Colour Equations Dark Winter
December 24, 2011 by Christine Scaman
Many people have no interest in their colours, but not just blandly so. They’re defensively so. They don’t mind being advice about other fashion guidelines but they do not want to be told there are certain colors that might not be best for them. Why colour? Because colour gets below the surface. Colour gets into the hard-wiring. There’s more at stake if you let someone in. Let’s spend some time in Dark Winter’s personal space.
Ellen Page is an example of a very commonly seen Dark Winter face. Autumn’s squaring of jaw is often present (True Winter’s is longer and narrower, like Cher) but the colouring is cooler and clearer than Dark Autumn. The trace of Autumn heat is surely here in the hair, eyes, and skin unless the person is quite close to True Winter.
Sure, she could be a Bright or any Season for that matter, but this face is the dance of Dark Winter to me. This is the very rare client that gets out of the car and I have to fight with myself not to push her into the one Season that’s fairly singing its own name. This is a far more difficult analysis, with much more second thinking, than with a person whose natural colouring group is less obvious.
And God love the girl for the natural hair and brows. She looks strong, young, healthy, and smart. The blue in the eye makeup isn’t blue enough to say BLUE EYE PAINT and it complements the orange tones in the eye. I think she looks simply great and you know how much it takes for me to say that. As women, we lose the sense of this being enough. We need to manipulate as if media’s solutions could make it better. Learning to see what is right in front of us as special is the PCA version of living in the moment.
I see this face over and over in Dark Winter. The size of Winter, fathomless and colossal as a galaxy, the space they need and demand, with the human warmth, the comfortable welcome, and the great generosity of Autumn. Tell me this is not (Sci\ART analyst) Maytee Garza‘s face.
Some Dark Winters have a longer face or softer colouring or lighter eyes, lots of variations. Some have a more gamine feel, like Victoria Beckham or Winona Ryder. We don’t do colour analysis based on these traits but every type of natural colouring repeats certain facial features a lot.
I talk about liking lips with colour more on Winters than the erased lip that mostly looks good on the almost-children in magazines. A young Winter is an exception. Even in her medium pinks and purples, there’s so much colour already that she can look like she’s dressing up as Mom. An icy lipgloss can really be great (Bobbi Brown Sugar Lilac – I’m pretty sure that’s the name. It looks more iced violet than grey in the tube.). Not pastel (more greyed, there’s tons of these frosty greyish pinks, don’t buy them). Not medium darkness, should go on very light. Icy is hard to find but it’s good. More age appropriate, conveys a coolness, and better at letting the beauty of the face speak for itself without cosmetic getting in the way, which is the best kind of beauty and the best use of cosmetics.
I tried to do a Polyvore. And failed. I couldn’t even get a single one together. I’ve seen what’s there too many times. Going to try something new. For those who have, or will have, my book, you’ll see a section in each of the Season chapters that describes how I see the colour palette being used to best effect. Dark Winter is the first chapter we talk about so let’s begin with it here.
For me, these colours have an austerity, perhaps because they are dark and cold. They feel serious. Soft effects (draping, smocking, cute collars, floppy bows and sleeves, unfinished edges) or busy details (wildly random prints, buttons and stuff for no reason like insets or logos, tons of ruching), styles that show a lot of skin (because sex and power are opposite currencies, the more of one, the less of the other. Dark Winter is the oldest soul Season and look better dressed more quietly, as the philosophers they so often are), clothes that seem too big (batwing and dolman sleeves, shapeless) – well, you can read the book but I don’t care for this on a Dark Winter. This person takes all that and makes it look unimportant, trite, and fussy. Peter Pan collars belong in Spring’s Neverland for a reason. On someone else, those styles can be flattering, slimming, and fabulous. On Dark Winter, it looks like those projects where your kids took your antique silver vase to school and brought it back with beads and macaroni glued all over it.
I’ve had Dark Winters see their palette and hear the way I see the colours interpreted on this person and feel un-represented. They wanted Bright Winter. They say “Oh, but I love colour!” Believe me, colour analysts are not trying to tell you not to wear colour. We are trying to help you avoid colours that make your face look oily, old, heavy, and unevenly pigmented. As pretty as a colour is, it won’t be so pretty after that happens. Wear YOUR colours any way YOU see them. Could you meet me halfway and say that Mrs. Obama might not be doing herself favours in frosted coral eyeshadow, peacock blue eyeliner, and hot fuchsia lips? Even one at a time, she is not that person, regardless of her position in the world.
