Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Iris and I Might Not see Eye to Eye


It's a cute idea.  It certainly gives a rational for choosing to dress in a flambouyant way and it's true that Iris does not dress like everyone else, though what comes to mind when I see her is usually something along the lines of senior citizen clown school.  Ouch!  You say.  Shawna you are letting out your inner bitch, finally.  I disagree.  My inner bitch is not nearly that objective.  I'm not a big fan of clowns, and I do not admire Iris' outfits because I would actually want to wear them myself.  I do think that she has just as much right to look gaudy and tacky as I do to look frumpy and boring.  That is an idea I will certainly get behind.  Her spirit is delightful and if you see her coming you do get a sense of what you are about to encounter.  But what I admire most about Iris is that fact that she says things, things she believes in, her opinions, states them like they are facts and nobody seems to mind.  I wonder if dressing like that helps.  Can she be written off by anyone offended by what she says as just a silly old eccentric and is being thought a silly old eccentric better or worse than being written off as a miserly middle-aged frump?

I would like to live in a world where what we wear didn't matter and didn't lead people to judge us but that world doesn't exist.  So, the only option left is not to care.  One of my favourite artists, Paul Cezanne, was apparently quite disheveled, filthy and smelly.  We assume he didn't care.  I suggest perhaps he was guarding his own personal bubble with this effective strategy.   I doubt I could go this far, as I do generally like to be clean, but I have a perhaps perverse admiration for this insistence on freely being oneself and tend to admire the grubby more than the thoughtfully decorated.  Or at least I think I do.  I've not tested that by accumulating any grubby friends and I've not tested my friends with my own grubiness either.

Getting back to Iris.  The image and quote above comes from a Harper's Bazaar article featuring many such quotes.   I don't have to agree with everything Iris says to find her interesting and appealing and in fact it's likely I'd be disinterested if I agreed with everything.  Nobody is asking me for my words of wisdom for publishing in any magazines so I just have to find the words of others I connect with and be content with that.  I like many comments and ideas identified with Iris but I dislike the one above  and I dislike this one:  "Life is too short to wear beige."    I've seen this one attributed to Iris though can't currently find it along with a photo.  Poor beige. There is a time and a place for beige, and whether or not beige is appealing is only a matter of personal opinion, Iris' opinion being that it is dreary.  While such comments are uplifting to the beige haters of the world, they are potentially offensive to beige admirers such as myself.  So, yes, I dislike this comment and that is exactly why I am so glad she said it.  If she paused to wonder how many beige admirers she might offend before she summarily dismissed beige as bland, and I suspect she did not pause, the possibility of causing offense did not bother her.  I, on the other hand, would have bitten my tongue. I would have worried about the poor beige lovers who I am sure are very lovely people and look very nice wearing beige, and I would have thought to myself, oh no I should not express my own preferences by putting down another preference.  It gets a bit tedious having such polite and considerate thoughts all of the time.

Now it is possible that Iris' words were isolated for their dramatic effect and that she actually said, 'Some people look lovely in beige but for me, life is too short to wear it.'  That sounds more like something I would say though and part of me envies this inability to have worried about all the beige wearers of the world.

And then there is the comment I posted at the top of the page:  "When you dress like everyone else you don't have to think like everyone else."

 I hope that by this she means, that if you dress differently people will understand that you think differently, and by differently I assume she means more tolerant of oddities.  I hope that she does not mean that she thinks only people who dress differently are open minded, creative or tolerant people which is how that statement first sounds to me.  I am perhaps being nit-picky about semantics.  I often am.  I also must keep in mind that being a famous person, she will be quoted, perhaps misquoted and sometimes quoted out of context. 

 I am not sure that we can have any control over what other people determine about our thoughts though because they will judge our appearance as they will, not necessarily how we intend them to.  They will view us through their own lens, as the saying goes.  For a time I was concerned with attempting to represent my true self with how I dressed.  Eventually this became exhausting and boring.  I love clothes in the abstract.  I could have a lot of fun with a life sized mannequin to dress and an endless supply of the various styles that intrigue me.  I've learned that clothes are not my primary mode of expressing myself and that my preferred methods are not immediately obvious, they do not announce who I am as I walk down the street and that is the point.  I am not that type of person, though I can enjoy them and admire their boldness. I am more interested in being bold with my art and my words and I have not reached my desired level of boldness yet.  This makes someone like Iris a role model for me, despite that fact that I would not dress as she does, and do not find it attractive.  I am sure she would not care that I do not and THAT is the point.  I am sure she would not care that I have issues with some of her opinions (if these quotes are indeed accurate) and THAT too is the point. 

