I’ve been thinking about color this week. It started out with an overdose of brown.
We’ve been camping close to Santa Fe in New Mexico. If that state has an official colour, I think it would be brown. The desert is brown. The dry stream beds are brown. If water does run in the stream, it’s brown, too. The unpaved roads – and there are many of them – are a sandy brown. And the architecture in downtown Santa Fe is brown, dictated through a by-law that says all public buildings in the historic centre must be built in the old style adobe. When people buy a home here, I think that they’re told, “You can have any colour you like, as long as it is brown.” Sandstone, tan, beige, light ocher, cinnamon, copper, off white...you name it. It’s here.
And it’s brown.
I’m not saying brown is bad – after all, chocolate and coffee are brown, and they’re good, very good. The interior walls of our home are a warm shade of tan. Colour theory says that brown is the colour of security and protection. “It is sensual, sensitive and warm, engulfing one in a feeling of calmness and comfort,” proclaims one website. “It is quietly confident but never the life of the party! Brown does not seek attention - it prefers to stay in the background, allowing other colors around it to shine.”
Other colours ... yes, for sure. All of us need a healthy dose of colour in our lives. All brown is a yawn, but splashes of colour stimulate and arouse the senses, and make you feel like you’re alive. New Mexicans know it: I saw doors, window frames and eaves painted turquoise, purple, red, cobalt blue, orange. Sunny yellow marigolds, lavender Russian sage, red trumpet vine, and multicoloured gaillardias flourished in huge pottery planters. A turquoise coyote wearing a red bandana stands sentinel at our campground entrance. Mailboxes come in every colour except brown.
And so, we fell under New Mexico’s spell – its motto is “Land of Enchantment”. We’ve been here for 10 days, and haven’t grown tired of all that brown after all.
I decided to play with colour this week. We’d been on an art tour, following high desert roads through tiny villages where the locals had hung out their welcome flags and opened their studios. The art was wonderful and colourful, but what stopped us in our tracks when we got close to Taos was a field of purple asters.
The scene became the subject of another postcard. Three of them, actually, in three different colourways: the first is pretty close to the original photo, the second uses more intense and saturated shades in the sky, mountains, and trees, and the third goes a little wild. But not too wild, because it is me, after all, that’s making it.
How about you?