Colors of the Desert
I admit that I’m not adept at artistic interpretation (a few trips through the Phoenix Art Museum made that fact abundantly clear, as did my undergrad interpretations of Romantic Era poetry).
But when I saw this rock in the Tucson Mountains, it reminded me of a watercolor painting. I’m not too far off, am I? I was drawn to the turquoise, rust and golden hues. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind enlarging this photo and hanging it on my wall (it’s prettier when you click and zoom below).
Looking beyond the colors of this rock reveals even more meaning. What you’re seeing is solidified lava (basalt), colored by hydrothermal reactions – i.e. the trickling of water through hot rocks to create fluids rich in copper (the blue-greens) and iron and manganese (red-oranges). The final product: this beautiful patina, visible only years later, when the top rock layers of limestone and granite eroded away from the basalt.
For Writers: If you were to assign a “color” to your novel, what would you choose? Like the rock above, colors have more depth beneath their shiny surfaces. They’re much more than today’s technologically driven hex definitions, the print world’s Pantone Matching System codes, and the primary and secondary color wheels of our youth. They’re symbolic and powerful and can evoke emotion.
To help you decide the color of your novel, I’ve included, below, a few symbolic interpretations (you can see more color interpretations here). But keep in mind, colors have different meanings in different cultures, as noted on incredibleart.org.
Color Meanings & Interpretations:
- Red: anger, excitement, energy, passion, love, desire, strength, power, heat, aggression, danger, fire, violence, all things intense and passionate.
- Blue: Peace, tranquility, cold, calm, stability, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence, conservatism, security, cleanliness, order, loyalty, depression.
- Yellow: Joy, happiness, betrayal, optimism, idealism, imagination, hope, sunshine, summer, jealousy, covetousness, deceit, illness, hazard.
- Green: Nature, environment, healthy, good luck, renewal, youth, spring, generosity, fertility, jealousy, inexperience, envy, misfortune, vigor.
Does the overall feel of your novel shout a single color, or does it metamorphose like the basalt above, based on the changing moods and plot twists in your story? And what about the use of color as a symbol in your novel? In what ways have you applied color – to your setting, to character moods, to objects? What other ways might you incorporate color into your WIP?
For the record: My current work in progress would follow a black-red-green-blue progression … not too dissimilar to the iron-rich basalt pictured above.