I tried to keep the negatives out of the book, but with maturity comes an easier acceptance that every quality we have is in equal measure our flaw. We will excel and surpass at some things, which must be balanced by those places where we are weaker. This is a self-contained individual, not one who shares a lot of the internal stuff or leans on others easily. Some have incredible intensity, far more than the situation warrants, while some are much more passive. Once the cage is rattled, the fun times are over, because once they let go…Dark Winter draws a very clear line at anything that smells like B.S. Unlike the Summers, they will not necessarily keep your feelings safe. In colour, this translates as heavy, humorless, dark, unfriendly, morose, somber, and solemn. Don’t email me to say that this vision is grim and depressing. I’ll email back to say that your interpretation forgot the counterbalances that the hawk brings to the kingdom. Piercing focus, deep introspection, and the majestic, solitary stand-apart-ness that gets noticed first.
There is a core of stillness and hardness in Winter people. You can feel the steel rod down the center, and if tested, it will not bend, no matter how lightweight they seem on the surface. The palpable presence of that steel rod is the source of the strong vertical line element that I find works so well in the appearance of Dark Winter clothing. I think many of them sense this hard place too and translate it as “Earth”, that type of un-movable rock-solid center. For me, Earth energy (and I’m not an energy specialist) means secure comfortable homey regular everyday practical common-sense resilient considerate fair. That’s not Winter, that’s Autumn. Perhaps my misunderstanding, since analysts I respect enormously (Angela Wright in The Beginner’s Guide to Colour Psychology) attribute earth to Winter, where the world turns into itself, gathering power from the earth for the coming growing season, and the person of that colouring is similarly inwardly directed. I feel Winter’s need for big elbow room more strongly and feel an air association, as in space rather than breeze or wind.
At the center of Winter is a titanium wire – wait, this is Dark Winter, make that a tungsten cable. Its strength is not in Autumn’s sturdy squareness, but rather in its thin linearity. Winter is the conflict, even the contradiction, of everything and nothing, black and white, playing themselves out at the same time. Winter is the superstar who never feels good enough, who thinks herself a loser. In True Winter, where the polarities are most widely apart, the line between the two becomes thinnest, near invisible, just a fold in a force field. You can feel the hinge but you can’t see it, like the flip side that must always be, eternal and joined as matter and anti-matter.
From the book, the section is here:
- Black + white + a third colour block from the palette
- A medium-dark to very dark colour (or black) + a white or an icy colour
- A medium-dark to very dark colour (or black) + a brighter colour from the palette
- A neutral (grey, brown, or black) + one other colour + possible third colour in small area
- Two dark colours of the same or analogous colours
- Two colour maximum, where black, white, black-navy, black-brown, and neutrals count as colours. Third colour possible, as small area only, in an accent or accessory item.
- Overall medium-dark to dark effect
(Note: For the equations above, and those in the following Seasons, the terms light, medium, and dark signify the darkness level within the palette itself, not on a full white to black scale.)
From the top graphic:
Your hair and makeup are already a colour. When you look at others, you register every colour, meaning them plus their stuff. Chemical hair colour and makeup already add a lot of colour activity for the viewer’s eyes. Clothes and jewelry beyond that and the eye has nowhere to land, nowhere to focus, and nowhere to rest. Dark Winter looks good with a lot of still territory. Gray, white, black. Perhaps the lipstick in the tuxedo image (#1) is enough, imagining in the earrings, hair, and eye colour adding three more colours.
#2: We’re always needing big separation between lightest and darkest. And an overall dark look.
The red and navy (#3) – feel how much more energy there is just by adding the blue. That navy is so close to black but it feels a lot busier. Not wrong, might be great in your eye, just a different feel. Anything added would be white, gray, black.
When the lower block changes to black, it’s such a small thing, but the feeling for me is sharper, cleaner, calmer, and could accept another small block of colour better. With black (#4), as with white and gray, there’s a feeling of settling that is right, as life settles at night, as moving water settles to frozen ice. Contrast is always high. Winter is not a tone on tone look. Contrast can be high without sparks flying, as large blocks of purple and yellow could achieve, and more so if they’re very bright and clear purple and yellow.
I like a lot of red on Winters. Red is a big colour on Winter. When you get your red right, it becomes a neutral, like gray in your wardrobe. We wear a version of it in lipstick every day. I think Jennifer Butler said that everyone has their neutral red and I agree with her. We are conscious of the colour red in every other person, though not the same red. Dark Winter could wear Bobbi Brown’s Rum Raisin lipstick and cover it with her Sugar Lilac gloss (to clear and purple and lighten that lipstick a touch more) or White Brightening gloss and that would be very good. If you want lips that last till noon, put a good coating of Lauder Double Wear Ruby on, then another coat, then cover it MAC Fast Play which dulls and browns it that tiniest trace to accommodate the Autumn influence that lives here.