The question I repeatedly ask myself, mainly because I think I know the answer and don't like it so am searching for a new one, is  about how I would behave if I had a good long chat over a glass of wine with Iris.  If Iris were bold with assertions and opinions, ideas that could potentially be offensive to someone dressed in a beige ensemble, I would find myself biting my tongue, editing my ow replies to keep them from being as offensive as hers are.  That is what I do.  And I hate it that I do that. I will stop myself  from saying things after I've determined they are not tactful enough, despite the fact that my conversation partner is not being tactful herself.    This is always especially tricky with those people who are skilled at saying any number of things ranging from insulting to mildly un-tactful things while smiling and using a jocular tone.  I'm sure you've met that type. 

So now I have a plan.  I may not want to dress like Iris, not feel comfortable in literally such a bold costume, but if I ask myself, what would Iris say, perhaps I will make progress.

If you like quotes about style and fashion there are many here for you to enjoy.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

I Am In Love With Two Men I Cannot Have

That got your attention, didn't it!  I will disabuse you now of all notion that there is some sort of passionate love triangle (or quadrangle) going on in my life.  One of these men is dead and the other is gay and neither of them ever met me. ......

... So, I write to sort out my thoughts, and sometimes I write those thoughts here.  This, as Beth commented in a previous post, is a public journal, with the vague idea that in some way it might reach other people like me, help someone else in some way or help someone to understand someone in their life who is a bit bonkers like me. 

No, I don't really believe I am bonkers at at all.  But I know that I can appear so to many people.  I have had many people in my life trying to fix me, even with good, loving intentions.   I do not need fixing, but I admit I do crave being understood.  Most of the time I settle for acceptance.  Actually, 'settle' is not a satisfactory word as it is lovely to be accepted.  My ideal is to be both accepted and understood. 

Duality is a constant theme for me.  If we are talking about spirituality or religion I am firmly a monist, not a dualist.  However, I do frequently sense a great deal of dualism in myself.  It amuses me that I am a Gemini, although I have no magical beliefs leading me to buy into astrology and other than a tricky dual personality I do not relate to anything that astrology tells me about Geminis nor do I see any logical reason why I should.

What I struggle with constantly and have for as long as I can remember, is a sense of being two people inside with opposite agendas.  Because of this I am quite attracted to dualist symbols like yin and yang.  If you are sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for me to tell you I am confused about my gender, I am sorry I will have to disappoint you.  That is one thing I am not at all confused about.  I do not feel I am in the wrong body but I do feel as though I have two brains and thus should have two bodies.  I want to be two different people who think and behave differently and have slightly different values.

Who are these two mystery men I am in love with and what do they have to do with all this existential angst?

Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry.  Two men who have never claimed to possess conventional good lucks and tend to refer to themselves as ugly.  Perhaps they are, but I've never noticed.  It is their minds I am in love with, though in the case of Stephen I suspect also very much his heart.  No, all this unrequited love does not torture me, rather it is one way of understanding my own thinking if I ask myself why these two men attract me so much.  Essentially it is more that I want to be them, than want to have them, though I will pass on the smoking habit.  One half of me aspires to be very Stephen Fry like, compassionate, lover of people, invested in causes, brilliant of course, let's not leave out that part,  and I am actually more like him in that I tend to be tactful, to live and let live unless there is something significant at stake, to always consider how others are feeling or how they would feel if I spoke or acted in a certain way.  Admittedly, I want to get along with everyone and be liked.  I am not fond of conflict nor of knowing that someone thinks ill of me.

I wish it were not so.  I wish I were tougher, less sensitive, basically a brilliant asshole, to put it crudely.  Putting things crudely is not my typical habit, though there is that half of me who wants to.  I want to say exactly what I think with scathing brilliance and not give a damn what others think or how I make them feel and definitely not whether or not they still like me after I've said it.  But I rarely do this.  I censor myself, consider everyone's feelings, follow the nanny wisdom of not saying anything if I cannot say something nice.

