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For when you're feeling a monstrous prism of feelings...

 "Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions," the artist Pablo Picasso once said. He is remarking upon how colors are often connected to different emotions and feelings. Warm colors can give rise to different emotions than cool colors and bright colors can create different feelings than muted colors. As a skilled painter, Picasso must have been deeply aware of the nuances of color. But varying colors can have different effects upon each of us. It all depends on how the psychological effects of color. While there hasn't been extensive research on the subject, there are some color effects that have universal meaning.

Colors can make us feel happy, sad, hungry, relaxed. These reactions are rooted in psychological effects, biological conditioning and cultural imprinting. Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange, and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility. Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple, and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference. 

Color plays such an integral role in our lives that it even shapes the way we describe our moods. There are many common idioms in English that connect colors to feelings... you could be feeling blue, green with envy, tickled pink or so angry you see red. However, your feelings about color are often deeply personal and rooted in your own experience or culture and the way different countries and cultures see and describe colors varies greatly around the world. 

While the color white is used in many Western countries to represent purity and innocence, it is seen as a symbol of mourning in many Eastern countries.  The Bassa people in Liberia only have two words for classifying colors (ziza for red/orange/yellow and hui for green/blue/purple), whereas the Inuit reportedly have 17 different words for white alone, each to describe different snow conditions. 

It's fascinating how as humans we all see the same spectrum of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, but depending on our culture, the colors can have such varying meaning. 

In this week's story time bilingue, we read a book all about colors and how they are connected to our feelings. It's beautifully illustrated with colorful collages, about a color monster who is feeling quite mixed up. All of his colors and emotions are jumbled, and it takes the help of his young friend for him to get put back together. It is the perfect text to reinforce with little ones their colors and offers them the language to be able to express feelings. 


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