Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Color Is the Coming Year?

"Stormy Sea" by Sharon Hart

Last year prior to joining the glitzeratti at the vernissage at Art Basel Miami, I delivered a painting to an art patron in Miami. Much to her delight it was a monochromatic painting in the identical color that the Pantone Color Institute, had just announced was the “color of the year.” I knew the color as French Ultramarine Blue, whereas Pantone elected to term it “ Blue Iris,” or No. 18-3943. Coincidentally throughout the year I painted several mono-chromatic paintings in the color of which Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute said: “Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspects of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast. Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic.”

December first seems to be open season for magazines, newscasts, and even blogs to present “The Annual Best of ... ” or predictions for the year to come. I , therefore, was reminded that every year the Pantone Color Institute chooses a "color of the year", essentially as a media –grabbing exercise. Considering the state of the economy, I pondered what color Pantone would seize upon as “The” Color for 2009. Review of past trends gave me some clues to their thinking process. Here is their previous panel of choices:

Cerulean Blue: Chosen for the millennium for its calming zen state of mind.


Fuchsia Rose: A reversal from the previous year, more exciting, more feminine and sexy.


True Red: Recognizes the impact of 9/11 with a patriotic hue.


Aqua Sky: A cool blue meant to restore hope and serenity.


Tiger Lily: Acknowledges the hipness of orange, with a touch of exoticism

Blue Turquoise: Another reversal to a calming shade.

Sand Dollar: A neutral color that expresses concern about the economy

Chili Pepper: Chosen for its pizazz and sophistication and its hint of ethnic taste.

Blue Iris: A mix of blue and purple that suggests dependability and magic

Pantone is considered by some in the decorating community to be a “Color Authority”. There is a video entitled “Color Watch 2009” that addresses how Pantone’s Executive Director chooses palettes and identifies future color trends, stating that they draw their inspiration from artists, museums, and the economy.

Prior to the Pantone’s announcement, I playfully discussed the topic with a couple of friends, as it provided some light relief to other more pressing issues such as the global economic condition. Someone suggested that green would be a logical choice, considering the focus on organic foods, the environment, and money. Another individual opted for bamboo, as the Chinese influence on the west is becoming an increasingly dominating consideration, both on products, as well as in banking. I, however, suggested that considering the economy, people will opt for comfort foods such as Kraft macaroni and cheese ---a peculiar shade of yellow-orange and that with the focus on optimism that was reflected in our recent elections, yellow-orange would be the most logical color for 2009.

Much to my surprise, today I discovered that Pantone announced that 14-0848 Mimosa, yellow as the color of the year for 2009. Their rational from the press release follows forthwith:

“In a time of economic uncertainty and political change, optimism is paramount and no other color expresses hope and reassurances more than yellow.

“The color yellow exemplifies the warmth and nurturing quality of the sun, properties we as humans are naturally drawn to for reassurance,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Mimosa also speaks to enlightenment, as it is a hue that sparks imagination and innovation.”

Artists have long used color to direct the mood of the viewer, in addition to being used because of cultural symbolism. A good example of this can be found in the colors traditionally selected by icon writers. Here is a brief synopsis of the meanings ascribed to the colors often used in Christian religious icons:

* Gold symbolizes divine light.

* Blues are associated with heaven, mystery and the mystical life

* Red is linked with heat, passion, love, beauty, life ,

* Orange-red, associated with fire, suggests fervor and spiritual purification.

* Purple & crimson is associated with royalty and the divine. It is the symbol of supreme power.

* White is associated with the divine world, purity, innocence, and is sometimes used with what Orthodoxy calls "the uncreated light,"

* Green represents the earth's vegetation, fertility, youth, hope and freshness, and martyrdom

• Brown is affiliated with poverty, humility, bare earth, dust, inert matter and all that is transient and perishable.,

It will be interesting to explore how artists will use color in 2009. Although “experts” such as Eisenman may suggest that we respond to tides such as economic conditions to determine our palette choices, I would suggest our choices are not that volatile. I would also suggest that artists are not that vulnerable and suggestive to marketing influences, but are more apt to be the fulcrum by which consumer choices are directed.


Dave King said...

We had it drummed in to us at art school that no true artist has a favourite colour, so I immediately chose cerulean blur as mine. Very pleased to see you started off with that. I suppose the danger might lie in being taken seriously...?

Laurie B. said...

I love your blog and choice of topics. I'm so glad I'm "a follower" of your blog. with gratitude, laurie B. I picked cerulean blur too!

Duni said...

Although I'm not a 'blue' person, your monochromatic blue painting really inspires me.
Thanks for sharing.

Dori said...

I'm yet another lover of I loved the painting :-) This was a very interesting post. I loved looking back at the colors that were chosen in years past and then I thought about how the years were for me personally :-) Great topic.

Curved Angles said...

Hi Sharon, a sweet blog post and you are right, I love the painting! Your work is sensational. As for the color yellow in times of economic uncertainty and political change, I would have thought sunshine!

KindleDude said...

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Kim said...

fascinating post Sharon...
your blue landscape is very peaceful...French Ultramarine is timeless..
I'll be referring to your post if I decide to paint a few abstracts next year...I've definitely taken a shine to the yellow and think it may look good with a taupe colour :)

The Fitness Diva said...

Shades of blue are exquisitely beautiful to me, and are my absolute favorite! That painting is gorgeous!

ESCUDERO said...

Loved your post Sharon - Beside the fact that I enjoyed the tranquility and serenity of the ocean you painted, I found that the significance of color was very interesting.

I personally prefer to not over conceptualize such matters, but believe it or not I too get influenced with what color combinations are prevalent at the time. Influence is a catchy thing. Thanks again for the info. I enjoyed it.

Tranquil Places said...

I am not sure how I came across your blog, but I am sure glad I did. I am working on new labels for 2009 and was so pleased to see the definition of the color I chose.

krizcpec said...

didn't know about colour of the year before, thanks for sharing. Happy 2009!