COLOUR IN OUR LIVES
Our Earth is full of colours. Colours are an integral part of our lives. The colours found in nature are important to us because we have adapted to survive in nature!
Colours are an important part of our visual arts, too, which is considered to be the first of the human professions, along with prostitution and begging!
In the modern concept, manipulation of colours to get a desired effect is believed to be both subjective and technical.
Basically, the multitude of colours we see are divided into groups: primary colours are colours in their own right, which cannot be made by mixing other colours — red, yellow and blue; secondary colours are colours we get by mixing the primary colours — green, purple, orange, etc.; and tertiary colours are colours we get by mixing the primary and secondary colours.
And the main bands of colours are six: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet, and according to Sir Isaac Newton, (1642-1747) mathematician and physicist and one of the eminent scientific intellects of all time, there are seven colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and indigo which most people find difficult to see . But the popular pattern with which an artist creates an ever-lasting colourful impression holds up to a set of twelve colours: black, grey, white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown and azure.
An expert on colours stated that: Colours by themselves are not a fundamental property of light but are often related to the physiological response of the eye to light. The colour of an object depends on both the physics of the object in its environment and the characteristic of the perceiving eye and brain. It is believed that the human eye can distinguish thousands of different colours – shades, hues and tints! Most humans have three types of colour receptors, the organs that receive colours and transmit them to the brain, but many animals, such as some species of spiders, some marsupials, birds, reptiles and several types of fish, and some women, have four types!!
It is interesting to know that a person’s perception of the colour of any object depends not only on the spectrum of light reflecting from its surface but also on a number of contextual clues so that the colour is perceived as relatively constant. This effect is known as “colour constancy”. For example, when we think of milk, we think of it in ‘white’ colour, but not in any other colour; when we think of blood, we think of it in ‘red’, but never in black, blue or green though there are some animals whose blood is other than red; and when we think of a leaf of a plant, we see it in green in our mind’s eye.
Just because we are now able to define colour and give it a colourful terminology, it does not mean that the concept and use of colour are new phenomena. Colours have been an integral part of the human societies since pre-historic times. From stone-age man, cave man, man in ancient civilisations to the present computer-man, all have been influenced by colours and all have used colours in their everyday life. The people in primitive societies used colour for war-paint (drawing colourful and fearsome designs on their face and body in order to frighten the enemy and also to show off their status), for decorating their deities, shrines, idols, totems; the man in the medieval societies used colour for their clothes, for decorating their dwellings, and more importantly, for representing themselves in other social activities, such as war, sport, traditional ceremonies, etc. And in the present modern societies, colour is in every aspect of life in general – just try to imagine how difficult it would be to have all ‘white’ toothbrushes in a family of four, they can never know which is whose, and how hard it would be for you to find your own car in a parking-lot when all the cars are painted ‘black’!
In nature, animals, not including man, have mastered the art of camouflage by having colours or by changing their colours to suit their surrounding, and some animals are with bright body colours, usually yellow and red, to warn their predators that they are toxic and so should be avoided.