Which am I?  Confusedly I am both.  I am, quite often, a really nice person who doesn't want anyone to feel hurt (unless that person is an evil dictator but I don't tend to encounter many of those) who is careful not to offend, who keeps her offensive views to herself because it is impolite not to and this is all quite instinctive to me.  I cannot doubt that it is 'the real me' because it is generally so instinctively how I behave and I am usually deeply troubled if I think I have offended or hurt someone whom I believe to be a good person.

BUT, I am also someone who just wants to make all her views plain, call an idiot an idiot, stir up some shit and while I have all the patience in the world for children, I have little for ignorant adults, particular those who stubbornly cling to their ignorance.  I am very aware of what I know and what I do not know.  I would wish to be much more intelligent than I am, and while I wish to possess such intelligence in order to help make the world a better place, part of me would just like to go around slapping idiots with it. 

This side of me rarely shows.  It is repressed, but honestly, if I let it out I do not know if even I could handle it.  I would be loathed by some people and I am too damn sensitive to deal well with that.  My evil twin tells the good twin she should try it, that practice would make perfect.  The good twin says, no no, the world just needs peace and love and cookies.  Evil twin says, yes, but a few people need slapping.  Let's go out and slap them.

Fortunately these twins are living in a body that is too tired to do much.  Perhaps that contributes greatly to the frustration.  I want to make a difference in this world.  I want to help people but cannot seem to decide if they need hugging or slapping.  Some need one and others definitely the latter.  Nice twin speaks up and reminds evil twin that honey catches more flies, that patience and kindness encourages people and being critical of them does not make them change.  Evil twin smirks and says, yeah, but it sure feels good.

Thursday, 21 January 2016


Sometimes I take breaks, withdraw, from people, from going out,withdraw into my own world which is a place of refuge.  I do not sit staring at the wall.  When withdrawn from the outside world I look very busy.  I am busy.  I am occupying my brain with learning new things because believe it or not, that is a form of respite for a busy brain like mine.  My brain is normally busy taking in everything around me intuitively, processing it, filing it somewhere, pondering it and making connections, filling in gaps even if temporarily.  I need to understanding things.  It's am intense craving sort of need.

When I give my brain a rest, I occupy it with facts.  When I withdraw I am fact gathering.  Of course, I cannot help making connections and having epiphanies while I gather the facts, but somehow it's all a little more soothing and self directed than what everyday experiences feel like.  I will dive into a subject that fascinates me, such as colour, or more broadly, some aspect of psychology or philosophy.  I seek to learn everything I can about this current topic of focus.  I read endlessly and I make notes.  Almost frantically at times.

It looks like this...

It may be my laptop or a book that is open and in use.  I make notes.  I am quite prone to making notes on small scraps of paper, with the logic being something to do with very important ideas get their own piece of paper and then trivial working something out ideas can be scrawled all over the discarded pieces.

This is a strangely busy and seemingly not relaxing activity and perhaps not what any of my friends might imagine I am doing when they notice I have withdrawn.  It is not the same as a crash due to the CFS/ME where I am just in bed and can't function.  This one is not a feature of my medical issues but a feature of my personality.  I realise I have done this all of my life.  It is why I would love to be a university student forever.  It brings mental peace.  Some people take their body for a jog to relieve stress.  I have to take my brain for a jog.

Social interaction does not give me facts to rest with, it gives me information about people, about the world that my brain uses in a non-restful way.  More like those images we see of frantic stockbrokers in the trading rooms.  Information about people and the world is steadily coming in at me and I am processing, making decisions, filing information, making connections, taking in more information than I could ever begin to describe to anyone, and often more than I am aware of at the moment.  I am only aware of being bombarded.  I know more about other people than they often know about themselves, because I have taken in so much, but I also know more about them than I know about myself.  In order to better understand myself I have to slow down and direct my brain to a singular focus.  I cannot empty it easily.  If I empty it, as in meditation or a meditative task, it will just automatically go back to sorting through the files of everything I've taken in, continuing to process, make connections, devise systems of understanding.  I have no control over this; all I can do is employ methods of interrupting it.