Complimentary colours together are very energizing and heated, so work better on the hotter Seasons. When the feeling is colder and stiller, the teal (blue) and brown (orange) in small areas bring in that mutually elevating effect without being revving the motor more than a dark and quiet group logically would. The lower block in #5 is black-brown. That’s your eyeliner, clean, red based, dark, Cover Girl Vivid Ruby. The teal could equally be a stone in an earring, a necklace, a clutch, a laptop case and can go much darker.
Two darks together are aferocity that Dark Winter does well. It’s become hard for me to discuss this character and separate myself, but they seem able to generate a strength of intention to be reckoned with. This isn’t a warm and fuzzy person at all. They’re business and move to the power position pretty fast. All black is kind of too mafia. Two dark but different colours works for me. The Dark Seasons do an overall dark look very well (#6). It’s their thing. For DW, I like when the colours are close if not the same, like a tuxedo, like a pinstripe suit, all those linear vertical elements. All black is, well, you know, never amazing.
I love grey a lot on all 8 Neutral Seasons. And T. Rex gray is right about perfect here. Pants, jackets, eyeshadow, socks, wristwatch bands, it’s all part of the final picture and it’s all getting noticed. Bobbi Brown’s Rock eyeshadow mixed with the darkest colour in Clinique’s Totally Neutral trio and you’re there. Make lighter versions for the lid and darker version to put above the crease.
From the second graphic:
As my friend and Sci\ART analyst, Mary Steele Lawler, from Mississippi, pointed out from her colour mixing courses: ” If one paints a warm bright color in a landscape background the painting will be distorted. This is a color fact, because in real life distance causes colors to cool down and become mellow while Bright and Warm make colors advance.” So, you get what she’s saying, that it would look like foreground-type colour plopped into the background for no good reason. The picture makes no sense. The viewer doesn’t get what they’re supposed to make of the whole thing or get past the question: “Why in the world did the artist do that? What can I be missing here?” That’s yellow highlights on a Soft Summer head whose natural pigmentation is of coolness and distance, so background colours.
Therefore, the coolness level has to be the same throughout the elements of a composition that are in the same plane for you not to look dizzy. Nobody understands the concept of colour consistency better than artists. Colour is just as disciplined as drawing. Until the vanishing point in drawing was understood, nothing looked anchored down. This is a set of rules artists don’t break if they want their work to look real. They don’t take liberties with the natural physics of colour behaviour either if they’re aiming for a believable work of art. Kalisz explained her PCA system by simply saying that it adhered to “how colour is”. She didn’t add or invent arbitrarily. She stuck to those rules that Nature put in place long before colour analysis came along.
#1 – somber, grave, looks good on these people, on this personality.
Since this is a Neutral Season (in 12 Season personal colour analysis, these are the 8 groups of natural colouring that are made up of blends of 2 True Seasons; their personal colour palettes contain just slightly warmish and just slightly coolish versions of every one of their most perfect colours), I set the saturation to pretty high. I stay on the halfway-to-cool side of a colour’s warm to cool spectrum. The dark cool olive and the cool yellow (#2) are the same at the same coolness and provide a high value (light/dark)contrast. Any added colour block is quiet. Picture a colour here, it’s too agitated.
In the next one (#3), I was aiming to show a print. Though the two greys are quiet, the print adds energy and so does a saturated cool coral pink, a variation of red, a colour to which humans are highly perceptive. The lower block is inert, or has no inertia, if you think of each element as having a momentum, a propulsive capacity to itself. Because each one of us is an energy field made up of light. Our appearance should have inertia, moving towards other people, our future, our goal. Isn’t that person just more fun and memorable than the static one (whose foreground colours are plopped in their background – does that look like you’re moving in reverse?) ? That lighter gray, I’d even take to cool light oatmeal or champagne, outside the swatches, but the Autumn blend makes those colours very convincing. If that’s what’s in the store but the pink is perfect, fine.
The purple and black (#4) is overall dark, where the purple energizes, warms, and dulls the black to the right extent (which is to say not a lot for DW). The clutch is meant to convey silver. Could be earrings, cuff, watch, necklace. Substantial diamonds are good because they add big presence without putting in another colour block.
#5 is there to remind that A. we can do a lot without black, that B. all teals are important colours on Autumns as turquoises are to the Spring blends, and that C. white is fine but not alone unless you’re very cool and near True Winter.
Dark Winter does say December to me.
To all of you and to those in your lives who remind you of how much there is in you to love,
I wish you the happiest holidays of all!