Take a good, hard look at the subject of this photo. What color would you say it is?
This is a closeup of the fabric I used in making a book bag years ago. I carry this bag with me to work and when I’m traveling in the car. I say the bag is brown. When I ask one of the children to fetch my brown bag, they say, “Oh, you mean the gray one.” No, I mean the brown one. They say gray. (Hubby just said, “It’s gray,” right over my shoulder as I’m writing this.) Brown, gray, brown, gray. They tease me unmercifully about this.
I call it brown because the predominant color my eyes see is brown. When I look at the fibers closely, I see that there are black threads, brown threads, and cream threads. My eyes must be picking up the brown and cream, whereas the eyes of my family members are mixing the black and cream.
This sense of difference in eyesight between one person and another is not unusual, except that we don’t think about these differences until we talk about color. Hubby’s father is red/green color blind. He sees reds and greens as blacks and browns. I forget this when I give him instructions like, “Click on the red button.” He didn’t realize he was color blind until he was in high school and his girlfriend (eventually wife) sat him down with a pile of bath towels and asked him, “What color is this one? What color is this one?”
A week ago, Young Son and I were discussing the color of his jacket. I called it sage-y green, but he thinks it’s gray, and then teased me unmercifully once again about my color perception. I told him that I had done very well in my college color theory class, thank you very much, and said that I could mix up a color to match his jacket. He shot back with, “You don’t have to know what a color is in order to match it.” He had a point. Although I maintained that I would start with a dab of green, mix in a whole bunch of white, and then add a tish of black to achieve his jacket color. For me, green was the deciding factor in identifying the color. Eldest Son said that if we were going by amounts of pigment, why wouldn’t we call the color white, because that would be the most abundant color. True, but for me, color boils down to the primary and secondary colors first and neutrals second. A true neutral is such an even mix of pigments that one can’t tell what the base colors are.
So then, what’s your assessment? Is the bag brown or gray? And if you think it’s gray, is it gray or grey?