It's not sensory input, that is quite different.  I am often less aware of sensory information than I should be.  I am that person who walks through a doorway but hits the frame as she goes.  I am that person who is literally in her own head and not physically present.  This is why sensory information can sometimes hit me really hard and feel like too much.  I am not accustomed to dealing with it.  I don't deal with it well if it is overstimulating or startling.  If I make myself focus on more sensory things, I can also give my mind a break.  This is where I find myself loving painting, gardening, and even weight training although the CFS/ME makes a bodybuilding hobby an impossibility.  I have tried.

So something like studying, focus on one specific topic, diving deeply into it, making notes and learning new facts is a brain vacation of sorts.  Of course, I cannot stop myself from aha moments, from sudden clear understanding of something I had only had a vague and intuitive sense of before, but the aha moments are fine.  They are restful in a sense too.  There is some sort of closure.  It's the endless intuiting that is draining.  It's the frustration of knowing I know something and can trust my intuition but not be able to explain to someone exactly how I know, that I need a break from.  I can explain how I came to know something that I've studied and studying something can help me make sense of everything I have intuited.  I am not creative when I am in this phase.  I can't be.  That is almost shut down and it used to distress me. I didn't know who I was if I was not creating.  I understand it better now. I can always feel when the creative part of me is gearing up and that too brings a sense of relief.

I have to shut people out sometimes.  They are sources of too much input for me.  Overload hits me and I have to withdraw.  But I think some if not many people would be surprised at what recharging looks like for me.  I suspect to some it would even look like mental illness.  Manic, or something like what a delusional person might engage in.  It's not.  It's just me.  It's just how my brain functions.  I've opened a window to it here, in case it might help anyone else who is like me and fears they are weird.

And now, I have to do something about my hunger, my headache and the fact that my feet are cold.  I have been registering these things for about an hour now but too focused on writing this to address them.  No wonder I struggle a bit with self care.

Deep breath, make a plan:  scrambled eggs, tea and painkillers, thick socks-I can do it.

 Note: due to extreme need to deal with these sensory issues I am posting this unedited.  Sorry.  I've used up all my energy and there is none left for editing. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

This Post Has No Title

            Are you surprised that I have only three books on colour?

 Hanging out with me is loads of fun.  I do things like draw lipstick on my arm and blob paint on paper to make colour comparisons.   Here I was testing my primary colours for a good balance of warm and cool selections.

I make piles of scarves on the floor to look for colour harmony.

I am good at sorting laundry too!  I take lots of photos of coloured things, making comparisons, looking for why certain colours belong together or work together or if any types of discord are appealing.  I take photos to illustrate points I want to make in a blog post and then the photos don't turn out well so I abandon the blog post idea and you don't know how lucky you are!

Here's one such picture, a pink sweater that looks bright on me (in a nice way) but in comparison with a faded denim shirt you can see how it's not one of the brightest pinks out there.  

 I am endlessly frustrated by my own limited skills with photography and with the limitations of my equipment and environment.

Lighting problems drive me bananas when taking photos for the blog because colour accuracy is so elusive and I am so often talking about colour and wanting to illustrate my point.

I feel that photos often make me look a little clearer, brighter and of flawless skin than I really am.  There is a sort of whitening/brightening effect that happens which I certainly don't see when I look in the mirror.  I have lots of faint freckles, my hair is medium ash brown but can look almost black or it can look auburn in photos.  The light changes within minutes.  As in these two photos taken beside the same window and consecutively.

This is why photos are tricky for personal colour analysis and it helps to have taken and looked at lots of them to get a sense of the trues colours and of contrast levels.  In photos I look darker of hair and paler of skin than I really am and even more so if the coolness level is accurate.  You can also see that the green of my coat changes with the lighting.  Most of the time it's a grey-green that is cool but in some lighting it takes on a warm tint which bothers me.  I suspect that when the light is such that it adds a yellow tint to the coat, it is probably adding a yellow tint to me as well and thus there is harmony.

I am obsessed with figuring out the 'true' colour of this coat.  I get tons of compliments when I wear it, which is surprising as it's not one of the brighter colours my blog friends tend to prefer.  But in offline-real world people like this coat on me. 

Anyhow, I am very fond of greys, green-grey, blue-grey, grey-browns and neutral grey and they seem to suit me.  I should stop over thinking this coat and just enjoy the compliments I get, but lots of thinking is what I do.

