It’s no secret that color has a powerful impact on how we feel. I’ve thought about this a lot lately. I am an artist and so playing with color is what I do for fun. I had a eye-opening experience earlier this year though.
In March and April of this year I had to have cataract surgery on both eyes. For the last few years my vision had been deteriorating rapidly and I was afraid to go and have my eyes checked because the last optometrist I went to had brusquely told me, “Oh yeah, you are about to lose your license. You have corneal scarring. There’s nothing we can do except a corneal transplant and that will take years.”
Well, I live in a town where public transit is slow, not very useful in getting around the city and used primarily by scary people. I’m not being judgemental here—the bus terminals are hubs for drug dealers and gangs and violence and robberies are common. A few years ago one guy was chased out of the bus terminal and beaten to death with a brick by a gang of young people. So obviously, I wanted to keep my licence as long as possible. So I rarely drove at night and never drove on the highway. Because I also live far north, in the winter, not driving at night meant that when I went to work or came home from work, I was driving with limited vision.
It was getting to the point where I was starting to think I’d have to bite the bullet and get my eyes checked and prepare to be carless. The final straw, almost, was when I hit a herd of gray garbage containers roaming the street with the help of a high wind right after garbage pick-up. It was horrific—big garbage containers flying everywhere! I was shaken. I thought suppose they were dogs or kids. So I was considering taking the big step and getting my eyes checked.
Then, a few weeks later, at Christmas, I was at my son’s in-laws home for dinner. His father-in-law, Gary, had just had cataract surgery and he said to me, “Jackie, you know the biggest difference for me after having my surgery was the difference in color.”
He pointed to a little santa village ornament and said, “I always thought that was green and beige.”
So I followed his finger and looked at the green and beige ornament and said, “what color is it?” “Blue and white.”
“Really? What color is the wall?”
“Green.” By now he was looking at me oddly.
“Wow, I always thought it was taupe. A very nice shade of taupe.”
By now, my son, who was listening, was shaking his head sadly. He seems to do that at me a lot. He joined the conversation. “Mum, you’re an artist. How can you not see colors?”
“Well I see colors. I’m just not that sure now that I see the right colors.”
For the rest of my week in Ottawa , I drove John and Stacy nuts. I was constantly asking, “What color is that?” It was clear that I was seeing a vastly distorted world of color.
So as soon as I got home, I went to the doctor and got a referral to an ophthalmologist and within a month I had an appointment.
When the nurse was putting my eye drops in, I said, “Oh I sure do hope I have cataracts.”
She said, “I’ve worked here a long time and I have never heard those words before.”
So when I found out that yes, PRAISE THE LORD, I had cataracts, all the nurses were congratulating me. Then I called my manager who was in a meeting with all my coworkers. I told him the great news and he asked if he could share it. I told him yes and he turned to the group and said, “Great news! Jackie has cataracts!”
I heard cheering! But a few people who just can’t go along with the crowd, had to ask why they were cheering when I had to have cataract surgery. It was a fun day!
The cataract surgery was easy although I should have taken time off after because they only do one eye at a time and it was hugely draining trying to work when I could only see out of one eye up close and the other eye far away.
But the best thing was, like Gary said, that I could see color again. I realized that when I was at work, all the paper on my desk was brilliant white. Before they all looked aged and cream colored. It was like I had been looking at the world through a mud colored screen. Now, all my paintings, which are bright to start with, were brilliantly colored. I loved them!
I started thinking about that and the impact that seeing a beige world might have on your moods. If everything is dulled, does it make you more likely to be subdued and depressed? Probably.
Interestingly, color isn’t actually IN anything. When we look at a red apple, the red isn’t in the apple, but rather the surface of the apple, or any object, reflects some colors and absorbs the others. We can only perceive the reflected colors. So in the case of an apple the surface is reflecting the wavelengths (because colors each have their own wavelength) we see as red and absorbing the rest. When an object appears white, it’s because it is reflecting all the wave lengths. When it appears black, it’s absorbing all the wavelengths.
Another interesting point is that our eyes have two types of cells—cones and rods. Rods are responsible for night vision and can’t perceive color. Cones are concentrated in the centre of the retina and they are the ones that allow us to see color.
I don’t want to get into a big discussion of how the eye works. My purpose in even bringing this up is that I have a piece of art I want to create. It has relevance to the concept of the Law of Attraction and how we create our reality. I will reveal it in a month and explain my findings. But I want your help.
Different colors have different meanings in terms of feelings and emotions. Whole studies have been done on this and charts created. But I want to know what you think. I want to do my own highly unscientific survey.
So please take just a few minutes to go and complete my color survey right here. It will only take a few minutes, I promise.
And a month from now I will share the results.
Thank you in advance.