Have you always had a good eye for color?

Q. Have you always had a good eye for color?
A. Ha ha, I wish! While I’ve always loved color, my eye and ego have had much to learn.

For example I painted the white kitchen in my first apartment a bright peppermint green [peppermint ice cream :: good; peppermint walls :: bad]. My roommates made me paint it back to white.

A few years later, awaiting the birth of my second child, I decided to “get my colors done,” so that after my figure returned I’d be ready to refresh my wardrobe. A personal color consultation involved spending a couple of hours with a specially trainàààed artist who held swatches of fabric in dozens of hues to your makeup-free face to see which ones made you sparkle and which ones made you look like something underneath a rock.

Wanting to impress the artist with my fabulous color sense I wore my favorite maternity dress. (Picture a bright orange tent with arms & legs. With an inset front panel of psychedelic colors and pattern. I made the dress myself. Oh yeah. )
The artist tried not to recoil in shock when I lumbered in.

According to the fan of colors he gave me at the end of our session, my color choices were 179.9° off target. My new colors were muted, understated, and relatively dark. I went home and cried.

Nonetheless I followed his counsel. As soon as the baby arrived I emptied my closet.

I took my color fan everywhere and began training my eye to discern the subtle differences between various shades each color. Without my fan “mistakes were made” when I tried to guess-match a particular shade of blue in the store to an article of clothing in my closet. But my eye learned.

The next phase was combining colors – arranging flowers and observing the subtle mixes in my garden through the seasons were delightful ways to train my eye. Some combinations just give me shivers of delight.

Simultaneously I got less and less timid about wall color. At first I thought all wall color in my home should come from my personal palette. Of course my husband’s palette was very different, so scratch that concept. I began experimenting with pulling colors out of our artwork and out of the landscape outside the window.

At this point, I don’t care if white walls return to fashion. I’m never going back.

But I’m also never going to try peppermint green again either.