February 12, 2018

Nature's Color Palette

moss color palette

I've been thinking about color lately. Many of us talk about color being wiped from the landscape during the winter, and it can certainly seem that way on dark days in December, January, and early February.

But the colors are still there, aren't they? They aren't as obvious because the light is low, the colors aren't as intense, and the grays and browns dominate. On many winter days, we see a lot of this:

white

Or more accurately, this:

snow

Even the snow incorporates shades of gray, metallics, and even browns and blues.

Because color pops against white, and when the sun is bright, berries and the stems of Red Osier Dogwoods add shades of dramatic burgundy and maroon and red to the landscape:

maroon red

There's a certain blue-gray of a cloudy winter sky that seems to cry for brightness; while on other days, the sky sings in shades of crystal-clear, bright blues:

             gray blue    blue gray

Greens are everywhere: the dark, nearly black shades of the conifers, as well as the lighter, vibrant mossy greens:

             dark green    mossy

Of course, brown is always present, too, but oh so many shades of brown--from the dark browns of Oak leaves and soil, to the rusty, golden tones of moss sporophytes and the rainbows of browns on turkey tail fungi:

             brown    golden

When we pull together all the colors in our minds, a simple color mosaic begins to paint the picture, with snow as a central element ... when it's present:

winter color collage

But that's not enough: There are so many patterns and shadings in between. Evergreens are often blue-green, and that blue-gray sky is mixed with clouds:

Color Collage

It's insufficient and it's truly just the start of an endless panorama of color. But it helps to paint the picture of winter's colors. Winter, actually, is quite a colorful season if we care to look closely:

Winter Collage

* * * * * * * * * *

Note: In every season, I've been noticing fun color combinations and inspiring shades of color that feed my creativity. I'm not a painter, but sometimes I think, "Gosh, that chartreuse would be lovely in a sweater over a moss green blouse," or, "I've never realized how many shades of cyan are found in nature."

I've added a sidebar widget to this blog so I can record current inspiring colors around me. Do you ever feel inspired by the colors of nature?

38 comments:

  1. This is a fabulous pots Beth. I think about these colors often. I even try to paint from time to time. Of course the paintings rarely capture what I want to see but it is fun to try.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! I'd love to see your paintings sometime. That is a talent I do not have. But I do have the vision. ;-) Sometimes the color combinations I notice take my breath away. The other day, the blue-gray sky reflecting on the lake, with children sledding nearby...pure magic!

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  2. A terrific post, Beth. I love the way you laid it out.

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    1. Thank you, Pat! Sometimes the colors are so magical!

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  3. You know I love colors....with the amount of snow we get it is hard to see more than gray, blue and white...even green is covered....except on rare sunny days then the colors abound more!

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    1. We've been very white lately, too. But the colors are still there! In fact, they pop more than when the landscape is gray and brown. But I know what you mean...snow, snow everywhere! ;-)

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  4. I agree with Pat. I love the way you gradually filled in the colors with pictures of the natural world.

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    1. Thank you, Kathy. The colors are populating my head right now. I wish I could paint. Computer play (and photography) is the next best thing. :)

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  5. You put together some great collages, Beth. Have you ever look at the Design Seeds webpage (www dot design-seeds dot com)? If not, you may want to take a look as it also presents nature as a color palette.

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    1. Hi Kris: No, I hadn't heard of that site. I checked it out, and it's wonderful! Apparently she sees color palettes all around her like I do. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. This is sooo neat! And I will enjoy it again in the morning :)

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    1. Thanks, Hollis. It was fun and interesting to put it together. I've been thinking about this topic for years. It's hard to put it into words (and colors and pictures).

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  7. Your collages are fabulous and caused me to think more about the rich palette of nature's winter colors. Beautiful!

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    1. Thanks, Peter. One of the awesome things about this topic is that the colors and shades are always changing, so a person could probably do a new palette every day!

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  8. Brilliant! I love driving to Milwaukee in Nov. when the variety of gold and brown is so striking.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. I agree--November is really a stunning (and underrated month). A little too cold and dark, but the colors are fascinating.

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  9. Absolutely. People here say my garden is brown and dead. Not.
    I used a photo of the beach to inspire first colours for my current blog, then for this house. LOVE colour.

