Its Orange Glow” — Colours of Life

Colours of Life collage featuring Orange glow

The colours of life are many and var­ied, this is some­thing we learn as we trav­el the jour­ney. If you have fol­lowed on Face­book me over the past few months you will be aware that I have been busy renew­ing this old house of ours. Putting that final coat onto our bed­room walls, gave me a great work­ing title for a new arti­cle, “its orange glow”. Spend­ing much of that time think­ing also gave me some of the con­tent.


Struggles of Life

What colour is the bed­room wall? It has been all sorts of colours over the past week, but that also reminds me of the strug­gles of life. Per­haps best described as the vary­ing colours of life.

You have an idea how you wish some­thing to look. In this case it was a colour to reflect the morn­ing sun­shine, as it streamed into one of the two win­dows. Rep­re­sent­ing one of the colours of life for us. One of the win­dows faces east so catch­es the ear­li­est morn­ing rays of the sun both in the win­ter and sum­mer. The oth­er faces south, so it catch­es the morn­ing sun­shine only in win­ter, but the rest of the year catch­es the sun all the way till late evening.

A touch of colour by Green StreetBefore paint­ing I had spent many days repair­ing parts of the wall, sand­ing down the patch­es left when the insu­la­tion work­ers filled it, repair­ing blem­ish­es etc. Before paint­ing I thought it would be a good idea to sand it all down to aid paint absorp­tion, leav­ing a thick lay­er of dust over every­thing. The rate of absorp­tion can, at times, be some­thing of a strug­gle. It could be described as a part of the colours of life. I knew this from one of the ear­li­er walls I had worked on. Despite all the prepa­ra­tion the paint on that ear­li­er wall absorbed into a cracked eggshell style, blobs of per­fect colour, with a jagged edge around each. Approx­i­mate­ly 1 cm square leav­ing the colour of the bare wall shin­ing through.

This time it was dif­fer­ent. The orange glow colour react­ed with the ear­li­er light green shade to turn a very odd shade. This had lit­tle to do the intend­ed colour. It was uni­form across the walls, except in the areas where I had com­plet­ed some work, filled holes etc. These areas turned the per­fect colour. I need­ed an extra pot of paint and more lay­ers to fin­ish the job. Now it is per­fect. Just as intend­ed. The right colours of life.


Thoughts While Painting

Nobody said writ­ing was sim­ple. In fact the chal­lenges of putting pen to paper reflect the chal­lenges that every­one faces in life. I am not talk­ing here about writer’s block, there is always plen­ty to write about. You sit and write a sen­tence intend­ing to craft some­thing pro­found. Yet when com­plete it remains plain and sim­ple, mod­er­ate­ly inspir­ing. Part of the prob­lem is word choice, or per­haps how to tell the sto­ry, or where to begin.

Life has many shades of colour, yet in writ­ing we use a black-on-white medi­um to rep­re­sent what can received through a mul­ti­tude of sens­es. Do you remem­ber that pic­turesque vil­lage you once vis­it­ed? As you look out from the vil­lage green across the square you receive a mul­ti­tude of sen­su­al inputs. Each of these helps you enjoy your time here, whether you have stopped for a moment or a life­time. How do you turn those colours, sounds, smells into a memory?

Colours of Life - BowlerThe human mind will store them all in such a way that we can always recall them.

I remem­ber the Eng­lish vil­lage where we lunched at the pub next to the vil­lage green. Oppo­site fif­teen men, dressed in white, played crick­et. The green was immac­u­late­ly kept with grass the per­fect length. Then there was the flash of a bat, a shout, a deci­sion, clap­ping, and a six­teenth man walked onto the field. The bats­man had poor­ly angled the ball towards mid-off and caught out, caus­ing the momen­tary com­mo­tion. As the oncom­ing bats­man passed the one leav­ing the field it was clear that a warn­ing or instruc­tion passed between the men. It was at that moment that our lunch arrived, bring­ing with it won­der­ful smells the assault the nose. “Ah! Just what we need­ed.” Was the thought expressed.


Colours of Life

The beau­ty of relay­ing a mem­o­ry is that many peo­ple will have sim­i­lar mem­o­ries. Read­ers will to some extent fill in the blanks from their own mem­o­ries. The descrip­tion can be as pre­cise as we wish it, or left loose, allow­ing the read­er to link their own expe­ri­ences to the sto­ry. If you have nev­er seen an Eng­lish vil­lage green you may have some knowl­edge (from films or TV) to fill in the gaps. If you know noth­ing about the game of crick­et then you know just about the same as half of Eng­land. For this sto­ry all that is rel­e­vant is that there are two teams play­ing and both clad in white, the umpires wore white coats. Know­ing noth­ing about crick­et does not dimin­ish the val­ue of the sto­ry. The crick­et match sim­ply aids the picture.

As we moved into the era of the com­put­er I have long won­dered about the val­ue that colour would bring the writ­ten word. I dis­cussed this with an ear­ly piece on this blog.

Hyper­links on pages have colour, some­times page titles (or sub-titles) may also be coloured, but it is rare that we use colour in nor­mal writ­ten text. There are of course some chal­lenges, such as those that expe­ri­ence red-green colour-blind­ness. Per­haps emo­tions could be con­veyed through colour, e.g. this plum, or vio­let, colour could be used to rep­re­sent anger. Pos­si­bly this blue could be used to show calm. Yet we would have to agree on a stan­dard to adopt. One area I think it could help is with char­ac­ters talk­ing in nov­els, espe­cial­ly where there are sev­er­al pages worth of dis­cus­sion between two people.

Some edu­ca­tors use colour to help chil­dren under­stand the parts of speech. An idea I do applaud — imag­i­na­tive use of new technology.


Moment of Clarity

Written down by Green StreetAs I paint­ed there was a moment when the dry wall start­ed to resem­ble the desired colour. There were some shad­ows show­ing, but the final coat was near. I may have had to buy an extra can of paint but the end result was now in sight. That is so with writ­ing. Once com­mit­ted to, the project must be fin­ished.

How would we change the colour of writ­ing? Writ­ing can be colour­ful, yet remain black on white. Through ear­ly VDU screens we tried green on black and amber on black but I think most peo­ple will recall how unsat­is­fac­to­ry those tech­nolo­gies were. Peo­ple love colour. There is no mis­tak­ing that fact. The chal­lenge with print­ing a book in colour is one of cost. Read­ers do not wish to pay more for their read­ing mate­r­i­al. Yet with blogs and e-books there is no addi­tion­al cost in using colour, just the will (or desire) to use it.

For now, I see colour as a device to give clar­i­ty. Noth­ing more. I do encour­age the use of colour. In some respects the colour of the lan­guage can be asso­ci­at­ed with our upbring­ing, per­haps where we were born. An Eng­lish­man may use dif­fer­ent tones than an Amer­i­can, but we still use the same lan­guage to con­vey our ideas. That is impor­tant, even when there are minor dif­fer­ences. What are the colours of life for you? Do you embed them in your writing?


Other Related Material

Anoth­er colour­ful step. Just as I had fin­ished writ­ing. After com­plet­ing the first edit. The inter­net con­nec­tion crashed. Talk about writ­ing lessons from life…

You may find the fol­low­ing mate­r­i­al useful:




Buy Peter B. Giblett a cof­fee as thanks for dis­cussing the colours of life and how it impacts your writ­ing. Please add your thoughts. Images includ­ed here are from roy­al­ty free pub­lic domain image col­lec­tions, like Pixabay.
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