Wednesday, April 6, 2016

More than 50 shades of grey - a thesaurus for colors

I love colors, not just the primary ones that we learned in kindergarten like red, blue, green and yellow, but all the shades in between. Even if we think the rainbow is made up of only seven colors, there are so many more, nuances between each one infinitesimally small. I also love words, descriptive words that can describe the many different oranges and pinks of a sunset, or the greens of a forest. Now someone has put it all together, in a color thesaurus!

When I woke up my first morning in the Maldives, I was dumbfounded by the sight of the blues that greeted me. From the baby blue of the sky that blended in with the teal and sapphire of the sea. I could sit on the beach the whole day, just watching as the cerulean blue turned into azure and then indigo as the day waned. I was cracking my brain to come up with all the versions of blue I could think of, and only managed a handful of words.

Ingrid Sundberg has put together this awesome thesaurus because, she puts it, "she's a collector of words as well as colors", which can be viewed on her website at

Like Ingrid, I, too,  get a kick out of all the paint charts at the hardware store. When I was having my apartment repainted, I told the painters to just paint everything white, from walls to doors, just to make life simpler and also because I happen to like the clean look of white. I was presented with an array of whites to choose from, from snow white to barley white and cotton white. I randomly stabbed at a white because, well, white is white, right? Imagine my horror when I discovered that my walls in barley were not white white but more of a beige (I should have known - barley is off white).

I love looking through all the bales of fabric at a fabric or craft store. In the days when I was into patchwork quilts, I could pore over fabrics in different shades and patterns of green or peach, to mix and match them.

I also like perusing through the boxes of hair colors. It cracks me up that Golden Dark Blonde is more like a light brown and Copper Blonde is more reddish. I guess the more color variants the manufacturers can think up, the more hair color they can sell. Pity the poor consumer (me!) who has to figure out what all these words mean, because the squares that show the actual color on what looks like a patch of hair all look pretty much the same.

I have friends who have a penchant for scrapbooking and beading. They probably spend hours (and a lot of money) on their craft and delight in the colors that abound, whether in paper or beads. I'm sure they would agree that our world would be a lot duller without this array of colors that surrounds us.

The English language is thankfully so rich that we actually have the words to describe these subtle differences in color. I adore words like fuschia. It makes you immediately think of a pink that's hot and sassy. And aquamarine - it conjures up images of a cool, shimmery underwater pool shot. At work, I used to thumb through a Pantone color guide, oohing and aahing over the many variations of just one color.

I am infinitely grateful to Ingrid Sundberg for putting together my love for both words and color in her amazing thesaurus, helping us describe the many shades of grey ... and even black and white!

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