Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Yellow - Jaune, Gelb, Giallo, Amarillo - A-Z Blog Challenge

Okay, that exhausts my knowledge of the word yellow in any language and in Italian and Spanish in particular - apart from also being able to say please, thank you, excuse me, hello, goodbye and a few honourifics like Mr, Mrs and Miss - represents pretty much the sum total of my knowledge of those two. I'm not even sure why I know amarillo is Spanish for yellow. It seems an unlikely thing to have come across but there you go, I must have heard it somewhere. And now I have Neil Sedaka's song Is This the Way to Amarillo? stuck in my head for some reason.

Okay, back to the subject. The thing is I like yellow in all its permutations. I find it cheerful and uplifting and I'm not the only one. It's generally regarded as a warm colour signifying strength and apparently it has a similar effect no matter what the depth of the shade. I guess that's part of the reason why I always gravitate to the colour and why my walls are painted in a pale, buttery cream. They still retain the qualities of pure yellow.

This liking of yellow goes through my family too. Virgo chose sunflowers for her wedding flowers and stunning they looked too. I was more conservative, but my bridesmaids wore yellow and I opted for frangipani blossoms, their yellow throats fitting in with the colour theme. The florist was not impressed - apparently frangipani is not a common flower for a bridal bouquet and quite hard to manage - but she pulled it off and they were as lovely as I imagined they would be.

When I was much younger, I used to wear a lot of yellow too. It suited me and lifted my spirits. Sadly, though, my skin tone has changed with age and, of course, I no longer work on acquiring a tan. Living as I do in a country with some of the world's highest rates of skin cancer, although I don't burn easily - I can only think of it happening three times in my life, and there were other factors like strong wind that exacerbated it even then - I "Slip, slop, slap" and cover up much more.

But, while I love yellow, I was astonished to find out that for some people it's very different. There are folk out there who see it as depressing and say it increases anxiety and frustration. I was really shocked to hear this because to me it is anything but that. Maybe I was the odd one.

So I went looking for information. It seems that colour psychology is still very much in its infancy - see here and here - and, while some findings (like the success of blue street lights used in parts of Glasgow to reduce crime) are often quoted there doesn't seem to have been much rigorous analysis of such anecdotal data so I'll be treating any suggestions with some scepticism.

Not everyone has my reservations. In the world of advertising, colour is taken very seriously. Certain colours are used to reinforce messages and attract attention so the message stands out. I'd like to believe we're not all that gullible but, hey, most people now believe that pink is THE girl colour and it is rammed into us that this is the colour all girls - and women - love and gravitate to. Obviously this is nonsense. I, for one, loathe pink and always have, but even more telling is the fact that at least as late as   the mid nineteen thirties pink was THE colour for boys because it was regarded as stronger and so more suitable for the male child.

The thing is, apart from personal responses - yellow cheers me while it may depress you - there are also cultural biases. For example in the Western cultures black is generally regarded as a sign of mourning, but in Cambodia white is. Then there's the black cat - well, take your pick of these contradictory beliefs. As far as I can see there are simply no universal associations with colour. I may be wrong but I guess until - or unless - something more definite is proven I'll just enjoy the colours I like.

So should I buy yellow cushions for the sofa? Yes, I think so.

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