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Pte 70 Score Essay on “The Place of Color in Everyday Life”.

The Place of Color in Everyday Life


What constitutes perception of color is not fully understood, though the quality of light coming from a colored object can be analyzed into electromagnetic radiations of various wavelengths.

White light consists of a spectrum band of shades merging from red to blue. Objects will absorb certain parts of the band and reflect others, giving a perception of color to the eye. This perception is standard to the human race, though about two per cent of males and rather less females suffer from color blindness. Red and amber become indistinguishable, a dangerous situation at traffic lights!

Whether realized or not, color exerts a great effect on humanity from the psychological as well as from the aesthetic point of view. For example, environmental coloring profoundly influences our working lives. It is not only for reasons of economy that until recent years, at least in Britain, governmental and armed services offices were uniformly painted in yellow ochre.

So were hospitals, state schools, prisons and most other official institutions. The object was to create an un-distracting environment. Latterly it has been realized that pastel shades are the most helpful. Sharp colors tend to lead to unrest and aggression. Drab colors cause depression and negative attitudes. Aesthetic considerations are more a matter of fashion. People are easily influenced by propaganda and fashion.

A short time ago, many ‘people were led to prefer sharp, primary colors in wall paint and soft Furnishings, with no regard to match and mismatch is was short-lived. The idea was soon superseded v light pastel shades which provide both a restful atmosphere and the ideal background for offsetting -furniture, pictures and floor coverings.

In those days, the 60s, there was also a craze for psychedelic painting. Cars, generally bangers, were patterned with any kind of design. The thinking behind this was to reflect the kaleidoscopic colors experienced in the drug-induced states typical of that appalling decade. Fast colour switches were also a feature of the pop scene, and remain so to this day. Fashionable dress for children still reflects this objectionable colour freedom, which is known to be exciting to the younger generation, and to some degree enhances their urge to freedom. Perhaps my rather scathing comments are typical of my generation!

Art in primary schools has undergone a profound change in recent years. Finger paints, poster colors, felt-tips and myriad-shaded drawing pencils, allied to the teaching attitude of free expression, enable youngsters to use colour more imaginatively than was permitted under older regimes. On balance, this may confer advantages which were not available to earlier generations.

In most Western and Westernized countries, the choice of style and colour in clothing for both sexes is a matter of individual choice, though tradition plays an important part. In Britain, for example, women’s fashions were always dictated by class and income in the old days. Nowadays, mass production offers a much wider range of style and colour. Men tend to be much more drab — quite the opposite in nature! — and in Britain, this has its origin in Cromwell’s Protestant ethic in the 17th Century. It led eventually to the standardized dark suit, collar and tie, which have now become almost a uniform, spreading to many countries where Britain once had an interest.

Yet the male still has an instinct for colour and variety, which today is expressed in casual clothing.

In Arab countries, dress design and coloring for both sexes is dictated by religion. Women wear full-length and loose-fitting black garments in public.

The importance of colour is seen in several other aspects of life. The best exponents of both representational and impressionistic painting use rich colour freely, using light to obtain depth and realism, to highlight, and to convey movement and emotion. The works of Turner and Van Gogh typify the two schools. The best of colored photography follows the same principles. Natural coloring may be subtly modified by the use of light filters.

In temperate and tropical zones, shades of green predominate in natural surroundings. This color is universally restful and relaxing, though it is notably absent in many inner city areas where the dull grey of concrete has a depressing effect. This is recognized in the surprising number of parks and gardens in London, for example. These make a significant contribution to social ease.

In hot and dry equatorial areas, the above does not apply. People are conditioned to the browns, yellows and reds of their surroundings. Wildlife uses colour very subtly, mostly for camouflage purposes. Certain fish and many insects use camouflage as a defense against predators, and some can even change colour in order to merge with their surroundings. The chameleon is the most obvious example. The same principle is used by armies. Khaki was chosen for the trenches, olive drab for bocage, and broken outlines for buildings.

A final note concerns color of skin! An important element in the one-world movement is the abolition of color prejudice and differentiation. Social taboos, particularly concerning inter-marriage, are of increasingly less importance.


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