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.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How Birds Get Their Eye Color

Eye colors of birds surpass what is possible for humans, and James Currie takes us on another color adventure below.

 As humans we place exceptional value in the beauty of an individual’s eyes. Most of us will have heard the saying, “Eyes are the windows to the soul”. But besides the cosmetic value, the color of our eyes provides little other benefit to our lives. I have been wondering if it is the same with birds.
Many birds have exceptional color but their eyes can be colorful too – Andean Cock-of-the-rock.
Eye color is even more varied in birds than it is in humans. For example, you don’t hear of people with red eyes.  Eye color in birds can vary from black to brown to red to orange to yellow to blue to green to white and many colors in between. The color of a bird’s eye, as in the color of a bird’s feather, can be caused by both pigments and refraction of light. In fact, many birds exhibit more pigment coloration in their eyes than humans (for the scientifically-minded these pigments are called pteridines, purines and carotenoids).
Eyes are often the first thing one notices – as in this Pearl-spotted Owlet
The actual benefits of eye color in birds, as in humans, appears to be mostly limited to the cosmetic, although its quite possible that certain eye colors are more sensitive to certain light conditions. In humans, many babies are born with blue eyes, only for their eye color to gradually change from blue to green or from blue to green and then to brown. Likewise in birds, eye color can be an indication of age. And this is often a great tool for identifying a young bird in the field. But a fundamental difference between eye color in birds and humans is that for quite a number of birds, eye color actually changes according to the breeding season. For example, the iris of the Brown Pelican becomes a stunning blue color during the breeding season. Its probably a good thing that this doesn’t happen in humans.
This baby Purple Gallinule will eventually assume the bright red eyes of the adult below
Changes in eye color that are dictated by age and by breeding season are likely to be under some form of hormonal control. Age-dictated color changes are found in a wide variety of birds including raptors, woodpeckers, grebes, thrushes, ducks, gulls, loons and vireos. In many birds that require long periods between juvenile and adult plumage there is a gradient of color change. For example, a first cycle Western Gull has dark brown, almost black, eyes. Some Western Gulls begin to show paler, lighter brown eyes in their second cycle. In their third cycle many individuals begin to display olive-green eyes. And by their fourth and adult cycles, most Western Gulls display the pale greenish-white eyes that they are known for (refer to Steve Howell and Jon Dunn’s book Gulls of the Americas for great info on gull ID).
This juvenile White Ibis will need to wait a while until it gets the beautiful blue eyes of the adult below
Another example of a dramatic age-related color gradient change can be found in the bright yellow to red eye color changes in Sharp-shinned Hawks. Exactly what purposes these color changes serve is uncertain and it could be that, as in human babies, there is no benefit or purpose for these changes whatsoever. But, could it be that these eye color changes help certain bird species to establish the maturity of potential mates? Now there’s a thesis topic for a Cornell graduate student if it hasn’t been done already!
The most obvious difference between eye color in birds and humans is the fact that in certain species of birds, males and females have radically different eye colors. For example male Saddle-billed Storks have dark brown, almost black eyes, and females have bright yellow eyes.
A male Saddle-billed Stork has dark brown eyes
In contrast the bright yellow eyes of the female can be seen at quite a distance
Similar examples exist amongst North American birds. Female Boat-tailed Grackles and Brewer’s Blackbirds have dark eyes whereas the males have bright pale yellowish/greenish-white eyes.
A brightly colored iris in a bird could signify various things. It could function as a “badge”, distinguishing between different age classes. It could advertise sex during the breeding season. It could even help to differentiate between the sexes year-round. The possibility exists that iris color is helpful to birds that live predominantly in certain light conditions. Or it could simply be that the coloration is caused by the chemical make-up of the eye, with little to know function at all. Whatever the reasons for eye color in birds, it makes for a fascinating macro-study of our favorite avian subjects.
I hope James continues to research and photograph birds plus share his fascinating information with those of us who will probably not experience seeing these colorful creatures ourselves.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How Do Birds Get Their Color?

Some of the brightest colored animals on our planet are birds. The photographs and comments following will reveal how birds get their colors. The guest author is James Currie.

About the Author


A life-long birder and native of South Africa, James Currie has many years experience in the birding and wildlife tourism arenas. James has led professional wildlife and birding tours for 15 years and his passion for birding and remote cultures has taken him to far corners of the earth from the Amazon and Australia to Africa and Madagascar. He is also an expert in the field of sustainable development and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in African Languages and a Masters degree in Sustainable Environmental Management. From 2004-2007 James worked as the Managing Director of Africa Foundation, a non-profit organization that directs its efforts towards the uplifting of communities surrounding wildlife areas in Africa. James is currently the host and owner of Nikon's Birding Adventures TV and he resides in West Palm Beach, Florida.

