YOUR COLOR TYPE and how to live with it (Feb, 1950)

I’m really interested to find out how this “graphometer” on page 7 works. At several points the graph seems to go backwards, which is a bit odd.

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YOUR COLOR TYPE and how to live with it

Step right up, folks, and select a color to fit your personality. The correct hue will make you sparkle, says Louis Cheskin, top color expert, who offers tips on redecorating your home.

By Clifford B. Hicks

IF YOU ARE emotionally normal, your favorite color likely is a particular shade of blue and your wife feels a strong attraction for magenta-red.

Your small children — given a choice — select bright-red toys. If you are a farmer, you prefer a great many colors other than grass green, but if you work in a steel mill, grass green likely is one of your favorites.

You may not realize it, but you probably find a strong-blue room depressing, a vivid-yellow room head-splitting, a bright-red room nerve-wracking and a leaf-green room boring.

These are just a few of the facts turned up by a recent spurt in color research. Surprisingly, the theory that colors have a profound influence on human beings hasn’t been given broad recognition until the past few years. Now psychologists, probing colors and their relation to people, have discovered some facts that can make anyone’s life happier and more useful.

Among the foremost of these pioneering authorities on color is Louis Cheskin, technical director of the Color Research Institute of America. He has tested the reactions of thousands of persons to thousands of colors. He’s a plain-speaking young man who can tell your wife exactly what color her dress should be to flatter her figure. More important, he can tell you what colors to paint or paper your walls in order to tune them to your particular way of life.

Cheskin’s research has demonstrated that each color has an individual personality. He feels it’s extremely important that the personalities of colors in the home match the personality of the homeowner. Otherwise, a home can become a place to escape from instead of a haven of relaxation. Emotional stability depends mostly on environment, of which color is one of the most important elements.

The spectrum specialist points out that cool colors of the green-blue families are sedatives—they provide excellent relaxation for nervous persons. On the other hand, the warm colors of the red-yellow families provide stimulation for persons who tend to be melancholy and morose.

Once Cheskin painted two adjoining walls of a living room a cool green-blue. The two walls that formed the opposite corner he painted a warm peach. Except for color, he furnished each of the two corners with identical furniture. When preparations were completed, he invited a married couple to visit. The husband disliked social life and tended to withdraw into himself. The wife, on the other hand, was lively and full of fun.

When the husband and wife entered the test room, they walked about for a minute or two. Then like well-directed robots they walked to opposite corners and sat down, the husband in the corner decorated with warm colors and the wife in the shadow of the cool blue-green.

“See?” says Cheskin. “They subconsciously chose the colors that were good for them— colors that complemented their personalities.”

In a series of tests in the room, nervous people inevitably chose the cool corner and quiet persons the warm corner.

Cheskin has made a science of determining color preferences. He uses a Holland graphometer, similar to a lie detector, to determine the reaction of an individual to a particular color. Flash a hue that the person dislikes in front of him and the pen on the graphometer will wave like a pendulum. One surprising fact that Cheskin has learned is that frequently people will think they like a certain color, whereas they actually may detest it subconsciously.

He once ran a preference test with 85 women. Cheskin showed them six different kerchiefs and asked them which color they preferred. A great majority — 68 women — chose the same color. Later Cheskin diverted their minds from the kerchiefs, then at the end of the test told the 68 women to take home a kerchief as a reward. When the women had cleared out, a tally showed that only 9 of the 68 actually had chosen the color for which they had voted.

The color expert will come right down to earth in discussing colors for the home. He points out that colors take up no room, and correct colors are no more expensive than inharmonious colors.

Before he’ll make any recommendations, he insists that everyone should know the meaning of certain confusing color phrases. Here are the basic definitions:

Primary colors of paint pigments are green-blue, magenta-red and yellow.

Hues are the primary colors and their mixtures.

Tints are hues plus white.

Shades are hues plus black.

Tones are hues plus both black and white.

Combining primaries in varying proportions, therefore, produces an infinite number of hues. Adding black, white or both to any hue produces an infinite number of shades, tints or tones. Cheskin has developed a popular color system which has 4800 colors based entirely on the three primaries plus white and black. Gradations finer than that number of colors, he says, can’t be differentiated by the human eye.

Anyone who learns the fundamentals will be able to decorate his home in colors that will be as pleasing as punch, according to Cheskin. His major rule is this: Use only two complementary colors in decorating a room.

He quickly points out that a room in which only two colors appear might become tiresome. But books, pictures and other furnishings will provide countless spots of color. Cheskin’s idea is that only two colors should predominate. For example, paint or paper your walls the complementary hue of the rug. Then use draperies, lamp shades, vases and other small items that are the hue of the rug, but lighter or darker.

Each hue, of course, not only has its mate — the complementary — but it fathers an entire family. Every tint (the hue plus white), every shade (the hue plus black) and every tone (the hue plus black and white) will fit into this color scheme. If your rug is a shade of yellow (brown, tan

or beige), make the walls blue; if the rug is a shade of red, make the walls green. But instead of putting brilliant colors on the walls, use a delicate tint, tone or shade.

“The ideal combination,” says Cheskin, “is a deep tone with a complementary light tone or tint—or a shade with a complementary light tone or tint.”

There’s a sound scientific reason why it is as natural for humans to like comple-mentaries as it is for them to walk upright. Any color absorbs part of the white light striking it and reflects the rest. It is this reflected light which determines the color we see. The complementary color reflects the remainder of the spectrum. The total effect is a complete reflection of white light in the room but not from one source. And because the eye is accustomed to see in white light, the result is pleasing.

