These colors seduce my heart in the first days of Autumn. Perhaps because of the bittersweet interplay between their inherent warmth and the weakening power of the sun. (We cling to warmth wherever we can find it, don’t we?) Perhaps because they seem to spring from the ancient earth itself. Or perhaps because they are still, to my eternally American eyes, the colors of an ongoing adventure deeper and deeper into this older world that—for me—is perpetually new.
These colors spring from minerals, rocks, dirt. From oxides and imperfections in stone. When you see a yellow wall, you don’t just see a blanket of color. You see pigment, ground into paste. There is an obstinate depth to the colors that speaks of process, history. They are not the clean, crisp colors of modern times, but the dense, opaque ones of years past. They wear dirt well, sometimes becoming even more beautiful with the ravages of time, climate, and pollution.
Italians love these colors. They speak directly to their hearts, to their love of sun and the earth that is under their feet. Their earth. Their home. And I have grown to love them too, I who avoided yellow like the plague, who couldn’t see terracotta (literally “baked earth”) with any sort of understanding whatsoever. Now, they are good friends to me, these colors. Winter is coming. Milan’s predominant palette (the grays) will reign supreme. And these warm beauties, like broad brush strokes deftly left here and there by a cunning painter, will lift our spirits come heavier skies.
[You might enjoy comparing this to “The importance of blue.”]