Friday, December 21, 2012

Recycle Christmas Cards

(Ideal central motif card to use)
Recycling Christmas cards has been my hobby for a number of years. I have taught 1st graders-to adults, including my neighbor Helen who was in her 90s when she learned to make them. Most go on to make many boxes.

These make wonderful gift boxes for small items such as jewelry, scarves, money, checks, and candy.

My directions are simpler than many I found online. I published a how-to in the kids' magazine put out by Focus on the Family last year.

If you choose to make them, have fun. The first one is a little hard, but after that you can make many. Kids, especially boys, seem to make the most!

What you'll need:

  • Old Christmas cards
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Stapler, white glue or tape

How to make them:

    Below is an example of an asymmetrical design. It can make a cute box too, but some parts will be lost in the folds.
Cut the card on the fold line (if you choose a card with a central motif, the boxes are normal looking. Asymmetrical designs look funky, but are fun too.)

  1. On the inside of the card hold the ruler from one diagonal corner to the other, and draw an X mid line. Can use pencil if you want to erase your mark later.
  2. On the short end, cut a slit from the end to where the two lines intersect There will be two cuts on each end. (See the picture below)
  3. Repeat on opposite end.
  4. Place the ruler on the inside of one line. Hold it and bend the card towards the inside and crease, or use scissors, ruler or a glue stick as a creaser/iron.
  5. Repeat on each line, creasing toward the middle.
  6. Fold the short end (wall) up.  Cross the two shorter legs criss-cross under the longer "tab" that has been created that sticks out past the short end.
  7. Fold the tab to the inside (they are creased). Place a piece of tape on the tab and stick it to the inside "wall" (short end) of the box.
  8. Repeat for opposite long end.
  9. Repeat the three steps above for the opposite short end.
  10. Repeat the above steps for the back of the card. This will be the bottom of the box.
  11. Optional: Cut a piece of paper or cardstock to fit inside the box to cover up the greeting and signature from the card. Tape in place.
  12. Make the bottom of the box just like the front side. If the card is not too thick, you can fold the two sides through all steps. You can also use scrapbook paper to make boxes as long as they are not too big. Thinner paper isn't as strong as card stock. 
See the folded sides and the X in the middle. Note: cut the folds on the shorter side of the rectangle, fold in and make the tab which is taller hold the legs in. You can use glue, tape or a staple to secure the end.

This is how to use the ruler to find the center of the card from one corner to the next. See picture above to see the drawn x. Fold the sides to the center and crease. (The man in the picture was such a good sport he allowed us to use some of his cards from his "tacky Christmas sweater" to make boxes.)

After both halves of box are assembled, but the bottom into the top. (How do you like my "tacky Christmas sweater"?) At this point, you can fill the box with candy, etc.

Happy Christmas boxes!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Colors-Red and Green

Modern Christian Symbolism
  • Red - Christ's blood shed for our sin on the cross. (John 19:34)
  • Green - Eternal life in Christ. (John 3:16-17)

Green is specifically an evergreen color, as evergreen trees are said to never die, nor will we if we live our lives according to the word of Christ.
Many of the early Christians were originally pagans who celebrated Yule. When they started celebrating Christmas they wanted to bring some of their old, beloved customs into the new holiday; among them were the Yule log and the Yule colors red, green, silver and gold.

I am busy, as I know you must be too, decorating the tree and house, cooking yummy goodies, and wrapping presents. Christmas music is playing, and I am picturing the heavenly choir and organist pictured above as I hear "O Holy Night" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and feel a peace in my heart despite the busyness. May peace bless you too in this special season of love.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Chocolate is a favorite color because it reminds us of treating our taste buds. I am not sure I could live with the pimped out refrigerator graphic above long term, but it is fun to imagine it in my kitchen.

If you are redecorating your master bedroom, consider combining yummy shades of chocolate and sky blue colors. The orange in browns compliments the blues, the opposites on the Color Wheel.

Sometimes, chocolate receives bad press, read the following for an update on Myths about Chocolate, it is good to know the truth!

Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical and divine attributes, appropriate for service in even the most sacred rituals of birth, marriage and death. By the 17th century, chocolate in drinking form was a fashionable quaff for the European elite, who believed it to have nutritious, medicinal and aphrodisiac properties. It’s been said that Casanova was especially enamored by its charms.
And the love affair has yet to wane. Chocolate manufacturing is a more than $4 billion industry in the United States alone, and the average American eats at least half a pound of the confectionery every month.
But chocolate is a funny thing. In recent years it has become the darling of nutritionists as health benefit after health benefit has been revealed — most notably that it lowers the risk of stroke and heart attacks. Yet, it’s long been the character actor bad guy in any number of scenarios, including acne, weight gain and high cholesterol.
But is chocolate’s bad reputation warranted? Should we embrace it as a miracle food, or shun it as a deleterious delight? Here's the dope on chocolate's most notorious myths.
1. Chocolate raises bad cholesterol
If you’ve given up chocolate in the name of lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, you may have been unwittingly sacrificing the sweet treat for nothing. Quelle tragique! While it’s true that chocolate contains cocoa butter, which is high in saturated fat, much of the fat comes from stearic acid, which doesn’t act like saturated fat. Studies have shown that chocolate does not raise bad cholesterol, and in fact for some people, chocolate can lower cholesterol levels.
2. Chocolate is high in caffeine
Contrary to popular belief, chocolate is not loaded with the jitter-inducing compound known as caffeine. A Hershey’s chocolate bar contains 9 milligrams of caffeine and a Hershey’s Special Dark bar contains 31 milligrams, as compared to the 320 milligrams found in a Starbuck’s grande brewed coffee. Darker varieties are higher in caffeine, it’s true, but not as high as many people think.
3. The sugar in chocolate causes hyperactivity
Excessive sugar causes kids to jump off the walls, bounce off the ceiling, and generally mimic a rogue helicopter, right? So we thought. But more than a dozen good-quality studies have failed to find any link between sugar in children's diets and hyperactive behavior. Two theories: It’s the environment that creates the excitability (birthday parties, holidays, etc) and/or that the connection is simply in the minds of the parents expecting hyper behavior following sugar-fueled revelries.
4. People with diabetes have to give up chocolate
Chocolate does not need to be completely avoided by people with diabetes. In fact, many are often surprised to learn that chocolate has a low glycemic index. Recent studies suggest that dark chocolate may actually improve insulin sensitivity in people with normal and high blood pressure and improve endothelial dysfunction in people with diabetes. Of course, always check with your doctor before ripping open the candy's wrapper.
5. Chocolate causes tooth decay and cavities
A study investigating the development of plaque from chocolate found that chocolate has less of an effect on dental plaque than pure table sugar. Of course, most of us aren’t snacking on straight sugar, but another study backed it up when it showed no association between eating chocolate and getting cavities. In fact, a study from Osaka University in Japan found that parts of the cocoa bean, the main ingredient of chocolate, thwart mouth bacteria and tooth decay. Fighting cavities never tasted so good.
6. Chocolate makes you gain weight
Well, not necessarily. Obviously, monumental hot fudge sundaes aren’t going to do your waistline any favors, but a large study funded by the National Institutes of Health found this: Consuming a small amount of chocolate each of five days during a week was linked to a lower BMI, even if the person ate more calories overall and didn't exercise more than other participants. Hello, chocolate diet.
7. Eating sugar and chocolate can add to stress
A study found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed. (Aren't we all stressed in this season? Hello Chocolate!)
8. Chocolate lacks nutritional value
If you’ve seen any of the deluge of scientific studies touting the health benefits of chocolate, you know this is not true. But just how nutritious is chocolate? It has bona fide superfood status. A typical dark chocolate bar contains as much antioxidant capacity as 2 3/4 cups of green tea, 1 glass of red wine, or 2/3 cup of blueberries. In addition, chocolate also contains minerals and dietary fiber.
9. Chocolate must contain at least 70 percent cacao to be good for you
The general recommendation is to consume dark chocolate with a minimum of 70 percent cacao to reap the health benefits; in general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the antioxidant content. However, in one 18-week study, participants who ate a small amount of 50 percent cacao chocolate experienced a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. As well, another study showed short-term improvements in blood flow and blood pressure after consumption of a 60 percent cacao dark chocolate.
10. Chocolate is an aphrodisiac
The Aztecs may have been the first to believe in the connection between chocolate and amorous feelings — Montezuma is said to have consumed large amounts to enhance his romantic forays, and Casanova imbibed pre-seduction as well. But numerous studies have yet to find conclusive evidence that chocolate physically gets the fires burning. That said, chocolate is sensual to eat, lowers stress, and may have aphrodisiac qualities that are psychological in origin.
11. Chocolate causes acne
Although any teen will tell you that chocolate causes acne, studies going as far back as the 1960s have failed to show any relationship between chocolate consumption and acne. An extensive review in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that “diet plays no role in acne treatment in most patients … even large amounts of chocolate have not clinically exacerbated acne.”
The moral of the story is: Eat chocolate! Alas, eat it in moderation. An average 3-ounce bar of milk chocolate has 420 calories and 26 grams of fat, almost as much as a Big Mac — and that's a fact. (My advice is to shun Big Macs and, instead, have a chocolate snack!)
I hope Santa fills your stocking with lots of chocolate this year...I'm assuming you have been very good.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mistletoe's Color Legends

Kissing under the Mistletoe has been a custom I've observed for many years around Christmastime. I never knew until recently that the custom began with the druids in northern Europe.

"They believed mistletoe had curative powers and could heal lots of things, including separation between people. So when two enemies happened to meet under an oak tree with mistletoe hanging above them, they took it as a sign from God that they should drop their weapons and be reconciled. They would set aside their animosities and embrace each other under the mistletoe." This excerpt is from Christmas Gifts That Won't Break: An Advent Study for Adults by James W. Moore.

Another legend about mistletoe involves color.
"In pre-scientific Europe it was believed that mistletoe plants burst forth -- as if by magic -- from the excrement of the "mistel" (or "missel") thrush. According to Sara Williams at the University of Saskatchewan Extension, "It was observed in ancient times that mistletoe would often appear on a branch or twig where birds had left droppings. 'Mistel' is the Anglo-Saxon word for 'dung,' and 'tan' is the word for 'twig'. So, mistletoe means 'dung-on-a-twig'." Not exactly a word origin in keeping with the romantic reputation of mistletoe plants!

