you may know I like to dye things.  I've had hits and misses with this but it has been one way to experiment with colours to find my best ones and often I dye thrift shop items.  I rarely get brave enough to dye something that is new and more expensive however I have done that.  I am, after all, the woman who cheerfully cuts her own hair and not always well.  I am fearless or stupid.  Take your pick.

Recently I used Dylon Terra Cotta Brown on a cardigan that began as beige   I pulled the cardigan out of the dye bath sooner after achieving something I'd call  peach.  

Here it is again, with a knit top that was a warm pink but a bit too bright and more suited to the Spring palette of warm colours.  I dimmed it by a quick dip in some gold dye. 

I also dyed a white pull-over sweater in the same terra cotta dye bath and achieved this...

But later decided I wanted a richer colour so dunked it a second time into a warm red I'd created by mixing some dye colours ( scarlet and gold ).

It takes some patience but searching for white, pale coloured or beige cotton sweaters as the thrift shop has worked out well for me.  They are easy to over-dye and if it doesn't work out it's not a big expense.   I did this sweater in the terra cotta colour and liked it better as a more muted colour with all that texture.  The darker looking bottom is a photography lighting issue and the actual sweater doesn't look like that.  I was rapidly losing my lighting as I took photos so shadows were making it look as though I didn't achieve a uniform colour.

This cardigan was a peculiar sort of greenish beige originally.  Warm but bland to my eye so I dipped it in gold  dye.

I bought this hat when I was experimenting with the Soft Autumn palette.  It was too pale and not quite warm enough.  It's wool which is a bit trickier to dye than cotton as wool is naturally water repellant so it resists the coloured water which you want to sink into the fibres and deposit the dye.  I made a dye bath that was very dark and I left the hat in longer than I leave the cotton garments and changed it from a light beige-pink to a terra cotta colour.  It was the same dye bath as the sweater above.

Not shown in photos but in this same frenzy of dyeing things I also changed a white cotton blouse to cream by a quick dip in the gold dye and then running it through the wash immediately. 

My current projects have been in the same colour family of the warm pink/red/orange/terra cotta/peach colours.  I love these colours but want to add more gold and warm green to my wardrobe as well.  Because I am nearly always in denim, and have over-dyed some faded/distressed jeans to a more medium and warmer denim blue tone, I am automatically frequently wearing something blue.  It's a no-brainer that someone using an Autumn palette might have coloured jeans, twill or corduroy pants in all those lovely autumn colours that are available every year,  at least in a nice rich brown.  Only in my dreams.  I have yet to find a brand that makes them in tall sizes (and by that I mean both a longer leg and longer rise) and offers rich autumn colours.  

Autumn colours are trickier to find except perhaps in the Autumn season. The pure warm colours of True Spring are warm but also clear and bright which doesn't work for me.  I need soft and muted, medium value purely warm colours.  I read somewhere that most people are a cool or neutral-cool season.  Whether that is true or not it seems that those colours are most popular and stores are full of them.  Half of the summer tee shirts and blouses I own were not in warm enough colours and I've dipped them in gold dye to alter that.  As the weather warms and we progress through spring and summer I will share more of what I have dyed with varying success. 

Some possible reasons to use fabric dye....

If you need very saturated colours you may find a top up with fabric dye can revive something that is fading or increase the saturation of a secondhand purchase.

If you need very soft colours a dip in very diluted dye can give a colour boost to something that is white, off white or light beige.

If your colours need to be softened by greying them or warmed by adding yellow or gold this can be achieved by putting a coloured garment into a dye bath.  To grey the colours, use a grey-blue dye. 

If you have something from a thrift shop that you like the style and fit of but it's in a colour that is too light or it's white or beige it's a good candidate for dyeing.

Tips on Brands

I have experimented with three brands available to me.  Rit dyes in liquid form, Tintex in powder and Dylon on powder.

Tintex- the cheapest and available in drug stores and discount stores, comes in primary and secondary colours, fairly bright unless diluted, for secondary colour and brown mix the powder with hot water really well and for a long time.  Theses colours are made by combining pigments and if they are not well mixed you can get separate splotches of blue and red on something you are trying to dye brown.  Blue, yellow and scarlet dyes don't present this problem.

Rit- I have used this in liquid form, from a bottle.  My local supplier doesn't offer a very wide range of colour and perhaps there isn't a wide range.  I have used denim blue with great success and would consider this brand for browns which really need to be well mixed and so are perhaps better used in liquid form.

Dylon- these are the most expensive and have a wide range of unusual colours.  There are two different sized package of powder offered and colours vary amongst the sizes.  There is a better selection of warmer colours and muted colours here.  This is my source for gold rather than yellow and for warm greens.  This is also the source for the terra-cotta colour. I buy these from the local Fabric Land.