Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Living in Colour

When I was building my house I decided that I wanted the house to blend in with the trees and the fields around me, so I asked for a stucco roughly the colour of the cabbages and palms in the fields nearby. After rejecting mint green, sea green, turquoise green, kelly green, forest green, and a dozen other shades, the plasterer finally got the colour right, to his great disgust. "But, madame, this is not a bright colour!", he complained. That's right. It's a grey green that is very easy on the eyes. I love the colour and am happy with it, but the neighbours have decided that this is simply another example of my eccentricity.

Local tastes in house colour are a tad stronger than mine. Sometimes I wonder if the colours are conscious choices or whether someone simply had a sale on a certain shade of paint. I remember a number of years ago when there was a sudden outbreak in lavender painted balconies in certain parts of town. We decided that a huge truckload of lavender paint had been highjacked, but it may have simply become fashionable. Riding through the villages, I notice the house painting fashions change over the years. Just recently it has become popular to paint balconies and houses and then make flower-like prints over the brighter or darker colours of the base.
The interiors of the houses are often equally strongly coloured and bright. I was also scolded for having such subdued tastes as painting my living room a dusty rose rather than a bright yellow or pink. To each his own, I guess. But then I have a collection of prints, photographs and paintings collected over the years that decorate my walls and the village houses are generally more bare of decor. Farmers save their money for schooling for children, new animals, repairs to machinery or buildings or such. Paintings are less practical.

While I choose to live in subdued tones, I really enjoy seeing the bright patterns that people paint on the balconies and walls. Cities are far too much grey cement and red brick in my mind and the colours brighten spirits as well as they brighten the view. Sometimes they are geometric patterns and some of the paint jobs provide optical illusions of texture and space.

I'm sure that in many of our more regulated communities, the local authorities would be having fits at some of these paint jobs. But that is one of the wonderful advantages of a fairly uncontrolled building code.

copyright 2010 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani