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Fun Color Tales

Our colorful friends describe their wonderful experiences with color.

A Swig of Blue

altAloha! I am a painter in Hawaii who uses acrylic paint to create pictures. One glorious day recently I was painting a brilliant blue sky, and cleaned my brush in a makeshift water bottle-in this instance it was a Gatorade container. And wouldn't you know it, I had the exact color blue Gatorade in the refrigerator. Well, it's obvious where this is going-in a moment of exhilaration I jugged the whole bottle, and I immediately noticed it wasn't cold, and it tasted like muddy, chalk water! That moment of 'Ahaa!' came to me, as most artist would like, only this one led me to the telephone and the poison center hotline. Well, I was using a 'safe paint', I had nothing to worry about. Whew!! My lesson: have fun painting, but don't use drinking containers to mix the paint in-it can sometimes look good enough to drink!
Bill Widner


About the Color Grey

grey skiesMy story relates to something I learned early in life from a friend, which continues to influence me throughout life.

I was in the seventh grade in the mid 1960's, and our schools had just been racially integrated for the first time. I am white, and was meeting and making friends with black students for the first time in my life. A student at my school (Renata) who did not share classes with me had learned from a mutual friend that I, too loved Poetry. She stopped me in the hall one day, introduced herself, and gave me a handwritten note to read.

The note was the most beautiful and romantic prose I had ever read. It told me about who she was, how she loved Shakespeare, and how her favorite color in the world was grey. She loved grey because it was the color of the sky when God was about to send the earth rain.

I too loved grey, because I suffered from severe migraines, and still do. Philosophically, I was always a person who needed control of life and saw concepts in "black and white" rather than appreciating the shades of gray that actually describe most semantic issues we are faced with in life. No answers are ever black and white--they are usually shades of grey determined by differences in perception based on our personal histories.

Thirty years later, I have never forgotten what I learned from Renata about appreciating the beautiful shades of grey that exist materially, politically, and spiritually in our lives. I am an artist who mainly works in charcoal and Oriental Brush painting because I revere the lovely shades of grey that make the extremes (black and white) truly sing. And I still love Renata and cherish our friendship despite living in states nearly 1000 miles apart.
Clemmie King, USA

A Loyal Hawk Tunes into Colors

loyal hawkI worked for over 20 years developing and presenting wildlife educational programs in northern California using birds of prey which, for one reason or another were not able to be released back to the wilds. This story is about a particularly beautiful and personable 20 year old red tailed hawk named Windwalker who was housed right outside the sliding glass doors of my kitchen in a 10' x 10' aviary. Frequently, when I was home and not on the road with him and five other raptors doing wildlife programs, the doors remained open and Windwalker could visit inside or outside as he chose. Needless to say, our relationship was special and very close.

While nocturnal birds of prey like owls, sacrifice the ability to see in color by giving up a large percentage of the cones in their eyes to maximize their night vision (which requires primarily rods), the diurnal raptors, unlike the owls and most songbirds, can not only see color, some of them are able to discern ultraviolet light, allowing them to see urine trails of the rodents they hunt. Eyesight is of extreme importance to falcons, hawks and eagles whose visual orientation, finely articulated because of their ability to perceive color, supersedes the sense of hearing in their very high speed world.

While at a board meeting of the wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization that I volunteered for, our group moved to our hostess' patio for a delicious dessert of fresh ripe California strawberries and shortcake. With Windwalker perched on my knee, I put my fork into the first bite of shortcake, whereupon the bird became quite excited, quickly but delicately plucking the blood-red strawberry off my fork with his sharp beak and with a calculated toss, threw it to the ground!  Everyone watched in amazement while the hawk proceeded to remove all the strawberries from my plate, depositing them in a mushy red heap at my feet. With his task completed, he relaxed and began preening his feathers, a project that consumes about 30% of a raptor's day. The rest of the meeting was given over in an attempt to understand his unusual behavior

We concluded that in all our years together, Windwalker had never seen me eat anything as bloody red as the meat that he himself consumes on a daily basis. He was using a delightful combination of memory, loyalty and his ability to discern colors to intelligently correct a situation that in his mind was not normal.

Cars and Cookies Don't Mix - "There's my colors!"



Years ago my team and I were designing the packaging for a start-up baked-goods company. About 5 weeks into the process we presented our initial designs and mock-ups. The client was pleased but told us the color directions need to be changed. We presented our reasoning, and data, for the selected color palette and still he wanted the colors to be changed.

After a lengthy discussion defending the attributes of our recommended colors he asked us to step outside with him --which we initially thought may have been an invite to fight him over the debated issue. Then he pointed to his car-- a green, brown and red Eddy Bauer Edition truck, and stated "there's my colors". He wanted his packaging to follow the colors of the car. So, after much resistance, we produced the packaging in the client-demanded colors. The product didn't sell well, in fact they didn't even move from the shelves. Now he is out of business.

I guess Cars and Cookies don't mix well!

Roy De Young
Creative Director, Western Region
Temel, Inc
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A Black and White Wedding

wedding gowns

There was never any doubt that my bridesmaids would wear black and white at my wedding! There was, however, some local controversy over my selection in the hearts and minds of the older Italian women in the little town in which I grew up--black at a wedding--mother of mary--what was she thinking?! Perhaps the time had not yet come for this unseemingly distasteful combination for a wedding party attire--the year was 1970!

And, adding to my woes, the day started out with an overcast sky and drizzling rain--this was in late August! If it were not for the intense red glamelias (tea rose hybrid) the girls wore in their hair and carried in their basket bouquets, even I thought we might look "funereal" without the bright sun. Well, all turned out well when the sun made its brilliant debut and the heat rose to 90 degrees. Even the little Italian ladies who came to witness the heresy had to admit the look was not so bad after all. Most importantly, my wonderful hubby and I are still very much in love today--maybe it was the early morning rain that brought us the love luck, or the yin and yang colors, or just the right alignment of the moon/sun/stars. Whatever--it worked!

The combination of black and white has remained with me all these years and continues to play an integral role in my decorative and design work. I am drawn to the combination of light and dark and how they play off of one another. Of course, we could expend tremendous energy discussing the emotional, psychological, environmental, sociological (you get the picture) of color preferences--but we'll leave that for another contest!

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