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    1. Oh my goodness, Diana, your garden is so alive and colorful! How could anyone say that?! The beach, your plants, your garden design...it's all wonderful!

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  10. What a great post and you are right we should be enjoying the more subtle palette of winter.

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    1. Thank you, Chloris! I often think about the color combinations in terms of interior design and fashion. I can't draw them, but my mind constantly imagines unique color pairings.

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  11. Agreed--a great post and excellent reminder for we whiners during winter: there is color and life, you just might need to look a bit harder and be more open!

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    1. I'm one of those whiners. ;-) But thinking about this stuff (and all the science and magic of nature and the garden) helps me make it through the winter.

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  12. Winter is a harder to find the color in my neck of the woods with the mostly brown landscape, like your white blanket of snow. I think it makes me look harder and find the smallest details since I'm not distracted by bright blooms or other insects. I think it's nature's way of making us slow down and appreciate the small things. I am going to go out and look at my garden with the color scheme you showed in your post.

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    1. Good point! Nature has so many lessons to teach us. I enjoy the white of winter...if only it wasn't so cold. It does help to insulate our plants in this harsh climate. I agree, re: the slowing down and focusing on small details. Those practices nurture much joy. :)

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  13. What a great post! I have to tell you I paused for a moment over the first photo, thinking my computer was slow in loading a photo:) Too often at this time of year I see only brown and gray, but you have inspired me to look closer for other colors. Oh, and let's not forget the bright red of the cardinals and the red-bellied woodpecker's head or the lovely blue of bluejays.

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    1. Thank you, Rose. I figured the white "snow" might give people pause. LOL. Hopefully, it helped make the point that color seems to be washed away. Amen about the cardinals, red-bellied woodpeckers, and blue jays (and other colorful birds)! They absolutely brighten up our winter days, don't they?!

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  14. Very interesting. You may not be a painter, but you sure are artistic!

    Your collages reminded me of the work of Piet Mondrian, one of my favorite modern artists - https://www.wikiart.org/en/piet-mondrian/by-genre/abstract

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    1. Thanks, Aaron! My mind works in creative ways, I guess. It would be nice to be able to draw or paint, but I certainly appreciate that talent in other folks! Yes, I'm familiar with Piet Mondrian. :)

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  15. Very good post, but I'm still tired of winter.

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    1. Thanks, Jason. Me, too, but we've had it pretty easy this year. February is always the hardest month for me.

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  16. I love the colours of nature, and appreciate the subtlety of different shades of green and grey. But today I went for a walk and noticed several examples of bright red and yellow flower combos, and they looked really good in the bright sunshine. I've not spent much time with snow, but if you are observant there must be lots of colour, just that the differences are subtle. Great post, Beth.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, no matter what the conditions there are fascinating colors to observe. It's funny: I really do think about clothing pairings based on color combinations I've noticed. Bright reds and yellows are so alive and hopeful! I often plant a lot of oranges, red-oranges, and yellows in my annual garden. They're beautiful and they also attract hummingbirds. :)

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  17. I did a little bit of painting not too long ago, and it was amazing how much it opened up my eyes to color. Artists must see the world in such a different way, noticing all the colors and light and textures. Snow is so much more than just white. What a nice way to look at what sometimes seems like a rather boring world out there!

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    1. Oh gosh, yes, I can only imagine what the painters see in nature! I'm only looking with an amateur photographer/gardener/naturalist's eye, and I see incredible shades of color and nuances of texture. Snow--if it wasn't so cold--would be a fascinating subject to photograph regularly.

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  18. An ingenious post and winter color search. I know they are, but I prefer more intense colors and a greater palette of colors. Regards.

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    1. Thank you, Giga. I admit I prefer the warm and bright colors and seasons, too. But sometimes the winter colors are beautiful in their own way. :)

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  19. Very interesting post! The color palette of winter is rich but usually more limited and more muted than at other times of the year, so then patterns of light and dark and tiny details become much more important.

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    1. Thanks! Agreed. It's really hard to notice on a cloudy, dark day, but on brighter days the colors and shades really pop. I'll never forget the recent day when I was driving through town with that gray/blue, melancholy, late-afternoon sky ... and children sledding down the hill in all their colors of sleds and snowsuits. Memories are so powerful, especially when we remember the colors. :)

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