Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Colorworld


I don't understand why there isn't more color in the world around me. I don't understand why so many cars are silver and white, instead of goldenrod and violet and cobalt and teal, or why the favorite house hues in the US seem to be brown, grey, and beige. Would anyone list those as their favorite colors? I don't THINK so. Then why do houses have to be so colorless, inside and out? I hear people express FEAR of color -- is that it? Fear? I don't get that, really. Can anyone explain?

If I was an organizey kind of person I think I would try to start a movement to create a "Burano" neighborhood here in Portland, Oregon. If you're not familiar with Burano, it's the island in the Venetian lagoon where every house is a vibrant purple, pink, green, yellow, whatever. Many of these are pictures of Burano:

(Incidentally, can you pick out the photo that doesn't belong? Look at that dull middle one. WHY? And those that aren't Burano are either Hundertwasser or Gaudi, two wild colorific architects who if I was fabulously rich and a voodoo priestess I would resurrect to build me a house.) But honestly, I want to live in a more colorful world!

And here's another thing: why don't more people read non-mainstream fiction? Why do you have to be a true-blue fantasy nerd to read books involving the fantastic? Why is there such a stigma to "genre fiction" like fantasy, sci fi, and romance? I like all kinds of books. I recently read The Kite Runner, and a few books in a mystery series set in the British Raj era, and a few young adult fantasy novels, and the amazing Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tides, and Sarah Dunant's The Birth of Venus. There's mainstream literary fiction, period literary fiction, genre fiction and children's books. I love them all. But why do so many readers shun the "non-real"? To me, that's like being afraid of color, so I am honestly wondering. Why not grab a juicy vampire book now and then, or a great YA title? How about magic realism? Is that okay because it's "literary"?

I'm really not trying to sound reverse-snobby. I LIKE brown and grey. I like every color. Just, brown and grey get way more wallspace than they deserve. How about giving pink a chance, or yellow, or aqua? And how about someone who hasn't picked up a YA or a fantasy in a while bringing home a good one next time from the bookstore? Any takers?

P.S. the top photo is a sneak-peek of the color palette of my writing room, which is all done except it doesn't feel "lived in" yet -- there's barely any art on the walls or books on the shelf.

29 comments:

Kristy said...

I'm a color girl myself. I'm not afraid of it, and the thought of a fear of color strikes me as entirely incomprehensible. The colors in my life reflect the moods I'm capable of. Perhaps I should approach other "genres" of fiction with the same tack -- opening a new kind of book might open me to a new kind of mood. So, what would you suggest? ;-)

Tonya said...

I'm a girl not afraid of color. When people come to my house the typical comment is, "I wish I could be so brave."
I think that secretly means, "I can't believe how tacky you are."

Jamie said...

I want a t-shirt that says, "Give pink a chance!"

Alexandra S said...

Its your DIRECT influence over many years that has now culminated in my living in a yellow house with bright peach living room walls so just know that your passion for color is contagious! And I couldn't agree more with you. Every time I pass a house in Portland with bright colors I want to high five it. Why aren't we painting poetry on our mailboxes and garage doors, wrapping white lights year round around trees in the yard and painting our streets and trashcans with quotes that move us or make us laugh as we pass? We are conditioned to become as boring and dull and submissive as we can be, and so just know that you are fighting the good fight Miss Thinnychoochoo, keep it up!

Kim G. said...

I'll admit that I might be one of the ones who is a bit afraid of color. Maybe it's not really that, it's just that the beiges are easier to live with if you don't like them! Although I do have a brick red bathroom and a "denim jacket" blue wall in my living room. My daughter's room is a bright purple, so I guess I'm not a total color looser! :)

Deb R said...

YesYesYES to every single thing you said, from color to books! YES!!!

If I lived alone my house would be a sea of intense colors. I'd paint the walls, ceilings, furniture, all of it. If my husband lived alone, his house would be white, gray, black, maybe a little blue or green here and there. As it is, ours is somewhere in between. ;-)

chest of drawers said...

A big YAY! for colour!!! I am about to start painting my kitchen walls - I think aqua sounds like a good idea! As for books, I´ll read anything!

kelly rae said...

as you know, i'm a color girl myself. bring it on. i love painting every single room in my house a different color - they all have to somehow coordinate, but i can't ever live with white walls.

melba said...