While belief in spontaneous generation has long been discredited, the word origin of "mistletoe" is not as fanciful as one might at first think. "By the sixteenth century," says Williams, "botanists had discovered that the mistletoe plant was spread by seeds which had passed through the digestive tract of birds." And folks had known for some time that the berry of mistletoe plants is a favorite treat of the mistel thrush. So while their reasoning was somewhat askew, the old-timers were justified, after all, in naming mistletoe plants after the bird most responsible for its dissemination.

As might be expected from a plant that has held people's fascination for so long, mistletoe plant has also carved out a niche of fame for itself in literary annals. Two of the better-known books of the Western tradition feature a particular mistletoe shrub prominently -- a mistletoe shrub given the pseudonym of "golden bough." And herein lies yet another twist in the tale of this remarkable plant.

In Virgil's Aeneid, perhaps the most famous book in classical Latin literature and one of the most famous poems of all time, the Roman hero, Aeneas, makes use of this "golden bough" at a critical juncture of the book. The "golden bough" was to be found on a special tree in the grove sacred to Diana, at Nemi; a tree containing a mistletoe plant. The prophetess Sibyl instructed Aeneas to pluck this magic bough before attempting his descent into the underworld. Sibyl knew that, with the aid of such magic, Aeneas would be able to undertake the perilous venture with confidence. Two doves guide Aeneas to the grove and alight upon the tree, "from which shone a flickering gleam of gold. As in the woods in the cold winter the mistletoe -- which puts out seed foreign to its tree -- stays green with fresh leaves and twines its yellow fruit about the boles; so the leafy gold seemed upon the shady oak, so this gold rustled in the gentle breeze." (Aeneid VI, 204-209).

The title of Sir James G. Frazer's anthropological classic, "The Golden Bough" (1922), derives from this very scene in Virgil's Aeneid. But just how, you might be asking, can something green like mistletoe plants become associated with the color gold? According to Frazer, mistletoe could become a "golden bough" because when the plants die and wither (even evergreens eventually die, of course), mistletoe plants acquire a golden hue. Fair enough. But once again, botany and folklore most likely must be mingled to arrive at the full explanation.

The perception of goldenness in the dried leaves of mistletoe plants was probably influenced by the fact that, in the folklore of Europe, it was thought that mistletoe plants in some cases are brought to earth when lightning strikes a tree in a blaze of gold. And a fitting arrival it would be, after all, for a plant whose home is half way between the heavens and the earth."

Enjoy those kisses under the mistletoe, just don't eat the berries because they are poisonous!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Emerald Green is Pantone's Choice for 2013

Let's hope that Pantone's announcement of Emerald Green as the color of 2013 is prophetic of good financial times on their way.


Pantone name emerald the colour of 2013

Pantone, the global authority on colour, announced emerald green as the colour of 2013.
BY Olivia Bergin |    
The Duchess of Cambridge in an emerald Mulberry dress in London in October, 2012
The Duchess of Cambridge in an emerald Mulberry dress in London in October, 2012 Photo: REUTERS
Every December, Pantone, the provider of professional colour standards to the design industries, announces its colour forecast for the following year.

Just look to the Duchess of Cambridge - who recycled a positively regal-hued emerald Mulberry dress for a public appointment at the Natural History Museum last week.

"The most abundant hue in nature, the human eye sees more green than any other colour" explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute of the shade, adding: "This powerful and universally-appealing tone translates easily to both fashion and home interiors."
But how is the annual colour determined and what does it mean in terms of fashion trends?

Pantone's Institute combs the world of entertainment to travel, sports events to new textile developments - looking for colour influences. The fashion world's adoption of green also plays a part: its recent rise on the red carpet and on the catwalks, and in men's sportswear knitwear and ties, add to Pantone's belief that emerald will "continue to make a statement beyond spring and summer into fall and winter."



Colors for Christmas

Elvis rocked out on Blue Christmas years ago, with romantic lyrics.

I'll have a blue Christmas without you
I'll be so blue just thinkin' about you.
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
won't be the same, dear, if you're not here with me.

And when those blue snowflakes start fallin',
that's when those blue memories start callin'.
You'll be doin' alright with your Christmas of white,
but I'll have a blue, blue, blue Christmas.

And, let's not forget his rendition of White Christmas

I'm dreamin' of a white Christmas
like the ones I used to know
where those treetops glisten and
children listen to hear sleighbells in the snow.

I'm dreamin' of a white Christmas
with every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright
and may all your Christmases be white.

If you decorate for Christmas, let me know what colors you use, I'd like to
report back what colors the majority of readers report. And, for incentive, the first one to respond will be receiving the Elvis Presley CD "It's Christmas Time."


Reindeer Jobs

Questions & Antlers

Q: How in the world can Santa’s reindeer make the grueling trek all the way around the globe, working through the night with only short rooftop breaks?

A: They’re females, that’s how they do it.

In most deer species only males grow antlers, but that’s not true for reindeer. And because most mature male reindeer shed their antlers in the winter, it’s safe to assume the antlered reindeer working their magic on Christmas Eve are female.

Q: Since reindeer are fairly large, averaging 4-5 feet in height at the shoulder, where did Santa come up with his tiny fleet?

A: Christmas reindeer are most likely a subspecies from the Svalbard Island off of Norway. Svalbards measure roughly half the size of other reindeer.
It is obvious the female pictured above has less antler weight than her male friend. However, in pictures of Santa and his reindeer helpers, the deer definitely have antlers. Now, about Rudolph...???

