The theme for SDAWP Photo Voices this week is “yellow.” Last week was “red” and it was surprisingly easy to find interesting red things. Yellow… so far… not so much. So early this morning,, after being pounced on by the puppy at 5:34 A.M. precisely (every, single. morning. 5:34 A.M. ) I took my trusty “big camera” out on a yellow walk.
As I walked I meta-cognated (it is too a word! and if it isn’t, it ought to be). Why was yellow harder to find? Where does yellow become orange and when does it become brown? And what about how yellow makes you feel? And why didn’t I enjoy my yellow walk as much as my red walks last week?
From Psychological Properties of Colours by Angela Wright
Positive: Optimism, confidence, self-esteem, extraversion, emotional strength, friendliness, creativity.
Negative: Irrationality, fear, emotional fragility, depression, anxiety, suicide.
The yellow wavelength is relatively long and essentially stimulating. In this case the stimulus is emotional, therefore yellow is the strongest colour, psychologically. The right yellow will lift our spirits and our self-esteem; it is the colour of confidence and optimism. Too much of it, or the wrong tone in relation to the other tones in a colour scheme, can cause self-esteem to plummet, giving rise to fear and anxiety. Our “yellow streak” can surface.
Well then… What an amazingly powerful color–both optimism and depression, self-esteem and emotional fragility, emotional strength and anxiety? Maybe my eyes didn’t know what to think as they scanned the streets and fields on my morning walk.
This discovery lead me to think about a short story my artsy cousin K shared with me years ago. It’s called The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (full text here).In some ways similar to The Bell Jar, the author here has shared a ficitonalized account of her own forays into mental illness (forays? perhaps not quite). I read a few literary critiques about the story and there is a lot of discussion about the underlying themes of “andocentric hegemony” and allegorical reference to “yellow journalism.” For my purposes today though, how about a close look at the color yellow? Out of 6000 words yellow appears only 10 times excluding the title (thank you Google Chrome “find” option.)
Then half of them in this excerpt:
While I’m tempted to squirrel away my yellow photos in order to have something to share all week, this contemplation makes me want to show what I have today and challenge myself to keep looking–warring emotional well-being and all.
So here is the yellow wallpaper of my walk today