I LOVE color too. I love the houses in (parts of) San Fran that are all lined up and colorful. Our house is white. We have a huge lack of color in our home. Part is because of money. We bought this house because it was affordable; it is a 1970's house and it is ugly. But if we didn't buy this home 6 years ago we would never have been able to live on one income and I honestly believe I would not have discovered blogging. So I am grateful to this house. I am not good at decorating and not a neat painter. My husband is though...he is opinionated about decorating and is a store manager for HomeGoods (do you know that store?)I painted our bathroom orange/yellow, everyone (who sees it) hates it, but me. Our next project HAS to be to complete the children's rooms. They have been in a transition because babies need different things than toddlers. Now that they both are in beds and don't need a changing table or a place to store diapers I/we need to make there rooms more reflective of who they are. I want Maggie's room to be a garden theme; I think that is something she can grow with. And for Ethan he has a bit of a transportation theme going on. I don't like the rooms to be too themey. Like I don't like character bedding...that is over the top for me.
Now I have rambled on. I just wanted to say I love color too!

Left-handed Trees... said...

I am with you on color--we have a BRIGHT crimson bathroom (which I am currently toying with the idea of painting a rich pumpkin--maybe it's the changing season?), our kids' rooms are awash with color, quotes, and murals...but, I am about to paint my library/office in the brownish-hues you mention as "getting too much wall-space". You may be right about that...for me, I am being bold with using these colors because I am doing the "bookshelf wall" in a DARK chocolate color--the other wall in a lighter cream-in-my-coffee hue, and the ceiling in a mid-range caramel. Add in some white woodwork, my books everywhere, my salvaged (yellow!) couch and come on, admit it--you'd want to curl up and read (YA books are genius)there...

Laini Taylor said...

Kristy - I'm going to compile a list of "genre" book recommendations; anyone want to help?

Jamie - I love the "Give pink a chance" idea!

Left-Handed - chocolate brown can be gorgeous. As I say, I love brown and grey, too. And chocolate brown with blue -- either teal or even accents of sky blue, is luscious.

Everybody - Yay, color! Let's get together and live in one neighborhood and paint it dazzling colors and mosaic all the sidewalks!

sophie said...

This was tremendous fun -
the town looks so inspiring
and uplifting as does your
room...:)

Amber said...

I SO AGREE!!! GAH! I swear, I HATE those block apon blocks of dull lame beige houses!! When I own our home, I always have planned to paint it red. I love red houses. With a bright blue door and window boxes.

The fear of color... That IS strange! What IS that about, I wonder? Just that one would get sick of it?

:)

la vie en rose said...

...how whimsical...

M said...

I'm loving your new writing room palate!! I love colour as well and can't wait to have my own house and paint it bright all over. I'm still in an apartment, so white walls are standard, but we are doing our own paintings, putting splashes of colour everywhere!

Lia said...

your writing room almost looks like my kitchen - I'm with you on the colour thing, and the book thing. Still hide beind the black / grey / rown thing with my clothes but once you come through the door of my flat its "tacky" all the way!

L

Daisy Lupin said...

One hundred per cent in agreement about books. I hate book snobs!. I love Charles de Lint's books, but when I mention what they are about a lot of people decide they 'don't like that sort of stuff'. Then there is Phillip Pullman's Northern Lights set, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's fairytale anthologies, Robin Jarvis's Wierd Museum series, Alice Hoffman, Sheri Tipper, oh I could go on and on,wonderful books for adults, children, young adults. Yes please compile a genre reading list, it will be so interesting.

Bethany said...

Agreed... 100%. Color is a MUST. We're moving, and man I am itching to get some color on the walls (and incidentally, the realtor was *shocked* when we mentioned we wanted to get in early to paint color on the newly painted BEIGE walls. We only shrugged and said, "We need a little color.").

And speaking of books, fantasy, and all things that cause someone to sneer in genre reading... the thing is, it's ALL fiction. We make shit up right (speaking as a writer of course)? Mainstream or not. So to me, it is one in the same. Raise your nose up in the air at me or not, I'll read what I want (dammit!). ;-)

deirdre said...

