OK… so I don’t have a lot of gray hair.  But with the very dark brown that I do have, I feel like it jumps out and screams “you are getting old!”  So this morning as I grabbed the hair color and donned the shower cap to ‘dye that gray right out of my hair’ – I got to thinking about color.

I’m a big fan of color and how it is used.  I’ve studied it. I designed and taught a class about it when I worked for Simple Scrapbooks™ Magazine, and I had the pleasure of learning from a real guru there — founding editor Stacy Julian.

I plan to do some blogging about color so I can share my passion – but not my gray – with others.  Today we’ll start as I did, looking at gray.

Gray is a neutral, not actually a “color” if you want to be technical.  (I don’t.)

Gray is a cool, conservative color that many say seldom evokes strong emotion although it can be seen as a cloudy or moody color.

I disagree.

When I see gray hair on my head, I feel some emotion, let me assure you!  Why does gray hair mean “old” for women and “distinguished” for men?  Maybe men need a color kudo since they don’t have much control when their hair starts falling off their head like leaves during October in New England. (Sorry guys– I feel your pain!)

Light gray with pastel colors can create a feminine feel.

Darker grays, especially when combined with black and/or deep jewel tones, creates more powerful or masculine looks.

To the right is an example of an ad I recently received in my inbox that uses gray to help the other colors ‘pop’. But the overall feel is very classic and calming, don’t you think?

Now just to illustrate how one color change can make a huge difference, I have replaced the gray with black. Quite a different feel, don’t you think? It is almost Halloween-ish, with the bright orange and black together.

In the original version (with the gray), whoever chose the colors did a wonderful job combining vibrant colors with gray so we don’t get an “old, moody or dingy feel” but a calm, fresh and vibrant one.  (Which is what I hope I have achieved with the hair color this morning!)

Look at your use of neutrals with color and make sure the colors you are choosing are supporting the message and mood you want to convey.

Here’s to the beginning of a colorful relationship — Tara

P.S. My friend and fellow artist Brenda Pinnick (who is quite a whiz with color) convinced me to give up using photographs as the background image on my computer and instead, using a very neutral gray. (R: 124 G:124 B:124).  Using the gray will allow your colors to look their ‘truest’ when working on your art in Photoshop™ or any other program.  If you have colors behind your work, it will affect what your eye sees.  To learn more from Brenda, check out her blog at: http://brendapinnick.typepad.com/