How do Birds get their Color?

Birds have captivated us for time eternal, not only because of their ability to fly, but also because of the color they add to our lives. Okay, let me be clear that I’m not suggesting that ALL birds are colorful. Birds like Plain Chachalacas and Grey Catbirds hardly evoke images of stunning beauty. But a vast number of species DO exhibit dazzling displays of color. And these displays are not always what they might seem.
A Lilac-breasted Roller shows off
Have you ever wondered why grackles look iridescent blue in good light and black in bad light? Or why the colorful gorgets of male hummingbirds appear and then disappear without warning? This is because color in birds is not a simple thing. But rather it is a complex concoction of some very specific recipes. There are two main ingredients that are essential in the making of color. The first is pigment and the second is keratin. And the ways in which these two fundamental ingredients are added to the color cooking pot are what produces the final colors that we see.
Pigments are relatively simple color makers. There are three main pigments that give feathers their colors. The first pigment is called melanin and it produces black or dark brown coloration. Melanin is also very strong and is thus often reserved for the flight feathers. White feathers are caused by a lack of pigmentation and are much weaker than black feathers due to the lack of melanin. This might explain why many predominantly-white bird species have entirely black or black-tipped feathers in their wings. These feathers are exposed to the greatest wear and are required to be stronger than regular feathers.
This Pied Kingfisher exhibits melanin pigmentation (black) and lack of pigmentation (white)
The second group of pigments are called carotenoids and they produce red, orange or yellow feathers. Carotenoids are produced by plants. When birds ingest either plant matter or something that has eaten a plant, they also ingest the carotenoids that produce the colors in their feathers. The pink color of flamingoes, for example, is derived from carotenoids found in the crustaceans and algae that the birds sieve from the water.
The red in this Scarlet Tanager is produced by carotenoid pigments – and the black color, by melanin
The third group of pigments are called porphyrins and these are essentially modified amino acids. Porphyrins can produce red, brown, pink and green colors. This pigment group is the rarest of the three pigment groups and is found in only a handful of bird families. The best-known example of porphyrins is the red pigment (often called turacin) that is found in many turaco species and turacoverdin, the green pigment found in many of the same turaco species.
Ruspoli’s Turaco by Matthew Matthiessen
Mixtures of pigments can also produce different and unusual color hues and shades. For example, the dull olive-green colors of certain forest birds is actually a mixture of yellow carotenoid pigments and dark-brown melanin pigments.
Then we get to the second main ingredient that produces color: keratin. Keratin is the tough protein of which feathers are made. It also covers birds’ bills, feet and legs. Keratin is responsible for the iridescent coloring of many spectacular bird species. How keratin produces color is a rather complex process but, from what I’ve read on the subject, I shall attempt to simplify it as follows. Keratin produces color in two main ways: by layering and by scattering.
Layering colors are produced when translucent keratin reflects short wave-lengths of colors like blues, violets, purples and greens. The other colors are absorbed by an underlying melanin (black) layer. The ways in which the keratin of the feathers are layered will dictate the color of the iridescence. Examples of layered coloring include the iridescence of glossy starlings and the speculums or wing patches of many duck species.
Scattering is produced when the keratin of feathers is interspersed with tiny air pockets within the structure of the feathers themselves. These air pockets and the interspersed keratin scatter blue and green light and produce the shimmering colors of birds like kingfishers, rollers and bee-eaters. The magnificence of some of these scattered colors is wonderfully exhibited in Adam Riley’s post on the “Bee-eaters of Africa”.
The blue vents and green backs of these White-fronted Bee-eaters are caused by blue and green scattering
And like any really good dish, there are times when several ingredients need to be mixed together to produce a really good recipe. And both keratin and pigments can be combined to produce certain colors. The greens of many parrot species are caused by blue scattered light (produced by keratin) interacting with yellow carotenoids (produced by pigments in the feathers). Grey feathers are produced by the combination of scattered white light and melanin pigments.
Learning a little about how color is produced in birds now presents me with an entirely new birding challenge when out in the field: figuring out the various color recipes that birds employ to dazzle!

James' next post will cover how birds get their eye color.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Color Terms

15 Color Terms

Words describing the qualities of color can confuse because they sometimes but not always overlap or are even interchangeable. Here’s a roster of color terms with definitions.