                          Rudolph,  keeping things merry and bright!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tacky Taste

Yoko Ono is in the headlines for her new fashions for men. Nearly 80, she still grabs the news headlines with her provocative designs.

"Yoko Ono has nearly done it all -- contemporary art, music, activism. But as she nears her 80th birthday, the widow of Beatle John Lennon is dabbling in something new: the fashion world.

This week in New York, Ono unveiled her first ready-to-wear collection -- an edgy unisex line called "Fashions for Men," based on sketches Ono first started in 1969 and gave to her husband as a wedding present that year.

The capsule collection includes apparel, footwear and accessories. One of the most provocative pieces is the "hand" wool suit, featuring a white handprint over the crotch of a pair of black trousers.

Bare shoulders peek out of paper-thin tight-fitting knit tops in pink or black. Tank tops and shirts are also provocative, with peekaboo holes.

"I was inspired to create 'Fashions for Men', amazed at how my man was looking so great. I felt it was a pity if we could not make clothes emphasizing his very sexy bod," Ono said in a statement.

"So, I made this whole series with love for his hot bod, and gave it to him as a wedding present."

More than 40 years after that wedding, and 32 years after Lennon's assassination, Ono was able to bring the collection to life thanks to Humberto Leon, the co-founder of uber-chic New York fashion emporium Opening Ceremony.

Leon said the idea first started to gel when the two met in Japan.

"We met about three years ago, at our opening in Tokyo. And when we met, she mentioned to me that she had done some drawings," Leon told AFP at the presentation of the collection.

"About a year and a half ago, we met and she showed it to me and together we said, 'Oh, why don't we make this come to life!'"

"We went as close as we could to what she had originally envisioned for John back then. It's exciting to see it all," Leon said.

Ono, wearing a double-stacked black top hat with whimsical puffy white bows and a black jacket revealing ample cleavage, signed copies of the book -- which includes some of her sketches -- published to mark the collection's debut.

The Tokyo-born artist -- raised in both Japan and the United States in a well-off family of bankers -- became a global icon when she married the rocker from Liverpool and really never left the limelight after Lennon's 1980 slaying.

Ono -- who was long accused of sparking the break-up of the Beatles, a claim she vehemently denies -- earned plaudits for her performance art and her work as a tireless campaigner for world peace.

Ever since her Montreal honeymoon with Lennon, during which the couple called for peace from their marital bed, Ono has pursued the fight. In 2002, she launched the "LennonOno" grant for peace in Iceland, given every two years.

She has also campaigned against world hunger and fracking.

At the fashion opening, her adoring fans have not lost an ounce of enthusiasm."

I am decorating a Christmas sweater to wear to a "Tacky Party." Thinking of tacky clothes, I have to give Ono credit for the tackiest I've seen yet.

What do you think?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Red's Significance in Les Miserables

With the blockbuster, Les Miserables, to open soon in theatres, the following article about the choice of red for key scenes makes perfect sense.


For 'Les Miz' and more, the color red makes a statement

It's a strong color. Costume designers tend to use it sparingly. But sometimes the situation just calls for it.


Les Miserables
In "Les Miserables," a sign of Fantine's (Anne Hathaway) fall is her red dress. (Laurie Sparham, Universal Pictures / November 29, 2012)

