March 21 - International Colour Day

Posted on March 21, 2020

Today's holiday can also be spelled with the American version of the word "Colour" - that is, International Color Day.

Color is one of the most important aspects of human sight. It helps us spot things, identify things, describe things. Colors can make us feel emotions and can make us gasp at their beauty. 

Colors are important in eating - we are urged to eat colorful fruits and vegetables, because a variety of mostly bright colors line up with fresh, nutritious, and delicious food. 

Colors are important in fashion - we express ourselves with the clothes we wear, including the colors we wear, even those of us who like to dress in black or other neutral colors. 

Colors are important in art - a piece may have many colors or few, bright colors or muted or pastel or or or - and all of those color choices help to the piece express a feeling or idea.

Of course, there are people who are totally blind or who have visual impairment, but did you know that some people are completely color blind? We usually talk about "color blindness" as
If you cannot see the number
in this circle, you may be
the inability to distinguish between particular colors - with red-green colorblindness being quite common, especially among men and boys. This kind of colorblindness can give those afflicted with it problems, especially if they are artists - but a few people - including at least one artist - either weren't born with or lose the ability to see color AT ALL.

You might think that living as if one is in a black-and-white TV show isn't so bad, but an artist who suddenly lost the ability to see colors on the basis of an auto accident reported that foods looked so disgusting, being dead looking shades of gray, and it was hard to eat anything that wasn't naturally black or white. (So...mashed potatoes and black olives? Yikes! - there aren't that many black and white foods, are there?) Also, he felt repulsed by the gray skin of humans, including his own skin. 

He ended up painting and drawing in black and white, and many of his art works were considered really powerful!

How we perceive color is that each material or pigment absorbs some color wavelengths and reflects - bounces back toward our eyes - other wavelengths. 

The sun's light includes all color wavelengths.
An object such as an apple absorbs many color
wavelengths and reflects one or more colors of
wavelengths - which we then see...

Is this a red table or a
not-red table?
If a children's table absorbs all the colors of the spectrum other than red, then it reflects only red wavelengths and we perceive the table as being red. But in a sense, we could think of the table as being the colors it absorbs: it's violet and indigo, blue and green, yellow and orange, but it rejects red.  So we could think of the table as being not-red. LOL

Celebrate International Color Day by making colorful art, doing a color make-over of a room, or enjoying color science experiments, like learning what colors are in black markers (there's a more complete write-up here) and using dish soap to swirl colors in a pan of milk.

(Third Saturday in March)

(aka Worldwide Quilting Day)

(Third Saturday in March)

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