Color Connections Part 2/3

Color and other stimuli may be a helpful means of understanding ourselves. Those with vision disorders might explore sound or texture or their own experience of sight in a similar manner to color psychology, recognizing a multitude of associations. Our subconscious is highly adept at connecting small pieces of information together.

(optional reading: part 1)

Identifying our associations is a helpful skill in all realms of life. Too easily we remain oblivious to bias, preference, even prejudice, learning to self-reflect on easy topics can teach us to dig deeper. Concept like color create a catalogue to work from. Structure can be vital in self reflection, few can dive headfirst into their subconscious.

Start small then build upon what you’ve learnt and push further. What’s your favorite color? In what ways do you use color? Think broadly– your wardrobe, your accessories, decor, color coded organization, any flags, your social media, ways color applies to your job, your hobbies, etc. What meanings can you glean from them? What’s your strongest bond?

As an artist, sometimes I first think color theory and pigments. I think of hues (pure pigment), tints (adding white), tones (adding gray), and shades (adding black). Color theory is important to my art practice and has informed the style of palette I prefer to work with. 

My vision and color perception is heavily dictated by a mix of tint, tone, and shade, as I experience a distortion called ‘visual snow’. Since I can remember, I’ve constantly seen a faint overlay of speckles resembling tv static. Recent medical research has connected it to various neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Autism, in particular, often involves a myriad of other disorders regarding the senses. Our perception of space and stimuli differs from the neurotypical experience. Visual snow is the least of my sensory issues. My processing disorders cause me to have strong, negative reactions to certain triggers, one of many is highly saturated colors. 

Neons evoke anxiety, nausea, dizziness, and a unique, deep discomfort– they shatter my fuzzy, muddy normalcy. I’ve begun appreciating bright colors from an aesthetic perspective but I suspect I may never be ‘comfortable’ with them. We each form unique interpretations, we each feel colors differently. 

However, I do believe most all color psychology applies to most all people. Neons are an energetic colors but involve a harshness not everyone can tolerate, neurology aside. They’re loud and extremely bold. Some people match better with these sentiments, can better tap into their power because their personality and psychology benefit from the symbolism of neon colors. Maybe shyness can be overcome by embodying a them, or maybe someone recognizes an intrinsic part of themselves in these colors.

Cultural influences differ, but many of the base associations are identical thanks to the large amount of cohabiting meanings connected to each color and the long history of each association. While white may have a history of being symbolic of death in East Asia, notably in mourning clothes, in other places it still has connotations with ghosts, the white light at the end of the tunnel, and for some skin tones, the pallor of a corpse. 

Colors are symbols and don’t cease their symbolism when encountered in daily life, as they give reference to the greater contexts of our surroundings. A symbol is annotative, indicating further explanation, just as color is a cue to the nature of a substance. 

We navigate our world physically, mentally, and spiritually with color as a guide.

(optional reading: part 3)


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