For most of "Les Misérables," things do not go well for Fantine. Abandoned by the father of her child, she goes on a long spiral down the economic ladder and winds up working in a brothel. And although she's always featured with a splash of color in the film, by the time she's selling her body there's only one color left for her to wear: red.
"In 'Les Misérables,' one thing [director Tom Hooper] wanted to have was color. Fantine always had to have reds and pinks in her outfit," says costume designer Paco Delgado. "I love to think in terms of color for characters and in moments of the movie. Color really connects with emotions that shape the psyche of the audience."
Color is naturally part of the decision-making process for costume designers, who must consult with production designers and the director to make sure whatever the actor wears in a given scene complements or contrasts with the scenery around them. But beneath that initial decision making, the ultimate color choice carries with it a lot of other meaning, meaning that usually just brushes past the audience the way foreshadowing does in a book. But when the color is red, everything goes out the window. Shown on an actress (or an actor), red makes a statement: This is an important moment, this character needs to come front and center.
"Red's a very attention-drawing color," says "Django Unchained" costume designer Sharen Davis. "You put a red outfit on the female lead, and she's usually going to be turning a corner or trying to be very sexy — it's a pivoting point where they're trying to be bold and aggressive."
Although Quentin Tarantino's "Django" itself isn't covered in red (outside of the blood), splashes do pop up — a burgundy suit, for example. Davis, who earned an Oscar nomination for her "Dreamgirls" work, notes, however, that when the lead actresses in that film stepped into a dream sequence, over to the bad side, they were in red beaded dresses. "It does have a meaning," she says. "But you use it sparingly."
Sparingly, primarily, because no one wants to jerk the audience out of the fantasy experience of the story and into the mechanics of how the strings are being pulled. Some directors don't shy from "on the nose" use of bold colors — Jacqueline Durran, costume designer for Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina," earned an Oscar nomination for her work with him on "Atonement" and recalls, "He specifically wanted Benedict Cumberbatch's character to wear yellow in that film ['Atonement'], because it is the color of cowardice."
But for the most part, it's about knowing the right time and place to deploy the red bomb. "You have to decide: Do you want it spot on?" asks Deborah Nadoolman Landis, former president of the Costume Designers Guild, now the director of the David C. Copley Center for Costume Design. "Is this costume going to sabotage the scene? Because if we're looking at the dress, we're not listening to what the actress is saying."
Color choice can be a tug of war between a costume designer who knows the power of red and a director who wants to pull it out for great effect — and gratuitous use of the color isn't necessarily the fault of the designer. Notes Landis, "Costume designers don't have the final decision on anything. The decider may have changed from producer to director over the years, but the costume designer has always been just one piece of the visual context of the frame."
"Certain directors — none that I worked for — that's their big idea and how they've always envisioned it and they have a crush on the leading lady and she has to be in red," says Mark Bridges, costume designer for "The Master" and "Silver Linings Playbook."
Fortunately that wasn't an issue in "The Master," where red is brought out in subtle, careful spots: The first time Philip Seymour Hoffman's title character is seen, he's in red patterned pajamas. "We did that to catch [Joaquin Phoenix's character] Freddy's attention," Bridges says. "We wanted to compel his mind."
In the occasional instance in which a director might be more demanding in his use for that red flag color, "Lincoln's" costume designer JoAnna Johnston suggests there are ways to get around it, like toning the brightness down. "You do sometimes hear directors saying, 'I see her in red,' because it's classically sexy and hot and all of those things, but what's interesting with red is when you drop the color around a little bit — a bit more orange, a bit more blue — then it can send out an entirely different signal."
In "Lincoln," the nearly overwhelming need for earth tones and black suits made red almost impossible, but Johnston found the right spot: as the character Elizabeth Blair (Julie White) is bundling her father into a carriage. "I gave her a very strong red shawl," she says. "I wanted her to have strength in that scene — she's quite fiery and strong and a modernist. That's the only time I felt it would be right to use it."
But for Johnston — who used red to great effect in highlighting the "clues" in "The Sixth Sense," prudency with red is warranted in any film; costume designers shouldn't fear being obvious: "Whether it's a sexy silk dress or a man in a red cloak, it's got drama, and people love seeing red. It may be a cliché sometimes, but that's good too."
No doubt about the power of red to convey drama. BBL

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The World's Most Famous Step-Father

The El Paso Museum of Art will host an exhibit dedicated to the world's most famous step-father.

Saint Joseph
December 2 – April 21, 2013
Dorrance and Olga Roderick Gallery: Retablo Niche
Anonymous, Mexico
Saint Josephand the Child Jesus, 18th Century
Oil on copper
Gift of Mrs. Dubois Tobin
Continuing its focused, thematic exhibitions from the retablos permanent collection the El Paso Museum of Art announces the exhibition Saint Joseph on view in the Roderick Retablo Niche Gallery from December 2nd, 2012 through April 21st, 2013. Known to many as Christ`s surrogate father, Saint Joseph has been historically depicted in art as a haloed or crowned member of the holy family. The seventeen retablos included in this exhibition examine the traditional iconography of color, costume and pose as well as the attributes with which the saint has been portrayed. Shown exclusively in close contact with the Christ child in several creative variations influenced by local traditions Saint Joseph`s role as Christ`s guardian is a recurring, significant feature.
This wonderful museum is located at One Arts Festival Plaza in El Paso. The phone number is:
Feliz Navidad!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Color from a Business Point of View

Color is one of those elements in our lives about which we think little ­— unless we are trying to buy a sweater to match a particular pair of slacks, or unless we are trying to choose paint from the thousands of chips available at our favorite home improvement store. Color is usually just there in our background. But color is more than just there when it comes to your business and how it can prompt consumer behavior. I once read that, like death and taxes, there is no escaping color. It is ubiquitous.
To better understand why color is such a powerful force in our lives, it will help to remember just what color is. In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton discovered that, when pure white light passes through a prism, it separates into all the visible colors. He then found that each color is comprised of a single wavelength and cannot be further separated into other colors. Additional experiments showed that light could, however, be combined to form other colors — i.e. red light mixed with yellow light creates an orange color. Thus, we got the color wheel with its three primary and three secondary colors.
Artists, designers and retailers have long realized the importance of color psychology to marketing. They know that color can dramatically affect moods, feelings, emotions and the perception of time. It is a powerful tool to communicate and persuade. It can even affect brand image. Think about IBM Blue, Coca Cola Red, Victoria Secret's Pink or Bloomingdale's Brown Bag. Even a woman's LBD (that's Little Black Dress) carries a certain image.
All business leaders have to be skilled in the art of persuasion. While there are many factors that influence how and what consumers will do, visual cues can be a strong motivator. And color can be a very strong motivator. So when renovating, remodeling, or rebuilding a space in your building, or the building itself, understanding the role that color can play in the outcome is critical to facility planning.
A caveat here: how a customer feels about a particular color can be deeply personal and often rooted in his or her own experience. For example, I don't like to be in a blue environment because every room in my childhood home was painted a shade of blue and had a blue-tiled floor or blue carpet. Even the garage walls and floor were painted tones of blue. I'd had all the blue I ever wanted by age 10! Colors also have different meanings in different cultures. While white is used in many western countries to represent purity and innocence, it is seen as a symbol of mourning in many eastern nations.
As you plan for your next update — whether it is just a coat of paint to spruce up the lobby or an extensive remodel that changes the building's footprint — put color at the top of your list of marketing tools for enhancing and inspiring customers. As a jumpstart, here is what researchers have generally found some colors to mean in the US.

