One Little Thing

News to me, primary colors have been redefined. Is it a debate or simply that more about color is known?
At any rate, it turns out that the original color wheel is still used when mixing colors for painting in oils or acrylics.
Wavelengths and spectrum aside, early in my career of planning rooms and spaces for stores and clients, what I knew was red, yellow and blue and that if you mixed those in different proportions and with each other in various assorted ways, you could get any color in the world — at least I thought.
I loved everything about trying to understand color and couldn’t wait for any chance to have another try at mixing and coordinating things in ways that would please someone enough to inspire them to spend some of their hard-earned money so that a commission would result.
For a month or so on my first job designing vignettes for a showroom, I followed someone else around getting used to things. She had a lot of confidence, which, by the way, I did not — at least not right away.
I was nervous and unsure of my skills. I had no real formal training. I had started a home study course (yes,that was a thing way back then), after coming back from a summer scholarship trip to the Academy of Art in San Francisco and those two things were enough to get that job.
A little talent in drawing and painting and a passion for it all was enough to buoy confidence for giving a decent interview. The manager was impressed with those credentials and gave me a shot.
I buckled a little under the weight of my anxiety but managed to pull through with a little more practice and watching others more confident than I for the time that it took to get better at it.
Practice, practice, practice.
That was in the 70s and at that time there was a very wide array of styles to choose from — one of them was Modern.
The store I worked for had a set of modular pieces that could be arranged almost any way you could imagine them and they were the brightest shade of yellow textured vinyl. They were low slung and not something an older person could easily get out of. They had somewhat carved out seats and almost fit like a glove when sitting in them.
The young woman I was following around learning from was working on changing some things out in that vignette when I first fell in love with red, blue and yellow together as an interior decorating color scheme.
What she did that seemed like magic to me then was that, to top it all off, she hung a translucent acrylic screen, (called a room divider at the time — a big one — four or five feet by five or six), from chains hung on movable sliding brackets fixed to dropped acoustic ceiling panel rails. It was an aqua color. Everything else in the vignette was pure primary — as far as I knew primaries at the time.
That additional color changed things in a way I never would forget. One little thing made all the difference. The fact that it was see-through was of value too — it made things sparkle.
No doubt there were other bits and bobs placed all around to pull it all together — but I don’t remember anything except the solid red, blue and yellow and that translucent aqua. I went back to stare at it every chance I got and just loved how it made me feel.
So funny the things we choose to remember.
What was so special about that?
I think now that it was because it simply helped me to realize that something so slight can have such a big, dynamic impact.
I didn’t know how that young woman knew to do that and that impressed me too. To me it spoke of bravery and confidence — and, possibly, subliminally, the value of more education — which she likely had. At that point, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. That simple little thing made it clear that there was learning in every nook and cranny to be discovered turning any corner and that watching others do a thing could reveal those things I didn’t know I didn’t know.
And, there is always a chance that you can be amazed.
I find it funny that all these years later, I still gravitate and have been making my way back to those simple primary colors with little twitches that result in pleasing eye movement. The more I pare things in my own home, the more I see red, blue and yellow coming to the surface — they’ve been hiding in plain sight from that love affair so long ago.
The things we’ve built our live around, seem to stay with us all the way.
That’s a very comforting thought.
To say the least.

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