Decoding Color Exquisitely

The only kind of high that I like is a color high.  I’m coming down off one now and it’s a dreamy, soft descent.  It started with a gentle glow at a book reading on Sunday afternoon, amid an eager crowd, hearing women whispering of paint and clothing colors as I found a seat.  Then mother and daughter authors, Joann and Arielle Eckstut, took to the podium and filled the room with laughter, delight and many a gasp, as they shared favorite snippets from their their visually stunning book, The Secret Language of Color (officially on sale October 22nd but available for preorder here ).

With slides to accompany their talk, they confounded the audience with optical illusions; bookreadingwowed us with nature’s beauty and challenged our brains with the physics of color.  (For the record, that tree that fell in the forest without a sound?  It was colorless too.)  Our magical journey through the rainbow involved leaps through history, trips over seas and reflections on the sky; we put on robes of the aristocracy and the eyes of bees.

And, then just as I was getting the hang of flying through time and space, and inhabiting other species minds’, the color ride and indeed Q&A time was over and the pot of gold – the book itself – was at the cash register.  Legs moved fast and for a short while the vibe turned tense as there appeared to be a shortage of copies of books for sale. “That one is mine! But, yes, you can look!” I heard several times.

Outside, sitting in the sun (Book Passage in Corte Madera has the nicest set up), I dived into the book, then splashed around like a dolphin, frolicking in the sea.  I delved deeper at home.  The book  tantalizes, but more importantly, it satisfies.  It’s the kind of book you can enjoy for a minute here and there just as much as an hour now and then. The photos are glorious and seemingly never-ending, the graphics flawless and the writing is charming. And, for those of you who often feel cheated of intellectual depth in coffee table books, you can rejoice!  There is real substance here.  Spare yourself three years of color related research and read this.  (With the saved time, you might like to try out the recipe for tyrian purple (purple made the old fashioned way).  Warning: you need 1000 mollusks and good aim.)

Obsessed with color as it relates to the human body, my own favorite morsels include:

  • learning that humans are better able to discern shades of yellow than any other hue.
  • seeing Pierre David’s Human Pantone rainbow collage, comprised of (photos of) human skin.  (It is beautiful not macabre!) Enjoy that artistry here.
  • discovering that plants have small amounts of melanin too, evident in fruits that bruise!

Speaking of which, I knew that our color vision was thought to have developed to allow us to find the ripest fruits. But there is a new theory, did YOU know?  

  • Our vision may have evolved to being more complex  (though not as complex as a butterfly’s) to better understand other people around us! That leg is a bit blue, that face is turning green, that person’s chest and now neck and now face is going RED!  Respond!!!

No one, the Eckstuts will tell you, is an expert in color, yet you certainly feel a lot smarter with words from these women at your fingertips.  In addition to being authors, Joann Eckstut, founder of The Roomworks, is an interior designer and color consultant; her daughter, Arielle Eckstut is a professional Book Doctor and co-founder of LittleMissMatched.  Both predict annual color trends for the Color Association of the United States, Joann for interiors/environment and and Arielle for young fashion.

My hour at the reading was fabulous enough but then I had the additional pleasure (hence the sustained color high) to chat with these woman again the next day as I showed them how I find personal colors.  It was quite a treat.

. joann and arielle

Almost done…joannfinalfan


Joann’s also has shiny silvers, some plums and more warm reds.

Arielle’s also has nearly stark whites, lucky-in-the-East yellows and a few more orange-reds. 

The black and silver in the middle are shared.  

Now, go and get this book.  You can’t, in all seriousness, call yourself a Colorista, a Color Freak or a Color Nerd without it.  It’s also a great  gift for any of your friends who fancy themselves part scientist/social scientist/artist or trivial pursuit master.  Even a color blind, mathematician friend would probably love it.  It’s that good.  Really.  (Buy it hereor, support your local bookseller.)

The beautiful fabric swatches I use are part of Debra Lindquist‘s Color Profiles System.


19 thoughts on “Decoding Color Exquisitely

  1. Nina

    Oh, this is intriguing! Something for the Christman wish list! Do you know if there will be an ebook (or is this the kind of book that only works in print?)? Your palettes for Joann and Arielle are so beautiful. I love that both are already wearing the right colors in their glasses! I know from experience that is so hard to find! 🙂

    1. beautyvalued Post author

      Nina – I didn’t think to ask if here will be an ebook, but you DEFINITELY want this beauty in hard copy, hard cover format. It’s like having an aquarium, telescope, stack of National Geographics and a slew of beautiful cook books all in one place. And more. And, yup, they both had FABULOUS taste in picking their frames, didn’t they?!? So great when what’s worn all the time is perfect.

    1. beautyvalued Post author

      Elizabeth, you won’t be disappointed! It’s such a fun, fascinating, eye-satisfying filled read. And thank you!!!!

  2. Joy

    How wonderful to be able to do the colours for two colour professionals:) I wonder if the book will be available overseas. Thank you for the write up.

    1. beautyvalued Post author

      Gosh, I hope it will be available in the UK soon, Joy! Otherwise I’ll have to lug over copies when I come next summer for you to enjoy! Thank you for reading!

    1. beautyvalued Post author

      Judging by Joann and Arielle’s companies’ names, these women are excellent at thinking up names, so I think I’ll leave it to them…But if I learn of names or am asked to come up with some, I’ll be sure to share! I know everyone has fun hearing name choices!

  3. Ana

    Now I’m intrigued! Beautifully written article and beautiful palettes for colorful ladies.Now that book sounds like a perfect Christmas present…

  4. arielle eckstut

    Kathy, thank you for the beautiful post. It made our day, week, year! And thank you to your wonderful readers for their interest in our book. It is available in the UK, Australia, and soon to be available in lots of other translations as well. I’ll have to think on those palette names…xo Arielle

  5. beautyvalued Post author

    You are SO welcome, Arielle! Now I’m musing on the bit about the name “orange” and how that will work in translation!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s