  • Red is emotionally intense and stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It has been found to influence sports performance. One English study found that competitors in boxing, taekwondo, and wrestling who wore red were more likely to win their bouts during the 2004 Summer Olympics. Similarly, teams wearing red uniforms beat their opponents more often.

  • The color of water and the sky, blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, evoking peacefulness and tranquility. This is why it is particularly popular for bedrooms. Blue also denotes loyalty and trustworthiness, which is why it is often used in brand logos. Although it is well-liked, blue is not appetizing because blue food is rare in nature. Researchers say that when our ancestors searched for food, they learned to avoid toxic or spoiled objects, which were often blue, black or purple. They have also found that when food is dyed blue and served to study subjects, they lose their appetites. So, no blue in any eating space.

  • Cheerful yellow gets attention, which is why it is often used on "sale" signs in retail. In large doses, it can be hard for the eye to take in so it is often used in smaller doses or tempered. It enhances concentration, speeds metabolism and is optimistic. Yellow is a youthful color, making is a favorite for children's and teen's areas.

  • Green is a very popular decorating color because it symbolizes nature. It is the easiest on the eye, is refreshing, calming and has even been found to improve vision. People waiting to appear on TV sit in "green rooms" to relax, medical facilities will use green because it relaxes patients, and in the middle ages brides wore green to symbolize fertility. And, of course, for me, it means Spartans.
The color of royalty, purple, denotes luxury, wealth and sophistication and symbolizes good judgment. It is also the color of people seeking spiritual fulfillment. It is said if you surround yourself with purple you will have peace of mind. Purple is a good color to use in quiet rooms such as a reading room or library. The combination of red and blue, the warmest and coolest colors, purple is believed to be the ideal color, which may be why most children love it and is the color most favored by artists.

  • Orange is associated with the benign warmth of the sun and is said to increase the craving for food, making it a possible choice for eating areas – especially casual outdoor patios or snack bars or even employee break rooms. It also stimulates enthusiasm and creativity. Orange suggests a certain call to action. Lady luck's color is orange. In fact, I was once told that if a change of any kind is needed in life, just burn an orange candle for seven nights.

  • Black, of course, is the color of authority and power; it is also stylish and timeless. White is always popular in decorating because it is neutral and goes with everything, but it can be difficult to keep clean. And every tint, shade and tone of any color will subtly alter its impact on consumers' behaviors.
Whichever one you choose for any space, color will be one of your most powerful methods of facility design and of marketing. And if you are skeptical of this statement, just remember these findings from a consumer study by 93 percent place color/visual appearance above all when shopping and 85 percent place color as the primary reason to buy anything. These stats apply to your customers and your business too.

Bonnie J. Knutson, PhD is a professor at The School of Hospitality Business and Broad College of Business at Michigan State University.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Saturated Color

This exhibit is on my wish-I-could-go list because from the few pieces I have seen, it is color saturated. Enjoy the hues! Happy, healthy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Arts | Long Island

Color: Theme and Variations

A Review of ‘Absorbed by Color’ at the Heckscher Museum of Art

Collection of the Heckscher Museum of Art
REINVENTION “Approach to Provincetown” (1948), by De Hirsh Margules, is among the works in “Absorbed by Color: Art in the 20th Century” at the Heckscher Museum of Art.
Color has been studied, experimented with and theorized about for millenniums by writers and painters from ancient Persia to modern Los Angeles. But it reached a new level of cultural saturation in the 20th century, with the release by DuPont of an annual Automotive Color Popularity Report, the appearance of fluorescent paints like Day-Glo, and abstract painters’ becoming specialists in the effects of color.


