Sunday, June 3, 2012

More About Color

One of the most creative responses to my question, "What color goes with each emotion?" came in the form of a poem by an artist cousin of mine: 

Anger is a dark red throbbing, its edges glowing orange-yellow, and this in a dark place.

Fear is a very dark gray with a greenish cast.

Sad is less a color than the blur of whatever colors we see through tear-filled eyes.

Shame is the color of the top of whatever shoes I'm wearing.

Surprise is an unexpected flash of brightness, the hue of which doesn't matter.

Disgust has no particular color; it's a recoil from corruption.

Happy is not one color but the sparkling of many.

Love is all the colors we have of eyes, and skin, and hair.

While thinking about color, I learned that in 1666 Sir Isaac Newton became the first person to use a prism to separate pure white light into the colors on the visible spectrum--the colors of the rainbow. Each color has a unique wavelength that makes it irreducible, unable to be separated into other colors. White is the combination of all the visible colors.

RadioLab recently did a terrific show on color. It covers Newton's color experiments and the sequential emergence of individual colors in evolving languages.


  1. Thanks Peggy, my first compliment of your blog is that I spent a good deal of time reading it! Very engaging and interesting at many levels.

    I really like that you are letting us adults in on the language, color and theory of emotion - I think your book is for all of us. It often seems challenging to me to produce something that keeps kids and adults equally engaged. I like your idea of letting us in on the theory that underpins your book. The short video of Pert and Bill Moyers is very informative - and seeing Moyers' child-like awe at learning about emotions from her seemed so resonant with the spirit of your book. Color makes it all seem so accessible to me. I feel sparkling of many colors right now! Maybe emoticons need more color ;-)
    with gratitude, Rich

  2. Rich, Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog and to look at the video. I was fascinated by Bill Moyer's concept of reasoning being only in our brain and Pert's correction that it's all over our body. It's still a new concept for most of us. We've been aculturated to think of reasoning as taking place above our shoulders and in our heads. Thinking of our whole body as wise and valuing the important interplay of reason and emotion is still not mainstream.