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Immersing yourself in color can teach you about yourself

Updated: Feb 6, 2022

I love color. Love it. Lots of it. I love decorating with bright colors. I seek out art that is full of colors and life. I think better when I can see a rainbow of hues around me. I have painted living rooms bright green and deep yellow, bedrooms mulberry and red. I once had a completely orange and yellow bathroom - ceiling to floor (that one may have been overkill...). Surrounded by color I feel at home. Alive.

Research shows that different colors enhance different traits in people. Green is linked to greater creativity, while red helps attention to detail. These studies are helpful and important, but they are not what I am talking about here. I am talking about visceral reactions to color. How you feel or react when spending quality time with one, two, or a whole rainbow of colors.

What is your relationship to color? Do you like bright, fun pillows or muted accents in your home? Do you dress in a variety of colors or all in black? Are there some colors that soothe you or inspire you?

My own daily creative practice centers around color. Most often I use my markers to draw something abstract in my journal. I often use all the colors, sometimes deliberately making sure I have used each marker before I allow myself to choose one for a second time. Sometimes though, I find myself only using blues and greens, or some other narrow palette. When that happens, I get curious. What is happening in my body? My energy? My emotional center? My color choices notify me that something is shifting. It's like a little signal that I need to pay attention.

You can find your own connection to color by actively paying closer attention to when and where it shows up in your life. Start by spending a day immersing yourself in color. Take a walk and find some vibrant flowers or a brightly painted house. Or pull an art book off your shelf and find a piece that is outrageously bright. Ransack your closets for a long-forgotten orange t-shirt and bright green skirt. If you have markers, or pencils, or paints, grab some paper and go to town. Use every color in the box. Or create broad swaths of one or two deep colors. Play. Have fun.

Sit with the colors as you encounter them. How do they make you feel? Does purple evoke something different from yellow? Which colors are you drawn to? If you had to pick a bright color to paint your living room, what would you choose? Notice your body, your feelings, your energy level. Jot down your insights in a journal.

Spend the next few days playing with color. Looking at it, creating with it, noticing it all around you, wearing it. Try to add a new color to your environment every day and notice how it affects your mood or emotional makeup.

And then flip your practice. Notice what colors you are drawn to on days when your energy is higher or lower or you are feeling a particular emotion more strongly. How do your moods affect your color choices and how do your color choices affect your moods?Again, use a journal or notebook to record all of your observations.

As you get more comfortable actively noticing your relationship with colors, you will begin to see patterns that deepen your understanding of your emotional rhythms and reactions. You can choose to use this information to pick paint colors, or choose new clothes, or you can just enjoy your newfound information, knowing that all self-knowledge moves you forward on your journey. Let me know what colors you connect with as you delve into your explorations. I'd love to hear!

I'd love to have you join my email list! Each week I send out a short creative newsletter, with creativity tools, inspiration, stories, and research. And you will also be the first to know about upcoming workshops and events. And for joining, I'll send you my Creative Practice Toolkit, a guide to helping you start a creative practice and stick with it. You can sign up here.

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