The Memory of Color: Sky, Grass (and Skin)

September 2nd, 2014, 1pm


When it comes to color, we apparently have what’s termed ‘poor color memory’ (citations to follow). We can’t accurately pick a color again after seeing it. Read: Good luck getting your wall the same “purple fig” color as you picked this morning. Lo! Be! and Hold it! I discovered today the instance of memory colors; Colors on which we humans concur. I read on. Take skin (albeit Caucasian), the sky and grass. Still working out the rest…

But, how can we concur?

I was told the blue sky in Bressanone-Brixen yesterday (a rare occurrence these cloud-filled days) wasn’t “the usual Bright, Beautiful Wintry blue”. How do they remember — for sure? Likewise, Canberra (CBR) has what I term a high Blue Sky Index (let’s call it BSI). It’s always so very blue. At risk of offending the Hometowners I’ve left behind, I’ll endearingly dub it Bromide Blue; even the clouds don’t care to stay long. How do I know the azure of CBR? If there was a lineup of Blue Skies by City, could I pick CBR? It has hopefully been too long… And Grass. It’s also been too long. After the drought and its subsequent water restrictions, everyone who didn’t replace lawns with pebbles installed astro turf in horrific shades of green-being-faked, which, I suppose is my grass memory color kicking in. Skin: Flesh tones, from Old Masters to Sephora VIPs, mixing (or not mixing) palettes and foundations well enough know this is a tough one to get right.

Chiaroscuro jawlines, tans in tangerine— again, memory color for fleshtones at work!

Color Memory for Caffeine and Food

And if the Starbucks green wasn’t the same green everywhere in the world? Would you walk in? Would you know? Or if the Coke cans you (gladly) bypass were salmon-pinkish? (Opportunity for a sci-fi script based on this scenario). Actually, it took several months to realize Europe replaced the RED for GREEN with McDonalds. Golden arches stet. (I guess gold surpasses borders and time). My memory color for Maccas/McD’s is (thankfully) poor!

The FDA (US) even have a food color chart for fries (and peanut butters). In case our memories have forgotten how to taste first…

Anyway, this was about memorizing the sky, skin and grass in color. More to come!

ADDENDUM: It is possible to color match a purple fig, thanks to Hering’s opponent theory, CIELab, Spectrophotometry… JOY

David Wade and Christine said thanks.

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Tanja P

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