Oh, sigh. The inside of my house is still plain developer-white, that horrible shade of nothing that all new houses get slapped with. At least the outside has a new coat of paint - it's the most colorful house in the neighborhood! I have to admit to being a little timid with color, but not as bad as the sweet man I live with who seems to like?!? white walls. I'm just planting little seeds...

shoofly said...

I love color. At a young age I discovered that I see different colors in each eye...one eye sees things a little "cooler" than the other. Try it! Cover one eye and look at something, then cover the other and notice the subtle difference! Or maybe I'm just weird, but I asked my eye doctor about it and he said it was normal, our eyes are slightly different. I'm not crazy! yay!

My husband actually paints bright faux-finished walls for a living...he just finished a *huge* hot pink dining room with awesome gold stenciling over it...and another deep red and gold room (I think the title of the room in the house was "the grand salon")...and when we drive around at night we peek into peoples houses and can't believe how many people have white walls. so boring!

shoofly said...

i should add...i love the color palette of your writing room! the wall color is luscious!

Mardougrrl said...

Much love for the color palette as you describe it--and for your writing room. Honestly, that's one of the things I adore about India...it's a country suffused with lucious color everywhere!

And ITA about being open to the "non-real" in fiction--I love a whole variety of fiction, and honestly don't separate magical fiction from more realistic fiction. If it's vividly imagined and well-written, I am there.

paris parfait said...

Yes to aqua! And all bright colours, which are cheering and vibrant and alive! People need to be a little more adventurous, both in colours and in their reading selections. Too many people are afraid to venture out of their comfort zones. Can't wait to see more of your writing space.

Earth Monkey said...

how just completely appropriate that you wrote this today. I have been working on giving my office a facelift... so i appreciate the post TOTALLY! and I agree. I too wish I had some extra chump change to build a really superbly designed living space. Complete with vibrant palette. red brich orange and tiffany box blue would be the overall look. maybe a splash of brown. Good luck with the finishing touches in your writing room.

tinker said...

The colors of your new writing room are so luscious and juicy - your walls will vibrate with colorful inspiration! I even like white walls, too, though - just so you can splash some colorful stuff up against it and have it "pop" out at you all the more.

As for reading, I think I've read and enjoyed, novels of probably every genre - whether it be children's, YA, sci-fi, horror, magical realist, chick lit, fantasy, mystery, you name it. A good story is a good story, no matter what niche it falls into - or even if it doesn't fit into any one marketing category.

amy said...

Hi Laini - yes - yay for color! I've been reading (enjoying) bits of your blog for a little while - but haven't commented yet. I also live in lovely Portland. Do you know about this: http://womeninpublishing.com/?p=38
I thought of you when it was forwarded to me earlier today. Cheers!

Colorsonmymind said...

Thise colors are awsome. I have to say I stick to pale yellows, greens, blues and brown. I am a bit nervous about using a bright color.

You make very thoughtful observations and have given me a lot to think about.

I think I will go get a sci fi book-as I haven't read one in a long while:)

Gabrielle said...

After reading this post, I too have been wondering why this is so.

I think part of it is that people lack confidence when it comes to adding colour to their environments. They worry that once they have painted their house a unique colour, or bought their lime green car, that they won't be able to live with it, or that others will dissaprove of their choices.

I think also, that some people just aren't affected by colour to the degree that some of us are, (Colour is very important to me too). Additionally, some people don't listen to music and many people just don't read for pleasure at all.

Our capability of tuning into this type of stimuli can be attributed to a mixture of how we were raised and the environment we come from,(ie: Burano vs North American suburbia)as well as individual makeup(ie artistic and conceptual vs concrete and logical)

I guess what it comes down to is that humans are at once both very complex and very simple, and that we can be "wired" in many different ways in the way we think, and how tuned in we are to aesthetic pleasures.

My POV is that if our culture would only lighten up, our world would be a much more fun place if it began to value these unique, creative gifts that make us human.

Rosa said...

Love those colors! I remember as a child picking my favorite crayon out of the big box of crayola (the big box was something new!). It is fuscia, of course, and is still my fav to this day.