The Sum of All Colours

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“Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.” 
Coco Chanel

White

White is both the absence of any colour and the sum of all colours in concert. White, like the colour black, brings contrast to our lives.  Symbolizing purity, innocence, honesty, death and rebirth, beginning and end, this is the colour that brings us cold milk, fluffy cumulus clouds, polished alabaster, and freshly fallen snow.

The priests and priestesses of Ancient Egypt dressed in white linen in reverence to the goddess Isis.   Ancient Greece associated white with mother’s milk; Roman citizens over a certain age wore a white toga for ceremonial occasions. Medieval and Renaissance tapestries, manuscripts and paintings highlighted the white unicorn as a symbol of purity and grace. Even today, white is reserved for our extraordinary moments – weddings, births, and in some cultures, funerals.

As a contrast colour, white brings a sense of the dramatic.  Whether it is the red and white of the Canadian Maple Leaf flag, white chalk against a blackboard, or the twinkling stars against the black sky, we pay attention. Pablo Picasso once asked, “Why do two colours, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No. Just as one can never learn how to paint.”

Colours are a cultural reflection of our lives and the society that we create.  We draw from the world around us for insight and affirmation. John Ruskin, the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, once said that “The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most.”  Colour inspires us to express ourselves beyond words, to imagine a kinder, gentler lifestyle.

“White is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. God paints in many colours; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.” 
G.K. Chesterton

38 thoughts on “The Sum of All Colours

    • So glad that you enjoyed this series! There is so much more to explore on this subject that I will return to colours in future posts. But, there is something that I have been wanting to look into for quite some time, so I am off on another tangent! That you for your support and encouragement.

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  1. It’s like the rests between the notes, isn’t it? We need white to show off the other colours, but it has, as you say, a pure beauty of its own.

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    • Thank you! Lilacs remind me of my music teacher’s backyard! It was worth practicing during the week just to get a peek at her gardens. I felt I was in a fairy land…

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  2. Love this post – and oh I could almost smell the lilac !!!
    I have masses of white flowers in my garden and always try to find the white varieties of every plant, because they show up as the light is fading…

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    • I do wish that I could stop by for tea in your garden! The fragrance and colours of nature would compliment the lively discussion!!! And then there are all of your animal friends that would stop by for a chat. 🙂

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    • Coco was right. There is a harmony between the two that is indisputable yet there are subtle contradictions. Serene, but bold, dramatic, but understated. It is as if they are the perfect dance partners. 🙂

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  3. I like playing with the graphics programs. You can make so many blends of beautiful colors.
    Do you remember ever being told: “No, you can’t wear this color with that.”
    OR
    “Sorry, after September that color is out of style.”

    I think most of us now feel we can mix and match any color any time and enjoy our own choice. And the best part is not caring who thinks what about it. 🙂

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    • I remember and then smile at all of the rules and regulations that we place on our lives! You and Coco think alike!

      “The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.”

      “I don’t do fashion, I AM fashion.”

      Coco Chanel

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  4. I so enjoy your posts Becky but “especially” these on “colors”!!! Love, Joeleen

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    • Thank you so much for joining the dialogue! I remember when I was very young, we visited your home. I still remember the fairy tale dessert you made. Pavlova with the most beautiful strawberries. Red and white! I can still remember how delicious it was!!! 🙂

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  5. For some reason, white reminds me of “light”. Someone has told me that colors in heaven have a depth and width that we here on earth cannot perceive.

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    • I remember the first time we have a visual of earth for outer space. What a beautiful world we live in – the light of the sun enhanced the colours of the oceans and continents! 🙂

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  6. What a wonderful way of concluding your Color series! You may not know this. Your Color series had inspired me to read more e.g. of …Leonardo da Vinci ‘s Color Theory, of Aristotle’s theory of the four elements( very interesting comparing to the Chinese Five Elements. Thanks again for being an inspiration yourself!

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    • I am continually amazed by the connections that occurred across the globe, years before the advent of our communication technologies. Knowledge is universal; and knowledge acquisition seems to occur spontaneously, even within the same time frame. Thank you for your heartwarming comments – we inspire each other and thereby gain a broader, more inclusive understanding of our world and timeline.

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  7. Glorious blossoms, Rebecca. White is beautiful, and it goes with every other colour under the sun. I always think that red roses look so much better with a little white gypsophela to set them off. That crisp white shirt is always in fashion too.

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    • I agree! White has a way of gently bringing together all of the colours. It adds balance and harmony. Your comments brought to mind the quote from Rabindranath Tagore. “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

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  8. Pablo Picasso is so right , how can you describe color or painting for that matter, for me I like all colors, I love to embrace all of them even black, Coco Channel is right both color offer so much. Great photo!

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    • Thank you so much! There is so much more to colour than I even imagined. It is like peeling an onion. There are so many layers to this subject that I will come back to it again in the future. I like how you said that your “embraced all of them, even black.”

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  9. I may never think of white the same again. Beautiful photo, lovely words, and loved the quotes, esp. the G.K. Chesterton words.

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    • Thank you Lori! Over they years, I would read a quote to start my day. It would centre my focus on the thoughts that would add, not subtract from the present. It is so easy to slip into mediocrity when your forget to think boldly, courageously, passionately. This blog is all about starting my day with a quote. I am honoured to have met so many kindred spirits along the way.

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