Now, speaking of colour, I am off to paint some blobs which will hopefully resemble something other than blobs.  I'm working on a birthday card for my Mum.

Look at the risks I take!  The mug on the left is my paint water and the mug on the right is my tea.

.......birthday card looks like this

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Which Summer Am I? Colour Analysis Part 2

Of course I couldn't cover it all in that one post.  Within each of the four seasons, there are sub-categories that are usually similar across different systems though there are also colour analysis systems which have dispensed with the seasonal labels which are limited in the sense that people around the world do not make the same associations of colours and seasons.  The Season names do have the advantage of being simple, instead of calling a category what it is such as Light-Warm-Muted.  Some systems assign archetypal names or choose from an assortment of descriptive words like Elegant, Sophisticated, Dramatic.  Every naming system has its imperfections.

So, I decided that my colouring is pretty obviously cool and that the Winter option was too intense.  Working with coolness as my most obvious characteristic, I then had to look at the options within the Winter and Summer categories.  There are generally three or four, depending on which system you are working with.  Some analysts claim that twelve categories are enough and everyone finds a home within them and others say no, 16-18 are required to fine tune it.  I think it gets a bit nit-picky at that point.  The purpose of a palette is not to go shopping and find exact colour matches but to find harmony. If you actually own a colour swatch fan you hold it up to a garment you are considering and look to see not if the colour is actually represented there but if the colour of your chosen garment looks like it belongs in the set.  You are matching qualities and the fan helps you to see the qualities.

I can go into the store and know that I am looking for cool, medium-value, slightly greyed, less saturated colours with a blue base and still have some difficulty discerning those colours without something to compare them too.  If I come home with a cool pink I am probably fine, but if I am seeking to avoid mistakenly choosing something slightly too warm or slightly too bright, which I may find myself not wanting to wear or having difficulty making work with my other garments, then I have possibly wasted my money.  For me, the mistakes tend to come from choosing something too warm or too saturated (dark/bright).

A blog written by Personal Colour Analyst Christine Scaman, called is one I enjoy browsing for insights into colour.

Here she shows some different blues, with subtle differences in saturation or coolness.  Blue is generally a cool colour.  I usually look at least okay in just about any blue but some are better on me than others.  People with very warm skin who don't easily wear blue, do better when yellow is added to it and it becomes brighter, almost turquoise.  The first four blue circles are for cool seasons, the top two being True Summer and the middle two True Winter.  The bottom two are for True Spring.  The differences are subtle and the differences between Summer and Winter are largely of saturation.  The Summer colours have a greyed look, a muted look next to the Winter ones.  They could also be made with a paintbrush more loaded with water in proportion to the pure hue from the paint tube. 


Primary blue hue is cool.  To make blue slightly warm yellow must be added but too much yellow and you arrive at green.  That is what makes blue the trickiest colour for very warm toned people and the colour easiest to wear for cool toned people.  I avoid yellow, although technically a very very cool (greenish) pale yellow should work for me.  I find that particular colour very difficult to find and not one of my best anyhow.  For warm toned people it is difficult to go wrong with yellow, though certainly the more red in it prior to its becoming orange, the better it is for them.  Orange also does not work for me and reds must have a bit of blue in them.

Green is often a challenge for me since it is inherently blue and yellow combined.  I have to make sure I don't get a green with too much yellow or it doesn't really flatter me.  (When I say 'doesn't really flatter' I probably mean 'makes me look ill')

Here is a good graphic to compare warm and cool greens.  It seems obvious when you see them side by side but without context it can be more challenging and it certainly is for me because liking of the colours can get in the way of truly seeing them. 


Even more challenging for me than determining warm green from cool though, is seeing the difference between more saturated greens and less saturated or slightly greyed greens.  It shows up more readily in comparison.  To me every single one of the greens above looks bright except perhaps the two warm-dark ones.  Bright is a relative term, but when looking for 'less bright' something to compare it to is required.  If I put on any of those four greens on the right they will look fine because they are all cool, which is my dominant quality but I have established that 'less saturated' is better for me.  More heavily saturated colours don't harmonise with my own colouring.

So I ruled out the Winter palette called True Winter, but there are actually at least two other Winter options.  If True Winter is too intense for me, it's not hard to imagine that Deep/Dark Winter colours would also be.  But what about the palette of lighter, brighter ones?  Let's check.  Oh oh-confusing because they are all cool so they look pretty good.

