An art aficionado friend of mine while looking at one of my paintings commented, “I feel calm and cool seeing your painting even though you have used warm colours in it”.
Red, Orange and Yellow were reigning bright on the canvas. They had run through and mingled purposefully casting their hues in an abstract rendition of Gautam Buddha under the Bodhi tree. Just as Buddha had tamed the notorious beings that tortured and bullied him, the form and energy of Gautam Buddha over powered the effect of these colours despite their attempts to dominate the Canvas.
“Well,” I said, “Gautam Buddha is after all a universal icon of peace and tranquility! And the subject and composition of a painting will impact a viewer’s response as much as the colours. So should be no surprise, my friend, that you are feeling calm and peaceful looking at it”.
She quizzed me more. “It cannot be just about form and composition. I’m sure there is something else at play. What are you not telling me? This seems against the laws of colours. This is not how I feel when I see such a spatter of bold red, flaming oranges and deep yellow.”
I had to be honest with her. “The manifest colours are not the only colours in an Artwork you know. The colours of the emotion and mind-state that the Artist was in, does play a role too. What you have connected to is the state of equanimity that I was in when this Artwork manifested.”
She was ready to hear more. And I continued. “As an Artist you understand the correlation between colours and moods. What I know as a spiritually inspired Artist is that this relation is not just at the physical level as is commonly understood. It is not just about hanging a bright red painting on the wall where your hard working executives sit and keeping them motivated; or decorating the nursery with soft pastel shades so that the baby sleeps well and is peaceful.”
I smiled. How could I explain to her that the colours in the etheric body, or what is commonly known as the Aura, has a much greater impact than most people realize. “See, people can impact their own sense of well-being if they understood about these true colours. They would feel more in charge of the day–to-day feelings.”
“Are you saying that by making the choice of which colour clothes to wear and what colour objects to surround themselves with people can impact their health and emotions? I have known of certain colour therapies that do that.” She quizzed further.
“Yes, colours do impact emotions, but the relationship is a lot more symbiotic in nature and more deep rooted than you are currently implying. You see the etheric or pranic body is made entirely of colours. There are different colours associated with different energy centers. The center for power has a different colour than the centre for intelligence. And depending on each person’s level of evolution and development, their aura will be unique, comprising not only different colours but a whole spectrum of shades too.”
“You see”, I quipped further, “the physical colours emanate from the etheric, are impacted by it and in turn also impact it.”
“So in the chicken and egg story, colours come first.” chuckled my friend.
“Yes, yes.” I laughed too, quite tickled by the parallel drawn. But pressed on. “In order to truly appreciate this discussion, the mechanics needs to be understood better and beyond the scope of this painting.”
“You see Sunset and Sunrise can both be yellow, while one denotes beginnings and the other endings. Take the example of White, the colour that contains all,” I carried on, “It can indicate so many alternative scenarios. A person can turn white with fear, or be enveloped by hope at the sight of white.”
As I spoke these words, some memories were rekindled. As a little girl, I used to argue with my mom about the illogicality of Christian brides wearing white gowns while North Indian families like ours deemed wearing white by young married women as inauspicious. However, a few years back I understood from personal experience, what could have really been meant by the concept of a widow wearing white. It didn’t mean she could no longer wear any colour and had to wear white! But that in the aftermath of the tragic loss of her spouse, they felt it might not matter which colour she wore. Wearing white may just be what could calm her the most.
When I had returned home after attending to the arrangements of my late ex-husband’s funeral and opened my wardrobe to pick out my night clothes to wear after the shower, I realized I couldn’t see colour. All around me I could see the world only in a hazy sepia tone, bereft of brightness. For many days my normally colourful wardrobe full of deep reds, flaming oranges and bright yellows seemed jaded. When the colour in my vision did return after a while, for some more time it only jarred. The only shades I could handle were beige and white.
I reiterate that this is not to say that one must force widows to wear white clothes as is commonly understood. This was an ex-husband I was grieving; a man who had another family and had ceased being a part of our day-to-day lives for over seven years. But even then the sense of loss was so deep that I had excruciatingly heightened sensitivity to everything around me. The most well-meaning people admonishing me for not wearing my usual bright shades despite their best of intentions, were in reality further anguishing me. Some had gone as far as to question my sanity, and labeled me backward and superstitious!
I knew I had to say something about the traditional wisdom in this context. “The wise among the ancients who understood the role and influence of colour incorporated many rituals and customs in our day-to-day lives, which we currently either follow blindly or criticize contemptuously. There was logic to why certain coloured clothes were to be worn for certain occasions or days of the week, and the particular flowers that were to be offered in certain pujas or the specific mandala or rangoli patterns to be made for embarking on certain tasks.” I continued with my monologue.
“Unfortunately, we have either not understood or completely misinterpreted what they said” I added. “A few traditions like sindoor khela, or of applying haldi on the face of devotees that we do follow, we often don’t have any idea where they came from.”
I recalled this entire discussion since Holi, the festival of colours, is just around the corner. It has today become more about partying. Even if there is play of colours on the outside, its essence is rarely understood. The outward play with colours besides being fun and exciting is also symbolic. It is a powerful day to begin the recalibration of the true colours in our lives. The evening before, all complains, critiques, grudges are to be consecrated into the fire so that a new chapter of life can begin. The next day is the day of celebrating colours and starting afresh.
I believe all of us are Artists and are constantly painting our characters on the canvas of our lives, in the shades we desire. To my mind more important than playing with colours on the outside is to ruminate, meditate and reflect from within and elevate our consciousness, thereby altering our aura and our true colours. Colours that will have a deeper and lasting effect on our own life and the lives of those we touch.
Colours that will overrule the effect of the physical aspects, such that even an Orange, a Red and a Yellow could evoke a cool and calming effect on someone. Om Shanti.