Monday, January 31, 2011

What I miss most: the Colour Green

It is so much fun to research about colours - so what to choose next? I thought about what I would like to see at the moment i.e. what I miss most in winter times such as these when I look outside the window: there is no green, green, GREEEEEN. I miss green.

The word green is closely related to the Old English verb growan, “to grow”. It is used to describe plants or the ocean. So the colour green is the colour of life, the colour of the plants and of springtime and as such it symbolizes hope and immortality. In China the colour green represents the female Yin, the passive, receiving principle.

"The color green is the color of balance and harmony. From a color psychology perspective, it is the great balancer of the heart and the emotions, creating equilibrium between the head and the heart.
From a meaning of colors perspective, green is also the color of growth, the color of spring, of renewal and rebirth. It renews and restores depleted energy. It is the sanctuary away from the stresses of modern living, restoring us back to a sense of well being. This is why there is so much of this relaxing color on the earth, and why we need to keep it that way.
The color green is an emotionally positive color, giving us the ability to love and nurture ourselves and others unconditionally.
Green promotes a love of nature, and a love of family, friends, pets and the home. It is the color of the garden lover, the home lover and the good host.
Green is the color of prosperity and abundance, of finance and material wealth. It relates to the business world, to real estate and property. Prosperity gives a feeling of safety to green." (from Color Psychology).
But there are also negative aspects of the colour green such as:
the color green can be possessive and materialistic. Think of the common phrase "s/he was green with envy - a very negative reaction to the color green. Green is a color that apparently encourages us to want to own things, to collect and possess. It stands for money. Sometimes it can also describe someone who is inexperienced, jealous, or sick. One of my art works is a silk scroll that depicts one of the 7 deadly sins: it is called Greed

49" x 29", silk scroll
©Petra Voegtle

An art critic once described the background of this silk scroll so aptly as "sickly green" which expressed exactly what I intented.Green encourages materialism.

On the other side the phrase "we go green"´is related to the new environmental understanding and means something completely different. "Green energy", "green agriculture", "green production" etc. mean something completely different and is rather directed to less spending and wasting. So the colour green apparently seems to inhabit some paradoxa.

Green is a combination of yellow and blue, and thus the color green encompasses the mental clarity and optimism of yellow with the emotional calm and insight of blue, inspiring hope and a generosity of spirit not available from other colors.So green is considered to be rather a positive colour than negative.

What is really interesting is, how other languages treat the colour green. They simply have no definition or word for it:
"Quite a number of languages from countries, mostly in Africa, do not distinguish blue from black, while there are a handful of languages that do not distinguish blue from black but have a separate term for green. Also, some languages treat light (often greenish) blue and dark blue as separate colours, rather than different variations of blue, while English does not.

According to Brent Berlin and Paul Kay's 1969 study Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution, distinct terms for brown, purple, pink, orange and grey will not emerge in a language until the language has made a distinction between green and blue. In their account of the development of colour terms the first terms to emerge are those for white/black (or light/dark), red and green/yellow.
Many languages do not have separate terms for blue and green, instead using a cover term for both (when the issue is discussed in linguistics, this cover term is sometimes called grue in English). For example, in Vietnamese both tree leaves and the sky are xanh (to distinguish, one may use xanh lá cây "leaf grue" for green and xanh dương "ocean grue" for blue). In the Thai language, เขียว (khiaw) means green except when referring to the sky or the sea, when it means blue; เขียวชอุ่ม (khiaw cha-um), เขียวขจี (khiaw khachi), and เขียวแปร๊ด (khiaw praed) have all meant either intense blue or garish green.

Chinese has a word (qīng) that can refer to both, though it also has separate words for blue (lán) and green (). The Korean word (pureuda) can mean either green or blue. In Japanese, the word for blue (ao) is often used for colors that English speakers would refer to as green, such as the color of a traffic signal meaning "go". Some Nguni languages of southern Africa, including Tswana utilize the same word for blue and green. In traditional Welsh (and related Celtic languages), glas could refer to blue but also to certain shades of green and grey; however, modern Welsh is restricting glas to blue and using gwyrdd for green and llwyd for grey. Similarly, in Irish, glas can mean various shades of green and grey (like the sea), while liath is grey proper (like a horse). In Old Norse the word blå was also used to describe black (and the common word for people of African descent was thus blåmenn 'blue/black men'). In Swedish, blå, the modern word for blue, was used this way until the early 20th century." (after Wikipedia)
So no matter what you call green who could deny that the following greens (in our language) are reviving for the eye and soothe our soul?

(all photos ©Petra Voegtle)

Who would not love all these hues and shades of green??? Btw - the Easter bunny is already waiting...



Lynda Lehmann said...

Exciting post, Petra, full of words and apt images, so lovely in their array.

I've not looked at any interpretations of colors in recent years, so this was an interesting read for me.

I do agree that green is quite comforting, and probably that is at least in part to our conditioned response to nature as being mostly "green." Perhaps though, there are arctic cultures who rarely if ever see green, and they might think the white of fresh snow is the most comforting color!

In the summer, I have to admit I get sick of being surrounded by so much green, and would often like to see a punch of color here and there. And it the winter, I crave the same green that in the summer, I've had enough of! Maybe we're never happy?

Petra Voegtle said...

Hi Lynda, I find the psychology of colours very fascinating although I do not always agree. But there seems to be more behind it than usually anticipated.
I had to laugh about you being so "contradictional" about "green".
For myself I can say I never can get enough of it - must be my inner tropical soul...:-)

Sunray Gardening said...

Really enjoyed looking through your fantastic photos. I am your new follower. I just started my blog, stop by and watch as the season progresses and I add more photos.
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Petra Voegtle said...

Thank you so much for your visit, Sunray Gardening!