Monday, September 14, 2015

Color Spells

We lose so much when we allow our vocabulary to dissipate into red, blue, and yellow clouds. It was recently brought to my attention that using color in one’s writing is an incredible way to evoke emotion, add impact, and invigorate descriptions. I love visuals. I love the amount of information that can be transmitted through a single image. I love the emotion that a person can communicate with one look, one glance. I love the aura of a landscape, the difference between the mountains and the desert, the ocean and the swamp.  All those things require the application of powerful magic to transform into words on a page that, in their turn, will transform, with an even more powerful magic, into images in some other person’s head.

In the pursuit of magic then, here is a kaleidoscopic assortment of hues, tints, shadows and saturations. Words far more powerful than mere “orange” “green” and “purple.”

On a car ride through the cascades, my family and I brainstormed words for the changing leaves outside. We got saffron, pumpkin, scarlet, russet, cinnamon, flame, rust, honey, lemon, topaz, and
ochre. Then we talked about the greens that were flashing by. Fern, lime, ivy. Dad suggested spirulina, which, while not a beautiful word, has strong chromatic connotations. Katey, after peppering us with things like “grass-green,” “tree-green,” and “bright green,” suggested “pea-green.” I reluctantly thought of chartreuse. I resent that chartreuse is not a deep, warm red, like burgundy or puce. Chartreuse sounds red, a Mediterranean, dramatic red. Not the greenish-yellow that it is.
From there colors came in a festive shower, rose, ashy, charcoal, fuschia, teal, algae, iron, periwinkle, smoke, cherry, cobalt, snow, muddy, walnut, ice, mustard, moonlight, plum.

Then I started extorting words for eye colors as interest faded, forcing our jaded imaginations to come up with five alternative adjectives for green, brown, hazel, blue, gray, and black.
We got mahogany, coffee, clove, clay and dust for brown eyes, moss, mint, fir, pine, and summer leaves for green. To describe grey there is stone, iron, steel, ash, and pepper. Onyx, tar, shadows, and obsidian for black, along with this gem: chocolate chip. “The child grinned mischievously, his chocolate chip eyes sparkling.” Blue yielded denim, marine, indigo, distant mountains, and glacier. And yes, I know several people with eyes that are a light, icy blue for which “glacial” is a perfect description. Hazel, not surprisingly, was the hardest, but we finally came up with cedar, chai, juniper, olive, and a winter field. 

To wrap up this florid revel, consultation of the internet gave me vermilion, verdigris, cranberry, garnet, pomgranate, wine, heliotrope, amethyst, smalt, azure, blush, jasper, and cannon.

Lots and lots and lots of magical words. Way better than abracadabra or bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.