Teri Orr: Feeling blue, and witnessing the wonder that comes with it
I realize that perhaps I am being manipulated and for now, I’m OK with that. Each year there is an announcement — right about this time of year — from the folks at Pantone about the upcoming “color of the year.” Last year’s was a shade of coral and the year before that — ultraviolet. If you are not a geek about print and ink colors and design and layout and visual impact on internal color wheels, this may not be in your (color) wheel house.
But if you love knowing how color can not only influence your purchasing decisions or be a subliminal political statement … come jump down the rabbit hole with me here.
Pantone is a paint color company, and for years now they have unveiled a different color of the year as a promotional hook, when one year rolls over into the next. Folks who follow this sort of thing — and there are nerdy pockets of us everywhere — love the speculation of why — a certain color, a certain year.
Take, for example, the selection of ultraviolet two years ago — there was little publicly stated by the company but the wisdom of the crowd determined it was a subterranean message in support of the LBGTQ community. Last year’s selection of Living Coral is a shade familiar to those of us living near deserts but also ocean reefs. News analysts and other people with too much time on their flesh-colored hands (and by the way — depending upon your blood lines, flesh-colored is about 20 different shades) tried to decipher what that meant. It was largely agreed the color was a nod to protecting the environment — a nurturing color.
If you try and unpack what this year’s color might mean — first you need to understand the nuances of this blue — Classic Blue. It is not sky blue and yet, it is. Like so much of life — it depends upon where you are, when you look at the sky and what time of day you look at the sky and even what kind of cloud cover is filtering the sky. This sky blue is one that never fails to suck me in and make me feel wonder and the desire to touch the sky and become part of the universe. This sky blue is an indigo — the color of well-worn jeans and tropical waters — depending of course on what color blue your jeans were to start with and if you are looking at shallow water or deep water.
The folks from Pantone say this…
“It’s a color that anticipates what’s going to happen next,” said Laurie Pressman, the vice president of the Pantone Color Institute.
And lest you think they entered into this fashion marker lightly, hear this from the Leatrice Eiseman, vice president of Pantone.
“We are living in a time that requires trust and faith. It is this kind of consistency that is expressed by Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on. Imbued with a deep resonance, Classic Blue provides an anchoring foundation. A boundless blue evocative of the vast and infinite evening sky, Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.”
So we learn from this — the time of day — for this sky — is twilight or the time the Scottish call “in the gloaming.” For those who dabble in such things — it is the hour the fairies start to appear. Light flashes often happen in this hour — twinkling and mystery and transition and the place where veils lift and part — if only for instants. It is the time of day when leafy green trees in the summer or bare bone weathered barks become nothing more than stark black silhouettes against that inky blue sky. It is a time that feels safe and relaxing.
It is a color of mystery and wonder but also reassuring. And it just might be a not-so-subliminal vote color in an upcoming major election year.
Here’s what you can be certain of, based on past year’s announcements — expect this color to be an influencer by itself. This shade of blue will be on coffee mugs and T-shirts and in headlines on ad copy. It will be The Color to paint homes and cars and dye shoe leather. It will be The Color once you are attuned to it and you will not be able to escape. And with any luck, it will serve to soothe us, calm us, relax us. Deep classic blue is easier to sell than take the gray edge off blue, calm the hothead Red down, blue. Remember the red, white and blue, blue.
And in this season, of just buying up everything on the color spectrum of stuff to give as gifts, it is important to remember color is free. And this color, this calming other worldly color, can been seen most nights — if you time it right — and is nearly guaranteed to make you connect, if only for a moment, with a bit of non-divisional wonder. So look up this week as the day transitions into night and know that you are witnessing wonder which has been declared the color of the year ahead. And that should give us all some comfort this Sunday in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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