Collection of the Heckscher Museum of Art
Robert Richenburg’s “Flicker” (1949).
Collection of the Heckscher Museum of Art
Nicolas Carone’s “Untitled,” circa the 1950s.
Collection of the Heckscher Museum of Art
“Untitled,” undated, by James Henry Daugherty.
“Absorbed by Color: Art in the 20th Century” at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, N.Y., is thus a wildly ambitious show: a tour of color in 20th-century painting mounted in two galleries of modest size. Sometimes, however, the abridged version of a subject can be reassuringly manageable — particularly compared to the much larger 2008 exhibition “Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which examined how postwar industrial color and art have become intertwined.
What also makes “Absorbed by Color” interesting is its limitations: it is not a showcase for the greatest hits of color, lacking an example from Picasso’s Blue Period, for instance, or a Mark Rothko Color Field painting; the show is drawn exclusively from the museum’s collection, which leans toward American 20th-century art, and many of the works here are by lesser-known or overlooked artists.
That is not to say that major practitioners are completely absent. Josef Albers, one of the most important color theorists of the 20th century, is represented by “Coastal” (1948-54), a rectangular oil-on-hardboard composition, and “Red-Orange Wall” (1959), an ochre-hued silk-screen. Albers was born in Germany and taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar and later at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Retooling the progressive Bauhaus curriculum for American students, he taught a famed course in color theory at Yale, and wrote a landmark book, “Interaction of Color” (1963), which treated color in terms of relationships, or “interactions.”
The two works here by Albers differ from his best-known project, “Homage to the Square” (1949-76), in that they include more geometric shapes and planes of color than his elemental squares. Yet both works demonstrate the basic attributes of Albers’s theory, that colors essentially “deceive” (that is, they look different alone than when juxtaposed) and are experienced uniquely by each viewer. “Coastal” also displays Albers’s method of showcasing “pure” color, applied directly from the tube onto humble hardboard, rather than mixed with other colors and applied to canvas.
Earlier examples and approaches to color are present as well. George Biddle (1885-1973) was an American who studied in Philadelphia and Paris, where, according to a wall text, he fell “under the spell” of a fellow Philadelphian, Mary Cassatt; he said, “Through her eyes I was influenced by Degas.” His “Landscape/Cuba” (1925) shows this French Impressionist influence — but also that of Pointillists like Georges Seurat, who drew on the color theories of the chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul and the painting techniques of Diego Rivera, whom Mr. Biddle met during his travels in Mexico.
“Approach to Provincetown” (1948), a canvas by De Hirsh Margules (1899-1965), looks, with its riot of color, like a very late version of Fauvism, the early-20th-century tendency exemplified by Henri Matisse. Mr. Margules was primarily concerned with what he called the “time perspective” of painting, however, in which color suggests movement or time. The wall text relates this to the theories of thinkers like Henri Bergson and Albert Einstein.
Another huge influence on 20th-century painting was the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, and even though his palette was eventually whittled down to primary colors — red, yellow and blue — and his compositions to spare geometric forms, his approach proved extraordinarily fruitful for younger painters. Robert Richenburg’s “Flicker” (1949), a composition of color-dots on canvas, hanging at the entrance to the exhibition, bears a resemblance to Mondrian’s “Broadway Boogie Woogie” (1942-43) at MoMA. Ilya Bolotowsky’s painting “Untitled” from around 1977 adopts the diamond-lozenge shape that Mondrian pioneered — but with darker, more saturated colors.       
One of the more questionable moves on the part of the curators was to divide the latter half of the exhibition into sections based on the color wheel, with works arranged by red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple hues. It is, of course, a rather child-friendly way to organize and explain the concept of color, and it reflects the dire need for museums to speak to the largest possible audience. (Personally,I love this idea, very innovative-BL)      
For those steeped in art, however, like critics — and particularly the painters themselves — it feels like a travesty to see Albers’s work classified among the yellows and Brodsky’s among the blues. Painting, after all — and particularly the lineage to which these works belong — is more sophisticated than that.
“Absorbed by Color: Art in the 20th Century” is at the Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Avenue, Huntington, through Dec. 2. Information: (631) 351-3250 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (631) 351-3250 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Grateful for Colors

Thanksgiving: One of the things on my thankful list is COLOR. I cannot imagine the world without it. Celebrate warmly with those you love. Happy Thanksgiving; the following article, which I like and want to share, shows a good attitude toward the fallen leaves.

Nature gives us colors to be thankful for
  • The Wichita Eagle


Thanksgiving is as early as it can be this year. I’m keeping Thanksgiving in my heart right now, mainly through the colors of the landscape.
Fortunately, some leaves still remain on the trees and shrubs, most of them the colors of Thanksgiving – mashed-potatoes-and-gravy colors, the colors of brown construction-paper turkeys and pilgrim clothes, with a dab of cranberry relish here and there on the plate.
When Thanksgiving looms, dim golds and blah browns do not bore me. They console me.
My favorite part of Thanksgiving Day is a walk in the country. Failing that (virtually every year), the next best thing is a walk in the neighborhood. If that doesn’t happen, watching football from the couch works (funny how fast we fall under the influence of tryptophan and starch).
In that last case, I’ll get up occasionally to stretch my legs and gaze longingly out the windows. If they’re not on the trees the leaves are covering the ground.

 When visiting my sister’s house last weekend, I looked out her back glass doors in wonderment at the papery yellow and brown leaves carpeting her deck. “Oh!” she breathed. “Don’t you love it?”
This is a woman who doesn’t want anyone sweeping the deck or raking the yard. She loves the landscape drowned in leaves. (This sister has an artist's soul)

Apart from the barrier that deep leaves put between rain and the grass – and from the grumbling of neighbors who try to keep up with leaf fall – I have to love my sister’s love of leaves, especially when so many people consider them a nuisance. It is nice to have a new carpet cover for the fall, courtesy of nature, just as it is anytime it snows in the winter.

If you still have some leaves hanging around that have some color in them, you may want to gather a bouquet of them for a vase or to tie together with a ribbon for a splash of natural color for your Thanksgiving place settings. I got this idea from a rare glimpse into Better Homes and Gardens.

I love to look for even more Thanksgiving color at garden centers, shopping for deciduous shrubs that still have Thanksgiving leaves clinging to them – serviceberries, barberries, chokeberries, oakleaf hydrangeas, sweetspires.
Even if the brown and gold leaves aren’t destined to last much longer into the season, they’re precious additions to the garden now. My favorite centerpieces are in the yard.

