02 October 2014

How would you paint the sky?

What color is your hair? What color is a jambu?  What are the colors on your T-shirt?  These are common questions adults ask from children.  That’s how we learn the names of colors.  It’s like showing a child a book and asking ‘What is this?’ The child is expected to answer, ‘It is a book’.  From the time we are small, we are taught names.  This is important because there are commonly accepted names for things.  So when someone talks about a ‘cup’, we know what he or she is referring to. 

"What is the color of the sky?", someone must have asked all of us at some point in our lives.  We are required to say ‘blue’.  So we say ‘blue’ and we are praised.  Other children in the nursery will be asked to applaud.  ‘Give little Prasanna a clap for being so clever!’  And we all clap.  Prasanna is happy. 

But is the sky actually blue?  Well, there are times when it’s all blue, but even then it’s not a single, uniform blue that we see.  We see many shades of blue.    And then, if we think hard, we will realize that while the blue itself can be very light at certain moments of the day, for example when the sun is high, it can be a darker blue at other times. 

If you ever watched a sunrise or sunset you’ll remember that there are times when the sky is made of multiple colors. There could be white clouds and grey clouds.  There can be skies which are dotted in white if we get a dot-like pattern of clouds.  If it is sunrise there can be streaks of silver and even gold mixing with blue (and white, if there are clouds). If it is sunset there can be brilliant reds, gold, orange or crimson. 

The point is that you can paint the sky any way you like it.  You can use one or more of the colors mentioned above.  You can even paint it in colors you’ve never seen in the sky.  There’s nothing wrong in that.  The thing is, we associate certain things and feelings with certain colors.  If we want to paint an angry sky, we can make it look grim using dark colors.  We can make it all white or off-white if we think it is about to rain.  It can be all gold or even silver.  It can be totally black, perhaps because it is a night sky we are thinking of or because we want to create an angry or even scary feeling. 

You can paint the sky in any color you like or in any combination of colors.  Most of the time we are not only trying to draw what the sky looks like, we are also trying to show or express some feeling we are experiencing. 

So what’s the color of water?  Put it in a glass and it will be colorless.  Look at the sea and you will be able to identify many colors.  Look at a weva (reservoir) on a clear morning and it will appear to be blue.  If it’s a cloudy day the color of the water would be in several shades of blue.  If it has been raining hard, then soil would get washed into the weva.  It would take on the color brown. 

The sky has more colors than this world wants us to understand.   Here’s a small experiment.  Go out at various times of the day or look out of a window at different times.  Write down the colors you see each time.  Maybe the next time someone asks you to name the color of the sky you’ll have a different answer than the common one, ‘Blue’. 



සෙන්නා said...

Is Your Blue The Same as My Blue?