Our February 13th “Color Muze” segment on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, focused on the fascinating concept and phenomenon of “Synesthesia”, or “Unity of the Senses. I learned about Synesthesia through my color seminars at the IACC-NA (The International Association of Colour Consultants and Designers North America) from Mr. Frank Mahnke, President of the IACC-NA and the Director of the IACC Education/Accreditation Programs conducted worldwide. Mr. Mahnke lectures on the psycho-physiological effects of color, light and the human reaction to the built environment, as well as the role of color as information and communication in the field of marketing.
In my first Seminar with the IACC-NA, I learned about how colors (the visual) can provoke associations with our other senses, (smell, touch/the tactile, hearing and taste), as well as affect our perception of weight, volume, size and texture. In the words of Mr. Mahnke , “It seems that the centers for processing sensory information are linked with each other, leading to crosstalk between the senses.” If this is true, and it would seem from the evidence of our senses that it is, then the concept of Synesthesia is an important consideration in any and every color decision we make, with potentially profound consequences emotionally, physically, aesthetically, and even spiritually!
Let’s look at some examples.
Considering Temperature: Painter, designer, teacher, writer and theorist Johannes Itten wrote about experiments that supported the thesis that we can feel a 5-7 degree difference in temperature in rooms painted blue-green, and red-orange. When we consider the associations with blue-green (water, coolness), and red-orange (fire, heat) this would seem to make sense! What experiences have YOU had temperature-wise, being surrounded by architectural color? Does blue/green always feel cooler, and red/orange warmer to you? Does it depend on the value, saturation, intensity, tone and context of the color? And what about the color of that color- its hue?
What about Volume? We can see through experience, that lighter, cooler colors seem to recede, thus making a room feel larger, (giving it more “room”) while warmer, more saturated, and darker colors seem to advance, and take up more space in a room, thus making it appear smaller. Have YOU had this experience? As a color designer, have you used these principles?
Can color affect our perception of weight and size? Darker, warmer and more saturated colors tend to seem heavier, and the areas they cover seem to be larger, while paler, cooler and more pastel colors seem lighter, and the areas they cover, smaller. Thus a darker, warmer, and more saturated color will seem to bring a ceiling “down”, and the opposite for a paler, cooler and more pastel color. Can YOU see this effect in these two ceiling areas? The effect may be complicated by the fact that the area surrounding both is in the hue range of cream to white!
The above are just a few of the infinite examples of “sensory crosstalk”, or Synesthesia, which I suspect pervades our daily lives far more than we are conscious of.
In a future article, I will explore Synesthesia in terms of our five senses: the visual effect of color as regards to our sense of hearing, touch, taste and smell. In other words, What scent does the color lime green conjure up? What flavor would rosebud pink be? Does cobalt blue “feel” rough or smooth? These are illuminating exercises to try for ourselves, and I am going to discuss just how to do that.
“What color would you assign to this word, and the meaning it has for you at this time?” I asked her.
“Aqua” she replied, without missing a beat. This only makes sense. Rebecca lives in Florida, on island, near the water, and walks on the beach nearly every early morning. The Aqua color of sea-blue water which reflects the sky, with its associations of both airiness / expansion, and sublimity / depth would make it the perfect expression of Rebecca’s intention to dive into her dreams, and Soar with them, making her cre8tive life vision a reality.
You can hear my Muze with Rebecca, as well as her complete extraordinary and inspirational interview with co-host Lyna Farkas on Artistically Speaking Talk Show on your computer anytime! And, over and over…I love to listen several times to ALL of the Artistically Speaking Talk Show interviews.. They are so rich, inspirational, informative, and FUN!
I hope you will check back to Cre8tive Compass Magazine for Synesthesia: Sense and Sensibility Part Two, and join our Color Full exploration.
What a luscious, luminous world we have as finishers, decorative painters, muralists, artists, artisans and humans, to explore! Please join our Color Muze on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, and Cre8tive Compass Magazine, “where we honor your passion, and your vision, in this community we are co-creating”