Colors and Their Behavior – Recognizing Their Character Using Brain’s Taste Buds

I started a new series of paintings a month ago, but was not able to keep my focus on it. I had a break through yesterday after I reorganized my work area using my work table as the division. On one side of the table, I write and work on my computer on another side of it I have my easel with paints and brushes. It felt as if the two creative areas mimicked the two sides of my brain.

After feeling yucky for a few days because of my sore throat and the heat, a break from it was necessary. I had to paint. The flow of energy was unlocked. The canvas I worked on still needs attention, but essentially the character(s) are already there. The Hooker’s Green Hue is proving to be a very giving color once again. I am glad I have covered that mess I have started the painting with.

For some reason I decided to work with these three colors on this canvas. They weirdly clashed for me.

The violet and the yellow I used still peek through though, but just enough to make the main character(s) pop. I write “character(s),” because the main subject/object on the canvas is constructed of three “facial” states, of one or several versions of the same or several characters. These characters are work of my brain. A part of my creative process is to find where these characters come from and tell their story(ies) not only with my brushes and paints, but also with words.

Just passed by the painting on my easel and, again, I had this feeling that I might be overthinking some parts on it. Sure, it is already good enough, but that is where I am being tricked. “What if I am already done with it?” – I’ve heard this before, ha! Continuing working is crucial. As long as I have this “what if,” I am not done. I should know this by now.

What I see happening is simple. I am leaning towards colors which work for me at this precise moment. I don’t know how I should explain this, but at the moment this green is just right and inspiring me for my next painting in the series. The colors initially used on the canvas were just stuck on it. They were confusing me until I “calmed” them down with white. The previous (confusing) step was needed though. These “weirdly clashing” colors are still there, peeking through a layer of paint, giving the Hooker’s Green Hue a needed boost and richness.

Even though there is still quite a bit of work to do on this canvas, but it is already alive with new inspirations.

There is something else I can’t put my finger on when it comes to using certain colors. Let me see if I can figure this out for myself. The liking/disliking some colors is a part of a learning process about effects colors bring when “muted” in the background of dominating ones. If you are looking for a color quality you can’t see right away while working with it, you could “force this quality out,” in a way, by adding a “clashing” or a “complimentary” color. To explain this process, I am going to use our behavior. You, as a person, can’t truly know how you will behave in one or another situation until you actually encounter that situation. This situation is that “color” you need to reveal your true colors, your true character.

When we see something in the dark, we see it because that dark area is picking up light. That light “becomes” something because of the colors which are reflected there. I could go into physics and talk about why we see one or another color, but this is not the topic I am exploring right now. My purpose at the moment is to look at color effects from “what if” angle, and possibly find a bit of a “fictitious explanation” of why we have certain feelings towards certain colors. “Fictitious explanations” give me more food for imagination. It allows me to delve deeper into inspirational resources when I need to trigger my creative bone.

When you use a pure color, meaning, you paint with one color on white background, the surface you paint on gives you just that, the color with its initial characteristics of the pigment. But when the background becomes just slightly affected by another color which, you might think is not a big deal, it changes the color on top or next to it. Our eyes are able to mix these colors together making a unique experience for our brain. This new experience triggers something in us because it is not recognizable by the brain right away. When presented with “unusual” combination, our brain registers some kind of information which brings a certain feeling or sense previously not fully known to us. These might be triggers of two opposite sides of the same thing. When you play with combinations of colors that are recognizable to your brain, inadvertently you are playing with certain presets we, as humans, have in our brains because of our experiences. When you mix up these “presets,” you might produce unexpected results. New taste buds involving colors might be created in the brain, thus new reactions to certain color combinations might appear.

I wonder and I would love to research why certain people react to certain paintings a certain way, with excitement and awe, while others find the combinations of the same colors in the same paintings that speak to the others just blah. They don’t get engaged with any of it and feel nothing at all. I believe this Hooker’s Green Hue is triggering some kind of set of information connected to a certain preset in my brain which yields a need for certain colors to accompany it. It is almost as if my brain’s taste buds for color are controlling my decisions. The brain reacts to a certain set of colors as if saying: “oh, this combination I absolutely love. I can spend hours and hours looking/analyzing it.” At the same time some combinations of colors make my brain irrelevant, passive and non-reactive. It feels as if I perceive these colors as of a lesser interest to me.

What I find interesting to observe is that each generation reacts to specific sets of colors. Some generations remove certain colors as if saying: “oh, we enjoy these pastels at the moment, so anything which is not milky or pinkish brown (which is an interesting combination for me to explore, now that I said it) we find tasteless.” Funny how Tolstoy comes to my mind (again) with one of his descriptions of a dress which describes a girl who is not fashionable. She was wearing a pink dress with a green belt. Scandalous! and “oh, a poor girl!” This combination of colors was a no-no at balls. If you wore these two at that time, there was something wrong with you. When you look at examples like that, it becomes quite clear that different eras could be described by the use of certain colors, the colors, people at that time reacted to and considered them fashionable.

The art world dictates these trends. The pink and the green is a fashionable dandy today. It might change in an hour or so because of the speed of information we receive, but then, with the same speed, this combination will come back and nobody will ever know that there was a time when you didn’t wear pink with green. No wonder my brain has certain reactions to certain combinations of colors. I am subconsciously affected by the surrounding me today’s world. A combination of colors which clashes in my mind at the present might become the future trend. Recognizing this is a skill. Is it possible to train our brain’s taste buds for the future? The artists who survived the times prove it to be true, but did they know about that then? Just looking, for example, at what is happening with Van Gogh today one must wonder and could start believing him to be a very rich man because of all this exposure he is getting now… But that’s a topic for another entry.

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