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Color Month: Orange

We’ve been seriously sun-deprived around the Pond over the last week. It’s the perfect time for Orange! I love the exuberance of this color. The wonderful thing about Tiggers and its association with the brilliance of Autumn aside, orange offers a wealth of richness. Just seeing orange calls to mind evocative words like tangy, bright, and vibrance. In the Plop! continued celebration of Color Month, what unspoken messages does the color orange deliver?

Orange is what we call a “secondary” color, meaning it is created from mixing two primary colors together — red and yellow. A playful melding of red’s warmth and yellow’s brightness, orange usually offers fun and happy connotations. Its associations in nature with the glow of sunset, the radiance of autumn and the tanginess of fruit give it a warm vitality. The fruit that bears its name often helps us imbue orange with a more a more tangy feel than the sharp citrus connotation of yellow.  Sometimes it can be hard to take orange seriously, since it often signifies playful and childlike qualities. Brighter versions of the color certainly imply feelings of happiness. However, orange also symbolizes balance and warmth with a touch of vibrant flamboyancy.

The color orange often carries an ethnic quality because of it’s historical use in Native American, Latin American and African arts, as well as it’s association with exotic locales–perhaps taken from the feathers and foliage of tropical birds and flowers.  Orange has also been shown to stimulate the appetite and is found in many foods.

Bright orange tones that strike a near equal balance between red and yellow are widely seen as the hottest of all colors in temperature. Apricot and coral versions of the orange hue offer a more sophisticated tone than bright orange and appeal to a more upscale audience. They have a nurturing, approachable quality as well as tactile connotations because of their association with sand, desert and rocks. Peach tones have strong associations with health and are flattering to most skin tones. They also signify delicious, fresh food and are a more subtle appetite stimulant than stronger oranges.

Because people generally have strong preferences about orange–they love it or hate it–it can be challenging to find the right application for it. Although brighter neon version are very readable, they sometimes carry a negative association of begin loud and boisterous. Orange can also be seen as cartoonish or childish when applied to more serious subject matter.

Orange in any color palette immediately adds a touch of heat and warmth–but it’s a warmth that has more depth and complexity than is often found with yellow. This quality gives the color a lot of power when paired with neutrals or complimentary hues. For some reason I’m craving O.J. right now! What about you?

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