The top right palette is Dark/Deep Winter and the bottom one is Clear/Bright Winter.  The darkest shades of both palettes are like darker versions of me. Not wrong or bad, but they compete with me.  Without makeup I can look pale and faded in them.  The icy colours on the bottom seem pretty good.  I have those colours in me.  But icy colours are white with a little bit of colour, whereas pastels (Summer palette) are colours with a white tint.  Which is better for me?

My opinion is that while it's close, the medium value of the Summer palette matches better than the higher contrast values (very light and very bright) of the Clear Winter palette.  Will the Clear Winter palette work for me?  Somewhat.  But I also know that in reality I feel overwhelmed by the bright versions of these colours and a little washed out in the icy ones.  So now it is my quality of mediumness that becomes important.

That mediumness rules out Winter palettes so I turn to examine all of the Summer palettes.   I am using True/Cool Summer as my comparison and the reason is that the other two Summer palettes, called Light Summer and Soft Summer, vary slightly from True Summer in that they are just slightly warmer and I suspect coolness is my dominant quality.  First I will compare True Summer with Light Summer, also a soft, cool and light palette but with a subtle yellow-brightness to it.

This is trickier and I did not do my analysis using only the palettes from this source.  These particular palettes work best for my collages but here are some other sample palettes to compare True Summer with Light Summer. I've flipped them on their side as I think that makes it easier to compare them. These images are to illustrate the differences between the Summer palettes.

 Now you can see how there is a bright sunniness to Light Summer, more yellow involved in it.  Some of these colours would suit me fine, but the corals and yellows wouldn't and the palette needs to work together.  I don't suit colours that get as warm as some of the colours from the Light Summer palette.  Light Summer people also suite gold jewelry more than I do.  They are just that much more neutral in their colouring, or not as obviously cool.  In real life testing, it also seems that some of the Light Summer colours get a little too bright for me.  I suspect that is the yellowness again, literally like more sunlight than I can handle.

The other Summer palette is Soft Summer.  This one is also slightly warmer than True Summer and very muted.  Every colour has a sort of smokey veil over it, though it seems a very slightly warm smoke. 

Some systems take Soft Summer and divide it into light and deep versions.  That may or may not be pointless.

Okay, so although we are sick of my face by now, this is what I did next.  I wore the palettes.

If you are familiar with Red Dwarf you know what I am thinking about every time I look at this photo of myself.  Hello, Holly.

I narrowed it down to two contenders.  I ruled out Light Summer as too sunny, bright, warm overall and had troubles deciding between Soft Summer and Cool/True Summer. If your brain is not totally addled by now, you might remember that Clear/Bright Winter was almost a contender as was True Winter.  Those two are more directly related to True/Cool Summer than they are to Soft Summer.  I am very attracted to muted colours and so I am quite attracted to Soft Summer, but then I remember that True/Cool Summer is quite soft and muted compared with Winter.  It's all relative and context is key. 

My dominant quality is cool, followed by lightness and softness which are all features of Summer, the lightness and softness ruling out Winter.  Coolness trumps all so that rules out the slightly warmer other Summer palettes.

I bought myself a colour palette fan for True/Cool Summer and I am excited to receive it in the mail and play with it.  I can't wait to take it into stores with me and look like a colour nerd holding it up to the clothing.  Yes, I could just go in with the mantra cool, medium, slightly less saturated, but I've already been doing that and it isn't foolproof.  Having a colour swatch fan gives me a reference point and if you know anything about Myers Briggs personality measures you will know that as an INFJ I NEED to get things right, as accurate as possible, to know as much as I possibly can about anything I am interested in.  I already know that if a colour doesn't feel right to me I am agitated by it.  The colour swatch fan is a measuring stick for colour, a method to help me get it right before I pay for it and bring it home only to discover it is more saturated than I thought it was and glares like a beacon inside my closet.  We don't want that!


The collages cut off some of the palette images but the full image is found at these links. 

