Sorry I'm late posting this morning; I misplaced my camera, and I wanted to take some pics to go with this post, starting with this one:
I put the final hand stitch in my tropical-themed quilt last night, and once I bind it it'll be ready to use. Working on this quilt reminded me of so many things that surrounded me as a kid in the tropics: the red hibiscus growing outside our house, all the birds who come to south Florida for the winter, the beauty of the ocean, the year-round green everywhere. A few times I could almost smell sun tan lotion and hear the endless rush-crash of the waves on the beach.
These are the colors of my childhood, and if you asked me to name them based on those memories then I'd call them jungle green, mango orange, hibiscus scarlet, and sunlit Atlantic blue.
For contrast, here are two sides of a crazy quilt tote I made, which was the first thing I sewed after my eye surgery last year:
Not quite as joyful as the quilt, right? That's because at the time I was coming out of a long and dark period of absolute dread. These colors, these blues and purples and grays, all reflect how I felt during my recovery. Relief, peace, some lingering fear over the healing process. Darker feelings about what was for me the indescribable experience of being conscious (and helpless) while my surgeon cut into my eye with a scalpel. A different kind of joy at being able to see clearly again. Definitely somber, but not depressed -- recovering. For me these are the colors of hope and dreams.
Although psychologists would have it otherwise, I don't think the moods colors bring out in us are all universal. Our personal associations influence how we feel when we see a color, or a combination of colors, and the same should be true of our characters. If you haven't given this a lot of thought, consider your favorite color, and ask yourself some questions about it: why is it your favorite? What do you think of the moment you see it? How do you work it into your life? Is it on your walls, in your wardrobe? Once you've analyzed your favorite, do the same with a color you hate. All of these things you discover about your color moods can be then worked into your characters, your story elements, your settings -- and they don't have to reflect your own feelings (in fact, it's better for your writing range if they don't.)
You don't have to mention color moods in your story directly, either. Just as colors affect you, working them into a story will do the same for the work and the reader. A character who dresses in dull colors or paints her bedroom gray isn't a happy kid from the tropics, obviously. A guy who wears a loud yellow tie -- what I think of as a wardrobe exclamation point -- obviously wants attention. The adult antagonist who sleeps in a candy-pink room filled with toys (that he keeps locked at all times) has some serious, creepy issues.
Now it's your turn: What's your favorite color, and what is the first thing you think of whenever you see it?