The Importance of Orange

I'm taking a class on creative thought, and this week the instructor asked us to focus on our one favorite color. 

One color, I thought. Just one? I love so many vibrant greens, deep dusky blues, fiery oranges, and bold yellows.  How could I choose one?  
But then she described it as the color you would grab in a house fire, and a voice in my head said very clearly, “orange.”  In fact it said it over and over every time the phrase came up.  House fire?  Orange.  Only rescue one color?  Orange.  Undeniably, unreservedly orange.  

When I looked at my art and around my house, and it was everywhere. Nothing pale or pastel.  Not much sherbet or peach to speak of, but the bold, bright oranges—cadmium, tangerine—and the deep, rich ones that seem to be layered over reds and maybe a hint of brown—rust, persimmon.  I checked my wardrobe and didn’t see much, and then with a pang I remembered my favorite orange boiled wool jacket that was torn beyond repair two years ago.  Wearing that jacket always made me feel simultaneously safe and bold.  (Now, of course, I’m on the hunt for a new one. If you know of the perfect one, be sure to give me a shout.)

So, why orange?  Why is it the color I can't live without? I’m not sure.  To me orange is a color that cannot be denied.  It is elemental.  It is the color of coals burning deep in a fire.  It is the color of rust blooming on a metal sign. And here in South Alabama, it is the color of the red clay dirt beneath our feet.  Like my jacket, using the color orange in art gives me the feeling of safety and boldness—the safety of being grounded to the earth, and the undeniable energy of a burning ember.

Now that I'm thinking about orange, I’m looking forward to using it with more insight. First, I'm going to make a few sampler pages to help me better understand the oranges in my arsenal.   I'll make one page of orange paints and other materials mixed with reds, one page of orange paints and other materials mixed with my yellows, and one page of oranges mixed entirely from my reds and yellows.  It sounds like a lot of work (and a lot of digging through disorganized supplies), but I’m excited!

What does orange mean to you? Find me on Facebook or Instagram and let me know!


Leave a comment