Deep Winter palette in collage here

Bright/Clear Winter palette in collage here

True Summer palette in collage here

Sideways Soft Summer palette here

Sideways Cool/True Summer palette here

Sideways Light Summer palette here

Monday, 11 January 2016

How To Play With Sample Palettes-the Unscientific Method Part 1

 I have difficulty writing a blog post on personal colour analysis without writing a thesis.  I want to thoroughly explain, answering all possible questions as best I can.  Realistically I can't do that and will not try to do that here.  There are many many sources of information online, though not all are accurate or detailed enough.  I don't have access to a professional analysis but I am interested in the topic and, I think, reasonably well equipped to figure it out on my own or at least to narrow it down sufficiently.  Here is an illustrated example of my process and some tips for doing it yourself too if you want to.  Colour accuracy is a challenge with computer monitors, cameras and whatever lighting you may take a photo of yourself in.  The same problem occurs when we are shopping because store lighting can distort colours. 

The colour palettes are samples of the potential range and the collage tool didn't allow for the full photo frame either, so keep in mind the palettes are only representative.

This is the best I can do since my photo editing skills are very limited.  I've blurred out the background ( somewhat poorly and a bit of my jawline as well) and then put my face into a collage where there are sample colours from the True Summer palette and the True Winter palette.

Note: there is an error in the Summer palette, labelling a mauve tone  as blue green. 

Neither is bad, as I obviously suit cool colours, but in my opinion the bottom one, Summer, is best.  Those colours seem to match the colours in me, whereas the Winter colours are too saturated and intense.  I sometimes buy winter colours.  It's difficult to tell without comparisons, just how saturated something is, and mainly I have always just sought cool colours.  I find that in the Winter colours I need more makeup whereas in the Summer colours I might look as though I'm wearing a bit even if I'm not.  I do have makeup on in the comparison photo.  I think that if I required a formal gown and was intending to wear dramatic makeup, I might pull off one of the Winter colours due to the dramatic nature of it and it would look formal and be suited to spotting me from a distance or for showing up in photos.  That's not my life though.

Just for the fun of it, see how warm colours really don't work for me.  There might be one or two that I could get away with if they are less obviously warm but the cool are always better, and I think even the more heavily saturated Winter cools are better. The warm colours, although really pretty in themselves, just don't relate to me as well as the cool ones do.  When I make mistakes it is usually to purchase a purple, brown or green that is too warm to really flatter me.

I think the Spring palette, which is the warm but light, is arguably either my second or third best option.

 It supports my recent thinking that I need to really lighten my colour choices.  So it's debatable whether my most dominant feature is soft and light or if it is cool.

To test that I made this comparison-Winter (deep cool) vs Spring (light warm) 

And this one, comparing the light warm colours with the light cool ones.

 My skills weaken a bit here and I often waffle.  So I consider what it is about the warm colours that make me consider them.  The purple tones simply don't look warm to me, so I sense that they would work.  The greens also seem cool enough and the corals close enough to the pink in my face.  BUT the more yellow the colours get the less they work and the palette has to work as a whole.  The colours from the Spring palette that almost work have better versions in the Summer palette.  Everyone can wear a version (or two or three) of almost every colour. 

This isn't as scientific as a proper colour analysis draping,  with hair covered, natural lighting and the drapes right under my face to see how they reflect light onto me, but I don't have access to one and I enjoy playing with colour theory anyhow.  Within the four seasonal categories there are more specific palettes to further refine your best match.  I used the pure seasons here to narrow things down.  If you need brighter, darker or more muted, for example, there are versions of those within the warm and cool seasons.

Your dominant quality is likely to be warm or cool.  The second quality is likely to be light, dark, bright or muted but sometimes it is the other way around.  Even if your most dominant quality is lightness, mutedness, brightness or darkness, you will still look better with either warm or cool closest to your face.  People are not entirely neutral even though they can first appear it.

Undertone can be tricky to spot without making comparisons. Many cool toned people easily are made to look yellow with incandescent lighting or in photographs.  Some people with reddish looking  skin (often they tan a very red brown) are often warm toned.  The closer you are to neural, the trickier it is to tell.  Hair and eye colour don't matter in the process of analysis, only skin does.  Hair colour matters in that if you dye it you want to coordinate it with your colouring.  There is bias towards a golden glow in our Hollywood dominated culture of western beauty ideals.  Many celebrities are given spray tans, bronzer and gold-blonde hair when it actually is not their most flattering look.  Cool beige- blonde hair and fair skin has not been fashionable since the fifties.   Goldeness came to signify health-the 'health' of a California beach babe.