Now Cheskin sounds one warning. Complementaries provide the most vivid possible contrast, and in their purest tones will vibrate. Therefore, Cheskin recommends that the woodwork in the room be painted a white or off-white, which will provide a separation between the two. Complemen-taries work as highly-efficient partners as long as there is a third, neutral person in the vicinity.

Providing some concrete suggestions, Cheskin recommends that the home dweller who is about to redecorate a room determine what is his most important and valuable furnishing—the one item he can’t afford to change or doesn’t want to change. Often this will be the rug. Color the walls in a complementary tone of that furnishing. Duplicate the color of that valuable piece, only in purer tones, in the upholstery, draperies and lamp shades. Such things as pictures and vases, in the purest tones, can provide bright spots of color.

Ceilings, he says, should be pure white to reflect the greatest amount of light.

Cheskin realizes it usually is too expensive to wipe the color slate clean by changing or eliminating many expensive furnishings. So he recommends that a family design a balanced diet of color for the entire home, and then gradually work toward that master plan as a goal. New furnishings then can be bought with an eye toward the ideal color scheme.

At this point the personalities of the family members and the use for each room should be analyzed.

Consider the living room first. It should provide relaxation for the entire family, but at the same time should stimulate discussion and play. If your family is inclined to be quiet, to entertain little, Cheskin recommends a warm color to pep you up. Therefore, the walls of your living room could be a shade of any of the warm red-yellow colors such as peach or rose.

If, on the other hand, your family is creative even in its hours of relaxation, if some of the members are nervous and high-strung, Cheskin recommends any of the sedative colors of the green-blue family. Or, you can use the warmer colors but in very delicate tints or tones that won’t be overstimulating.

As the bedroom is a place of rest, it should be decorated in cool, serene colors that will not hinder the occupants’ desire for relaxation. Shades and tones of green, turquoise and blue are ideal, although shades of red may be satisfactory for younger people.

Kitchens, on the other hand, are designed for work and should stimulate the housewife. Cheskin guarantees any husband more cakes and pies if he’ll redecorate his kitchen in bright peach, yellow-orange, red, or any color with red in it. In the kitchen, of course, it is the linoleum, dishes, clocks and flowerpots that can provide the complementary color.

Tots aren’t impressed a bit by baby blues and delicate pinks. The child recognizes pure, bright hues first, and it is these colors that appeal most to him. As a possible color combination for the nursery, Cheskin suggests a deep peach for the large walls, a blue-green for the narrow walls, a peach, gray and blue-green rug, natural furniture and a toy chest in bright red.

North light (light which is not direct sunlight, such as that which comes in a north window) and fluorescent light will increase the depth of any color and make it appear slightly more blue. Direct sunlight, which contains much more orange and red, makes walls appear brighter and warmer. An incandescent bulb has a maximum of red and can change the color of the wall greatly.

Deep, warm tones always give the impression of nearness; light, cool tones seem distant. Therefore a long, narrow room can be made to appear shorter and wider by using a warm color on the narrow, distant walls and a cool tone on the side walls. For the same reason, a red-tinted room appears smaller than a blue-tinted room. Tints, in general, lend spaciousness. And you’ll definitely feel cooler in a blue room, warmer in a red room.

A light rug with dark furniture or a deep-colored rug with light wood produces a dramatic effect which is pleasing.

He suggests that the family of average means depend on small, inexpensive objects to accomplish color harmony by providing a complementary hue. Low-cost yard goods, a new lamp shade, a vase in a prominent place can do wonders.

Cheskin has worked with a paint manufacturer to develop an entirely new paint system. It is based on Cheskin’s development of three primary pigments, each of which reflects exactly two thirds of white light. Mix the three pigments in equal amounts and you’ll get black.

Today, if you walk into this type of paint store, you will find only these three colors plus a large supply of white paint and some black on the shelves. You’ll look over the color chart and choose the particular color you want. Then, the dealer will give you white paint plus one or more of the primaries. He’ll also provide you with a recipe. You take the paint home and read the recipe. It says to add a four-ounce can of yellow pigment and a four-ounce can of red pigment to a gallon of white paint. As six teaspoons equal one ounce, you easily can measure out any specific amount. Mix it well and you’ll come up with exactly the same color of peach as the paint chip. Even a color-blind person can do it.

Now suppose six months later you want to paint a new bookcase the identical color of the walls. If you had mixed the paint by the old system of “adding pigment until it looks good,” you’d never be able to duplicate the color exactly. Under the Ches-kin system, all you do is take your color specification back to the paint store. The dealer again will provide the necessary ingredients. Stir up another batch and you’ll find that you have produced a perfect twin for the color on the wall.

Cheskin sounds one last warning to the family planning to redecorate. Don’t use any color which is disliked by any member of the family. Once a man came to Cheskin who had a violent dislike for deep blue and became almost speechless whenever he was near a man wearing a deep-blue suit.

A psychologist as well as a color expert, Cheskin asked the man a good many questions. Among them—”Were you ever in serious trouble as a child?”

“Well,” said the patient, “the only time I ever caused any trouble was when a pal and I swiped some apples and were caught by a cop.”

“What was the reaction of your family?” asked Cheskin.

“They were mortified. So embarrassed my father even considered leaving town.”

“What did the policeman do to you?”

“Put us in jail for several hours.” As the man recalled his experience, he became so nervous that he had difficulty speaking.

“Do you remember the color of the officer’s uniform?”

“Deep blue,” said the man. As soon as he spoke, he realized why deep blue made him so uncomfortable. Once he had discovered the reason for his aversion, he no longer felt uncomfortable in the presence of the color.

That, says Cheskin, is pretty good proof why anyone should follow his color recommendations only to a certain point.

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