A few weeks ago, I published a post that asked, “Who Needs Color, Anyway?“, showing beauty in black and white. The premise suggested that we find beauty in form, texture, and contrast; that color was just window dressing.
This post suggests that premise was a bunch of hogwash; that color is intrinsic to beauty, and the living colors of nature are exhibit A.
The Biltmore Estate is much more than the fancy house we showed off in the last post. It is contained within 8000 acres, most of which we did not explore beyond drive-by gawking. But one area we did explore was the gardens near the house, and especially the conservatory.
While the outside gardens were impressive, especially for October, it was in the conservatory where the flora really put on its fancy go to meeting clothes. There were things in there you wouldn’t believe.
I have no clue what this plant is. Its business end was a red, somewhat tulip-shaped enclosure about the size of a small fist. It was watertight, and contained a small pool of water with a green mat of, um, well, maybe you can tell me.
That was strange enough. But there were three or four of these puzzlers scattered around the conservatory, and some of them had even more intriguing adornments.
Within a fire engine red “flower”, we had a self-produced bed of green, which in turn produced tiny sub-flowers of white, magenta, and purple.
Not quite the effect you’d get in black and white.
Who knows why this “flower” evolved to such a level of sophistication. Is the swimming pool this miniature flowerbed calls home also an acidic insect trap? Is the whole thing an elaborate sexual come on, flora style? Talk about layers of makeup. What pollen bearing beastie could resist?
Would it bother if the whole tableau didn’t have all the fancy colors? Do bugs care? What color spectrum do they see, anyway?
For human beasties, colors can add feeling. Reds add drama and emotion. Yellows and oranges add warmth and comfort. Blues add coldness. These are generalizations, and mix and match can change the tune. Your mileage may vary. You tell me. Do browns give you the blues? Does neon green make you see red?
Some things can look good in both color and black and white.
Others, not as much. These violets and magentas would show as middle greys, without the contrasts the colors bring.
With a little practice, you can guess what colors will look like in black and white.
But hey, today we’re all about color. Let’s wallow in it!
Still, even if the colors jump out and grab you by the optic nerve, shapes and textures are still there. Take a close look at the details, and all those fancy-dancy colors get even more interesting.
Are you feeling it?
Maybe you remember this next one, when I showed it in black and white in Who Needs Color. Is it better now?
Either way, it wears its dress like a Spanish flamenco dancer, polka dots and all.
Enough visual gluttony in the conservatory. There’s a whole ‘nother world out there.
Who needs a flower bed when you got ponds?
And colors? If you were to look at these water lilies and drink in their colors, you might say it’s the color that gives them their soul.
Or does it?