Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Staggering Weight of a Delicate Flower





















This beautiful orchid was recently given to me by two very thoughtful (and optimistic) friends. I am mesmerized by the colorful paper thin petals that evoke tropical birds in flight. The fragrant blooms remind me that the return of warm weather and flowers are not far away. I plan on sniffing the sweet scent as often as possible and hope to enjoy this lovely plant through winter and beyond. Except I know I will not. Because, this is not my first orchid. Or even my second. It may be my third or fourth, but I am choosing to forget exactly how many times in my life I have killed these tender beauties.

I remember my first orchid vividly. It was sent by an appreciative client and I was immediately smitten. I had never owned one before and was in awe of its unique, fragile beauty. The directions seemed simple enough that even I, a well known plant killer, could follow. Simply add "X" amount of water "X" times a week. How hard could that be?

Well, honestly, that would be more challenging for me than most people. While I have always taken great care of my children and dogs, plants are unfortunately linked directly to my self-care. When I am off the rails my needy, green friends shall go unwatered. Plants are expendable. Kids and pets are not. My roots growing in and hair two months past a cut? Haven't seen the gym in two weeks? You can be sure plants all around me are dropping dead.

Yet, here I am again, having been deemed a trustworthy guardian for this living miracle of nature. I would like to tell you that this time will be different. Because THIS orchid is an "Ice Cube Orchid" and all that is required of me is that I place three ice cubes in the pot once a week. But unfortunately so were orchids #2 and 3. Or was it #3 and 4? Either way, I apologize in advance to my generous friends, nature in general and most of all... to my hopelessly doomed orchid.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dreaming in Color

The Pantone Hotel in Brussels




















I can't imagine more appealing lodging for designers, artists and others who are hyper aware of color. This new boutique hotel is cleverly designed with a motif that plays off of the iconic Pantone color chips.

Long before graphic designers started selecting digital color on a computer screen, they used the Pantone Matching System, which was referred to by the acronym PMS. Over time, as the term PreMenstrual Syndrome (PMS) worked its way into popular culture the use of the Pantone acronym slipped away and is rarely used now.

Equivalent to a doctor and stethoscope, the Pantone swatch book was once an essential tool for the designer. Now, the Pantone color system remains an important part of print design, but takes a back seat to digital color systems.


In a smart move, Pantone inserted themselves into popular culture with their bright, innovative line of products touting Pantone brand. They also have positioned themselves as the arbiter of color and now annually designate "The Color of the Year". This year's color (drum roll please)... "Marsala". http://www.pantone.com/pages/index.aspx?pg=21163  The Pantone Color Institute's trend forecasting can be a valuable tool for product designers and anyone looking to create a contemporary image through color choice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Diminishing Views

















I'm not quite done bashing winter yet.

While I enjoy the bluster and excitement of a storm like today's... I am also reminded that we are headed into the season of limited visibility. Without warning we can be thrust into a cave of snow as storms drop multiple feet of the cold white stuff on our homes. Just a few years ago we had snow so extreme that I literally couldn't see out of any of the windows in my home. Frantically, I tried using a broom to carve out a tunnel of vision. The broom was no match for the snow, so then I brought in the big guns and used my heavy duty steel shovel to unearth a view for myself. After a lot of digging, which included great quantities of snow ending up INSIDE my home... I opened up a tiny porthole into the outdoors. And then I could breathe again.

What is it about the feeling of being trapped inside with no view out? Is there a primal quality in some of us that forces us to keep the outdoors in view at all times?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Clarification on Desaturation

In the images I posted, I did NOT Photoshop/desaturate the lake image at top. Nature did that.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Where have all the colors gone?












Here we are at the winter of my discontent. Actually, I am discontented all winters, but only now beginning to understand the role that color plays in my unhappiness. Each fall New England explodes in its best show of the year. Vibrant greens gently transform into a gorgeous display featuring brilliant oranges, golds and reds. People travel to our region to see the seasonal spectacle and then quickly disappear to more temperate parts of the world as they know what happens next. Winter. The season that robs our landscape of all life-affirming hues. Just as the autumn leaves start to deepen into a second act, winter cruelly blows them away, leaving behind the dismal world of grays.

In graphic design there are many occasions where a designer may need to soften the intensity of an image so they can place type or other images on top. The easiest way to do this is to convert an image from full color to grayscale. Photoshop has a clever option that will do the dirty work in one heartless step called "desaturate". With a simple mouse click the photo or illustration has millions of colors sucked out and then replaced by 256 of shades of gray.

And so it is with winter. Sure, we may see some dusty mauves, smoky greens and dreary shades of brown and gray. On lucky days we might even be blessed with a cobalt blue sky or virginal snow gently hinting of lilac. For the next few months we will dwell in this world desaturated, but eventually spring arrive and debut the pure, verdant greens that signal have made it to the other side. And no one will be happier than me.