Simple tests to find out if you are warm or cool:

In good, natural light, compare your skin to white paper, to silver and gold jewelry, to hair colour samples, or consider if you are more likely to get compliments in blue or orange.

If you want to do this photo collage test here is how I did it.  The palettes are all from the same source but I've linked to the specific palette samples.

Autumn palette source here

Spring palette source here

Winter palette here

Summer palette here

Collage making at Pic Monkey

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Brace Yourselves

This is a warning because I like you.  I am obsessed with colour. I play with it, read about it, study it, and have written about a bazillion unpublished blog posts on personal colour analysis and my exploration of it.  Yes, I said unpublished.  I have written and published a few in addition to the masses of words and pictures I've accumulated and not inflicted on the online world.  That's about to change.  I've got two lengthy posts coming and so I decided to warn you in advance.  Fortunately nobody is going to make you read them.  I am posting them for anyone who is like me and obsessed with the topic, or perhaps those who are mildly interested but patient.  I am not even sure my own mother loves me enough to read all of these posts, but then I write this blog for myself and if it pleases me to write endlessly about colour then that's just how it is.  And it does please me.

For some people choosing colours to wear is not a big event.  They may not believe in personal colours or they may not care.  I would argue that it is a fact, not something to believe in, that everyone looks better in some colours than others and that there is a scientific basis for sorting colours into groups that belong together based on like properties.  That we can determine which groups of colours suit us best and that thankfully someone else has done all the work of organising the colours into groups.  There is a version of almost every colour for everyone, so the colour palettes are not limiting as some might think, though they are limiting because their very purpose is to eliminate colours that do not flatter and home in on the best of the good ones.

For some people it is enough to decided if they suit warm or cool colours and have done with it.  I read somewhere (can't remember where) that colour discrepancies humans are best at distinguishing is warmth and coolness and it is the wrongness of this warmth or coolness that may be the first thing that jars us.  Warm and cool are temperature terms and colour only has perceived temperature, of course.  The more blue in a colour the cooler we perceive it to be and the more yellow, the warmer we perceive it to be.  People who perceive their own colouring to be cool may avoid yellow and those who perceive themselves to be warm may avoid blue, as indicated in the chart below.


However, green is a bit of an exception since green is a combination of blue and yellow and the more yellow that is added to the mix the warmer the green appears to us.   The above chart is woefully inadequate, since browns can be made cooler and purples can be made warmer, but it does give the general idea. 

Just look at some of the options for wearing the colour turquoise.  Don't you want to know which one is your best?  I've always thought of turquoise as a cool colour but that's somewhat relative.  The more yellow you add the warmer it gets.  The warm versions get closer to green and the cool versions closer to blue but with many of them they are best distinguished from each other when seen in comparison.  Oh no!  Such opportunity to get it wrong.



Myers Briggs personality test results consistently place me as INFJ

INFJ people like to learn everything, every detail, all the nuances, in order to fully comprehend the core idea, the nugget of truth.  Or at least they do for topics that interest them. I find I do not have this compulsion with algebra.

But colours-those interest me!  So two lengthy blog posts are coming.  They are already written and my finger hovers over the publish button like Ronald Reagan's hovered over the red button of doom. 

 In the meantime here is an update that has nothing at all to do with colour or the Cold War.

Update on the handbag experiment:

The short handled bag I bought (thrifted) recently has been a short lived experiment in carrying a new-to-me type.  The experiment lasted about as long as did my attempt to take my coffee black.  I am a die hard shoulder-strap/cross body bag carrier and having to hold the bag in my hand just drove me nuts.  I also had accidents.

Most of us who drive a car have a sense of our vehicle's boundaries and edges.  In time we know exactly what small spaces our vehicle will fit into or through.  Well, I had difficulty driving this new handbag and I didn't know where the edges and boundaries were at all.  I kept knocking things off shelves in the shops when I was carting around a bag hung over the crook of my arm, which is what one has to do if one needs one's hands.  Strike two against the bag was that it did not meet my requirement to go smaller.   It's a lovely bag, but seems not right for me.  I will sell it and hope someone else can enjoy it while I enjoy the cash.