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Day 199: Paint Colors

“Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No. Just as one can never learn how to paint.” -Pablo Picasso

I am repainting the house this summer and today was the day to choose the colors. I have been thinking of changing its color of since the day I bought it five years ago. Although I have never known the right color for the house, I have worked to live with the current dull green and siena brown accents. I have never had the chance to pick the color of a house before and although I couldn’t have told you what color I would have chosen instead, I always knew they would be rich, real colors.

At the paint store, I brought in a linen turquoise, sea green skirt of my daughters to try and match the color for the house. I pulled out the poster size color tiles that I was drawn to and was looking for some interesting accent colors, when Mary, the Benjamin Moore color consultant listened to my project and then tried to suggest more subdued tones that are more often used for house exteriors. Similar blues and greens with gray backdrops, so that you had to look hard to see what color the house is.

No, I felt certain, that I wanted saturated colors. Colors, that could not be mistaken, colors that sing together and make you stop and notice what color is. Emerson once wrote, “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit,” which reminds me that the colors I love are vivid and bright in nature, but rarely replicated in the world we construct.

I love the color of warm ocean waves as they crest, the remarkable shades of rose light that fill the sky for moments before darkness, the smoky shades of flowers in a garden, the multitude of greens in the woods hit with a beam of light. These are the colors I think of painting my house. The color consultant tries to impress upon me how bright a color is when magnified by a whole building. I remain undeterred and settle on a few shades of sea green along with a bold periwinkle and a bright rose for trim.

I used the samples on the wall and was struck by the beauty of the combination. The thrill of new colors made me happy. Then I went driving around town and strarted looking at the colors other people choose. Mary, the color lady was right. Upwards of 90% of homes are painted in subdued hues. Grayed shades of blues and greens, browns, tans and brick. Is it neighborly courtesy that has us all agreeing to not pick a bold color? Resale values that keep us from saturated statements?

I don’t know, but I started to feel insecure about my color choices. My 12- year- old daughter Emma, asked me, “Do you like the colors or are you just worried about what other people would say? Are you afraid to be seen?” I had to pause because I was afraid of what others might say, until I remembered that I was ok about being seen, and that if I was going to be seen, it would be in color. Embracing colors, deep saturated hues is another way of loving oneself which is why Picasso also said, “Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.”