1. Cast: a change in appearance or color by adding one color over another; also, multiple senses of assigning, depositing, directing, shaping, spreading, turning, or twisting
2. Chroma: a combination of hue and saturation (see definitions below), or synonymous with saturation
3. Chromaticity: the quality of color based on wavelength and purity
4. Coloration: the condition of coloring, as in skin tone, an arrangement of colors, or the choice or use of colors
5. Colorway: a color or arrangement of colors
6. Contrast: the degree of difference in colors or light and dark, or their juxtaposition
7. Hue: color, gradation of color, or the characteristic that distinguishes one color from another
8. Pigmentation: coloration caused by the presence of a pigment, a substance that produces a color (or black and white) in a material
9. Saturation: purity of color; also, the state of being thoroughly wet, or heavy infiltration
10. Shade: a color produced by a mixture that includes black dye or pigment, or a color somewhat distinct from another, or, as a verb, to produce such a color; also, various meanings associated with the blocking or minimizing of light
11. Tincture: synonymous with color; also, a trace in a mixture
12. Tinge: color spread or stained over another color, or, as a verb, to spread or stain one color over another; also, a figurative sense of a light touch or effect, or, as a verb, to touch or effect lightly
13. Tint: a pale or slight coloration, or lighter or darker variations of a color, or, as a verb, to produce such an effect; also, a slight difference, or hair dye
14. Tone: a quality of color, or a shade, tint, or value (see definitions)
15. Value: the lightness or darkness of a color, or the difference in lightness and darkness

Monday, November 5, 2012

Body Coloring

'black images (color studies)' by olaf breuning

Swiss artist olaf breuning is well known for his eclectic range of artwork - with the 'color studies' body art the beginning of a long-term investigation.
with the human form as a canvas, the work began with an inquiry into four colors - blue, red, yellow and green - against a stark black background,
an outcome of an experiment to see how the hues would react against a dark or white backdrop. this resulted in a striking series of vividly bold pieces,
evocative of work by pollock or jasper johns.

the opus evolved to his 'marylin' series, where Breuning loosely clones the iconic features of the classic starlet marilyn monroe - again using bright, prominent painted features against an inky canvas. straying from the four-color-scheme but maintaining the same salient approach,
Breuning manages to harness his chosen medium as the silver-tongued language for his artwork. The collection acutely encompasses
Breuning's interrogation of color - generating refreshing pieces infused with abstract wit and personality.

with the human form as a canvas, the artist originally focused on four colors - blue, red, yellow and green

the work was an outcome of experimenting to see how the colors would react against a dark or white backdrop

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Can Color Get You What You Want?

Gina Gadston from Houston had an interesting column regarding getting what you want via color. She interviewed  Shah for the information. I am not sure of Shah's credentials, whether color psychologist or a political advisor. Let me know if you found success trying any of her suggestions. The one about car sales got my attention.

"A successful image visually communicates your message," Shah said.
Shah says the key is to wear the right color at the right time.
"Color can activate different emotions and behaviors in people," she said.
For example, during the first presidential debate, President Barrack Obama wore a navy blue suit with a blue and white tie.
"The color blue communicates steadiness, dependability, trustworthiness," Shah said.
Shah believes it was meant to convey a message of "trust me" and "stay with me for another term."
Gov. Mitt Romney went with a red tie.
"Red physically increases the heart rate and increases respiration," Shah said.
Shah says red may have been meant to depict Romney's competitive spirit, and a message that he's ready to fight for the new job.
So how can you use color to your advantage in everyday situations?
With job interviews, Shah says a good choice is orange.
"Orange can really help you by helping your interviewer see you as part of the team already," she said.
The color orange symbolizes unity and bringing people together.
When it comes to making a big purchase, going green could help in your negotiations.
"If you're out buying a car, chances are if you're wearing green, the business deal is going to go smoother, and it's going to go in your favor," Shah said.
Shah says green brings harmony between both negotiating parties and could help you get what you want.
Want to impress a first date? Pull out something red!
"It will make you feel more romantic. It will increase your appetite. So it's really a great color to bring two people together," Shah said.

Joan Crawford ready for her wedding in the movie, The Bride Wore Red.

And when it's time to meet the parents, blue is best.
"'Cause you're going to seem more trustworthy, more safe. And this is what you want your girlfriend's parents to feel about you," Shah said.
So before you leave the house in the morning, think about what you're wearing. The colors could help to make or break your day."