Read more here:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Plant Color Now

leaves art.JPGPhoto illustration by Christa Lemsak / The Post-Standard / Thinkstock

An afternoon spent digging and planting bulbs now will yield weeks of color next spring.
Crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths, snowdrops and tulips, among others, require a long period of cool temperatures to spark the biochemical process that causes them to flower in spring.
"You have to be a planner and a dreamer and picture it months from now and get it done," said Lisa Ballantyne, master gardener and co-owner of Ballantyne Gardens, 4825 Hopkins Road, Salina.
"I can't tell you the number of people who come in in May and want to buy tulip bulbs."
The earlier you plant, the better root systems the plants will have, Ballantyne said. If we have another winter like last year, with little snow cover, plants with good root systems will have a better chance of surviving heaving, as the water in the soil thaws and freezes.
A thick layer of mulch will also help. "We never know what kind of winter we're going to end up with," she said.
Ballantyne shared tips for planting and designing with bulbs:

Size matters.
"The better garden centers have larger, higher grade bulbs," she said. "The bigger the bulb, the better result you'll get."
Bulbs are graded by size, with the largest and highest quality labeled "top size."
Look for bulbs that are firm and blemish-free, not dry or moldy.

"Pick bulbs as you would fresh fruit in the grocery store," she said.


Earlier is better.
"There's not a great deal of difference in brands. It's more about the grade and how they're packaged," she said.
A bag of bulbs sitting in the middle of a giant pile is more likely to be moldy or unhealthy.

"Bulbs are like potatoes if they're sitting too long," she said. "Hopefully, the bulbs were packaged real dry and stored so they are kept dry."

Depth is key.
"Different bulbs are planted at different depths. A good package will tell you that. Some distributors go to a lot of trouble to put really good information on the package.

Planting at the right depth is more important than planting at the right time," she said.


Look at bloom time.
People "make the mistake of planting 400 bulbs of varying types and never have it look like a big show," she said.
Bulbs should be labeled whether they are early, mid- or late-season bloomers.

"If you want a big show, match the bloom times, and plant a big enough mass of each time," she said. "If you spread it too much, it doesn't ever look showy and full. For the most dramatic display, plant one mass of the same variety and it looks great. You can mix colors and variety, but keep bloom times the same."

Mix and match.
If you don't have space or don't want to plant bulbs in a mass, mix and match them with perennials and annuals. Plant bulbs in groupings, rather than in mass.
grass art.JPG
"For a more casual garden, mix bulbs in with perennials. Small daffodils mixed with forget-me-not and primrose are beautiful," she said.
Mix daffodils and daylilies. "As one poops out, the other perks up.
"You can marry bulbs with perennials and annuals pretty smoothly," she said.
Plants with shallower root systems can be planted on top of bulbs, which generally are planted 4 to 6 inches deep. If you do plant on top of bulbs, "I would just do some extra fertilizers, since they'll be competing for water and food."
Bulbs can by planted with hostas, which "can take up a fair amount of space. If you're putting in a new bed, space accordingly, and plant for bulbs being that far away."

Mix daffodils and large cup jonquils. "You can mix those up, and it looks very pretty, with the shades of yellow and white."

Peaceful co-existence.
"If you live in an area without a deer problem, tulips are still a good idea. Otherwise, plant daffodils, hyacinths and allium, which deer don't care for. They won't eat smaller tulips," she said.
"More and more we're making sure we have deer-resistant varieties. That's one thing we've trending toward."
People also battle squirrels, who love to dig up just-planted bulbs.
But like deer, squirrels leave alliums, a member of the onion family, and hyacinths, which have a natural irritant, alone.
"We've got a repellent you can spray the bulbs with, but nothing lasts forever," she said.

"It's my experience that where you've disturbed the soil, they'll dig it back up. So pack the soil in real well and water well."

Everywhere and often.
"Make sure everything is deep-watered the day you pack up your hose for the winter, so plants will be well hydrated for the winter," she said.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Monet's Birthday

Monet painting, by Auguste Renoir

Monet was born in Paris on 14 November 1840 and died at his home in Giverny, outside Paris, on 5 December 1926. In 1874 his painting Impression Sunrise, gave the name to the art movement Impressionism.
Monet studied art in Paris, first at the Academie Suisse (in 1859), then after two years of military service in Algeria at the atelier of Charles Gleyre, where he met artists who would become fellow Impressionists: Renoir, Sisley, and Bazille.
Monet exhibited at the official Paris Salon for the first time in 1865 (two seascapes of the Seine estuary), and several times thereafter. In 1874 Monet exhibited in a group show of artists who'd been rejected by the salon. The art critic Louis Leroy titled his review of the show The Exhibition of the Impressionists, after Monet's painting called Impression: Sunrise (now in the collection of the Musée Marmottan in Paris).
Monet was primarily a painter of landscapes, fascinated by the effect of light and the way it changed during the day. He used a painting technique known as broken color, and with visible brushmarks (rather than eliminating them). He worked both plein air and in his studio. In the 1890s Monet started working on series paintings, painting the same subject at different times and seasons. Subjects for his series paintings included haystacks, Rouen Cathedral, and the lily pond he created in his garden at Giverny.

Monet married twice, and that is a story in itself which I may blog about later. Meanwhile, I wanted to honor him in his birthday week. He is a pioneer in the world of art and was persistent in his pursuit of capturing his impression of landscapes.

Monet's palette. I was fortunate to visit Giverny and saw his glorious studio, every artist's dream.