Messing around with color

red1Don’t you love it when you get outside yourself… lose track of time and space…quiet the inner dialogue…and just be?

That’s what happened this week when I opened a book that’s been sitting on my shelf for years— playing with color, by Richard Mehl—and started doing his “graphic experiments for exploring design color principles.”

Doing is the key word here. You don’t really read the book; you do it. And anyone can (that means you—and your mother, daughter, grandson, neighbor, barista—anyone).

red5The first exercises, for example, require just cutting and arranging colored squares on a grid, like those you see here. And doing that is teaching me a lot more about color than any of the daunting books on color theory (which make my eyes glaze over and my brain shut down).

reddishSo why did it take me so long to get around to this? Because you need something before you start: Color-Aid color swatches. I actually ordered a small set (2″x3″) right after I bought the book, but by the time it came, I was already onto something else.


Too bad for me, because these swatches are a fabulous tool, not just for this project, but for anything that has to do with color. There are 314 cards in the full set, and each one identifies its hue (color), shade (color plus black), tint (color plus white), and other distinctions I don’t pretend to understand. There are 17 levels in the grayscale alone!

Turns out the universe knew what it was doing, because now is the perfect time to get into this. After all, you don’t need a thumb to punch squares, arrange them, and lose yourself.

In fact, you don’t need anything. You just have to show up. Kind of like life.

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