Yesterday a fairly amazing thing happened to me: I saw three different rainbows at three different times. OK, I guess that within the possibility of "amazing" that’s fairly unremarkable (three rainbows doesn’t change the world or save the whales or solve global warming), but still, there I was, out running errands, and everywhere I went there was a new rainbow. And they weren’t shy, half-formed things, but full arcs of brilliant color. One of them stretched from mountain peak to peak, across a craggy canyon; toss in the autumn colors on the hill and holy cow: is it possible to overdose on color?
I hope not, because I’m following up on Saturday's amazing color-based gallery with a Write. Saturday on using color in your journaling.
Color is an inherent part of how we experience the world; it’s nearly impossible to separate some objects, places, and experiences from their color. Autumn wouldn’t be autumn without red leaves and orange pumpkins and golden hayfields. So using color words in your journaling is one of the best ways to create an image in your reader’s mind. If you read, for example, the word "rose," what color of bloom do you picture? (My immediate response to "rose" is my mom’s Mr. Lincoln rosebush, which she is inordinately proud of.) But if you read "pink rose" your mental image might just change. Try getting even more specific; you’ll picture a magenta rose differently than a melon rose, even though they’re both pink hues. Trying to find the closest word to the color you’re describing helps you and your reader share the most similar image.
To answer my own hypothetical question, it is possible to overdose on color, specifically in writing. Some colors don’t need to be mentioned because they’re so closely related to the thing they’re describing: grass is nearly always green (brown grass would be worth the adjective), snow is almost always white (but if it isn’t, if it’s grey or yellow for example, that’s remarkable!), and generally sand is tan (until you look closely and see it’s really a blend of gold, silver, white, and rosy specks). Use color words to create images instead of reinforcing what is already known, and don’t describe every color. Just the important ones.
Describing color, though, is only one way to include color in your journaling. Here are some other colorful ideas:
Write about the color’s connotations
Green, for example, suggests growth and change. Purple has a regal quality, while blue can express sadness or depth. Try connection the emotional charge of a color to the topic you’re journaling about. I did that here, writing about pink:
Amy Kingsford also used color connotations, changing some words in her journaling to red to suggest the tension she felt about urging her son to discover his world:
Write about the colors in your life.
Why is your bedroom painted yellow? What do you love about your lavender bed spread? What is your favorite color of clothing to wear—and why? Color is woven throughout our lives. Which ones are important to you? In this layout, Celeste writes about the color grey:
Write about color words or names.
Back when I was a college freshman, I took a fashion merchandising class, and one of our assignments was to create descriptive words for lipstick shades. I loved that assignment, but I’d forgotten about it until I saw Jenny’s layout:
Read a clothing catalog, a housewares website, or yes—even a row of lipstick colors—and you’re bound to find descriptive color words. How do these influence your shopping choices? What’s the name of the color on your kitchen walls? When did you start wearing your favorite lipstick? (Mine is currently called "curtain call." It’s a purple-toned pink in case you couldn’t guess.)
Write about the psychology of color.
The Hartman color code personality test is a way of describing a person’s personality traits (for example, I’m a nearly-equal mix of blue and white). I’d never thought of scrapbooking that part of color until I saw Carey’s layout, about a similar personality exam she took:
Integrate color into your journaling design.
Isn’t one of the most fun parts of scrapbooking all the colors we have to work with? Incorporate some of those right into your journaling by designing text with color. You don’t need to own a color printer to do this; just replace some of your typed or handwritten text with words spelled out in different supplies. (Little alphas are great for this!) In this layout, Sue blends stamped and embossed words into her journaling:
Write about your favorite color (or your subject’s).
This one is hard for me, as my favorite color changes depending on the context. If it’s clothing, my favorite is black; for flowers it’s purple, for quilting it’s grey, for scrapbooking it’s orange. If I have to give an answer, I say my favorite color is green, although it really would be more truthful to say my least favorite is red.
Maybe I need to document that in a layout!
Jenny made this layout documenting her son’s favorite colors:
So tell us: how do you use color in your journaling?