The only time a color made me cry, it was a green. Tears welled up at the sight of a bright yellow green. Acres of it, a brand new spring green, in rural Delaware. The late afternoon light was hitting it so that the field itself seemed to glow with it’s own light.
Yet, if there were a color I’ve used the least in my drawings, it would be green. It’s not generally a color I’ve liked very much. My work has drawn more from the far ends of the visible spectrum, the violets of the high energy side and the longer wavelengths at the red end. Maybe it’s connected to my focus on less visible realities, the enormous range of frequencies of which we’re not consciously aware but are influential components of reality. Green is the most visible band in the spectrum, situated right in the middle. We have more receptors for green than any other and perhaps because of this, green is a soothing color, conveying a sense of the known. I’ve read that green glasses have been used to help with facial tics. Perhaps seeing more green exerts a calming influence on our physiology. I can’t help but wonder if the reason I felt so laid back in France might have related to spending my days amidst so much green.
There was a study done in Munich in the early seventies where whole rooms were painted a single color and then people lived in them. Light blue actually stimulated intelligence raising scores on IQ tests.
We don’t have to see the color. Just like we don’t need to see the sun when it burns our skin. Colored wavelengths are absorbed by the skin and produce hormonal changes that affect our chemical reactions.
These studies haunt me when I’m watching tennis. Some sports, like wrestling, are aware of the effects and flip a coin to see who wears red and who wears blue since statistics show red wins more often. It’s a stimulant that raises blood pressure, pulse and respiration, and operating at a faster speed is an advantage. The fact that it can affect balance may not matter so much in wrestling, but when I see it on Roger Federer I worry that he might fall, though if anyone can properly channel the extra momentum, he can. When Rafael Nadal wore pink at the French Open and he was struggling, I kept yelling at the TV screen for him to change his shirt. I don’t really know if the particular shade of pink had any role in the different attitude he seemed to present, but I knew certain shades of pink have a tranquilizing effect. Pink has been studied and actively used to calm people in some prisons and mental hospitals. I felt like it took the edge off his normal warrior focus. The scrubs in Shock trauma are pink for a reason. I’m glad he’s wearing yellow now though I still think he played best in green.
The topiary gardens have reunited me with green. As I finish the drawings I started there, it’s a pleasure to feel those sensations again. I can’t help but wonder whether everyone should do a green picture (drawing, collage, finger painting…) from time to time, not for the result, but for the sensation.