All This Color
For me, it's always been yellow. I love orange, too, and currently a pale peachy almost pink that my younger self would have rolled her eyes at, a deep jade green with hints of blue inside it, green the color of old paint primer, the kind you find when you peel back that terrible old wallpaper you wish had been just a decade better design-wise, the blue of the sky just before a storm rolls in - smokey with a hint of warm elephant grey at the edges, a warm tomato red, almost vermilion, but not quite, though it will do, too, the minty green of bath water tempered with scented salts, and sometimes, the bubble gum pink of the ice cream I ate as a little girl, but always, always, if I had to pick just one, yellow is my favorite color.
If we're being honest, which you know by now that we are, I think I chose it because it was the color everyone else I knew liked least. There weren't a lot of other kids in Kindergarten who proclaimed the color of mustard to be the best - there were plenty who loved blue, green, and too many, I felt at the time, who loved pink, but no one claimed yellow, so I did. It didn't take long to realize that it really wasn't a mercy choice at all, and the more options I found in my crayon box, the more I grew to love every one. Dandelion, Cornsilk, Goldenrod, Marigold, and Canary, all there, waiting to be suns, flowers, dresses, shirts, bananas, lemons, capes, or a bit of a bumblebee.
Though my love of color has always been fierce, these days it seems to be taking on an even bigger role, so much of my days in the depths of design work, looking for just the right shade of green that's not too sage, and not too lime, not kelly or forest, but somehow, if possible to capture, the color of the leaves just after the sun passes over them in the morning. My phone holds an album of photos I've taken during my days in all manner of places from our yard to the bedding aisle at Target, the large bin of peaches in the supermarket to the perfectly designed cover in the bookshop, and from each of these I am instantly tugged back to the time in which I took them, and the color, it's always the color, that stopped me in my tracks. From produce and packaging to prints, these colors always go on to have new lives in my work at some point.
If our endless and proper work, according to Mary Oliver, is to pay attention, then I'd like to think that what I see first is the color, and next the endless possibility of what it could be, not just what it is right then (an apple, a red suitcase, a stop sign, or a balloon), but also all of the other things that color could, and will become.
In the late summer of our first year in Washington, knee deep in grad school and trying to figure out the sights and sounds of this new coast, I found myself beginning to think about the collecting of color, and what it can mean to surround yourself such saturation in the form of objects. In a post on the blog I maintained at the time, which is surprisingly difficult to read through now, both for the pause of seeing my mother's comments, and the very different me who was writing, I wrote, "And if these colors are more than just the pigments my eyes and mind recognize, if they are tiny histories packaged in the tomato red spine of a classic book or the grainy brown wood of family built furniture, the pieces I choose to surround myself with are telling a constantly evolving story of which I am a part." My story has changed so much since then, so have the pieces that surround me, but I know exactly which book I was thinking of because it still sits prominently on the wood bookshelf my grandfather built, and because of that, I am reminded that once again the stories evolve, and shift, but do not stop.
I love that each day I walk past my big yellow table to my green couch to sit and work, that there are salmon pink pillows to keep my elbows from growing stiff as I draw, and when I look up, there's a cluster of old board games on the shelf that are bursting with so much color and life you can almost feel all the lives they've lived before this one. I can almost feel all the rounds won and lost, and the tiny, likely sticky hands that reached for their boxes, selecting them by the color of their edge, not yet knowing not to read, but certain by practice that red meant Monopoly, orange Battleship, and black the Pop-o-Matic Trouble. I love that I use the yellow mug when it's my morning off, the bright pink when I'm on a deadline, the blue whales when I miss Andrew, the white with black script when I miss my dearest friend, and the pale green when I miss my mother. I love that our chairs are red, our shelves are mostly all grey, and my cozy reading spot a soft baby kale green. I love that color is so much a part of my day that it both surprises and soothes me, and I wouldn't have it any other way.