Color is not just color, White is complicated and other things I've learned

I've just returned from a seminar learning about color from the expert herself, Maria Killam of Colour Me Happy.  Even though I've been doing this for several years now, I'd never given much thought to color, other than how to use it in ways that brought a space together and/or alive, depending.   

In three short days, Maria changed all of that.

I learned a lot from Maria and the other participants, but the three key things I took away from her workshop were as follows:

1- There are 9 neutral undertones in the world and once you have a gradation of them (from light to dark), you no longer need to sift through hundreds to find the right one. They are: 

  1. Blue Grey
  2. Green Beige
  3. Yellow Beige
  4. Pink Beige
  5. Orange Beige
  6. Gold Beige
  7. Taupe
  8. Green Grey
  9. Purple Grey

2- You can't choose color from a paint chip the size of your thumb (I think we can all relate to this one!).  Maria has developed large boards that rather than being printed, are painted.  It's enormously helpful to be able to hold these up to a wall in your space or to a sofa to determine its undertone. She sells them here, if you're interested in buying your own.  Alternatively, if you're just looking for paint colors, my friend Vanessa from Color Moxie NW has them and can help you choose the perfect wall color in no time. 

3- You can't choose color without using a "control" -- a white piece of paper behind the color board is the only way to accurately determine the undertone.  I was amazed at how many times I guessed a color's undertone incorrectly until I held up a white board or piece of paper as a point of comparison.  

If you're a designer or just a "design enthusiast", Maria's classes are well worth the investment. You not only leave as a certified color expert, but a whole new appreciation for the colors of the world around you.