Writing in Colour

Pixie Green, Ruby Starlet and Wild Primrose. What if these Dulux shades came to life as people? What might their personality, behaviour and style be? We explored these questions at Write for Growth’s July workshop at Gladstone’s Library on Writing with Colour. Comparing notes on our imagined character sketches brought out some matching colour connectlons.


It’s these common connections that enable colour to be used matching strategically in interior design to evoke a mood or create atmosphere: Light-reflecting colours such as yellow and orange to stimulate appetite; cool blues to bring calm and lower the blood pressure.

But our exercise also highlighted how personal experiences and preferences can make for a range of individual responses to particular colours; and colour secures memories in our minds more firmly than images in black and white, according to academic research published by the American Psychological Association and reported by the Daily Mail online .

We looked at Myra Schneider’s poem ‘Choosing Yellow,’ which spans a range of childhood memories evoked powerfully through the senses. You can read the full poem here. The speaker’s inclusion of ‘the star Hitler forced/other Jews to wear,’ which, intriguingly, she has ‘only seen in black/and white photographs,’ leads her to conclude that yellow is a complex, ‘bittersweet colour.’

Choosing our own colour, we mind-mapped its particular connections for us, using this material and Schneider’s model to compose our own poems. Some found that colour opened the door to vivid childhood memories, from mother’s bright red lipstick to the taste of lime sherbet.

300px-St._Deiniol's_LibraryWe moved on from memories to observing the colours around us, choosing one to focus on as we wandered in and around Gladstone’s Library, and naming the particular shades we found. This was a way of using the writing process to sharpen visual awareness. The essence of writing, after all, is in taking time to observe things and note them down. Our Gladstone’s colour chart included brickwork red, rusty blue of an outdoor fountain, and peppermint green of corridor walls. The activity reminded us of the variety, even within one colour, as in an online Colour Thesaurus, that distinguishes between the yellow of butter and dandelion; the green shamrock or fern, the grey of dove and pewter.

Finally, having explored colour’s impact on us from outside in, we looked at how we could use colour to express something of ourselves. We wrote short ‘two-tone’ colour poems to encapsulate a couple of our contrasting aspects. Below is one of the poems created:



Part of me is a deep dark blue

Reserved. Introverted. Distant,

And yet perceptive, calm and centred;

A soothing balm of peace for the fervent heat of life.

But in certain situations I will fill a roomsunflower-against-blue-sky-tracie-kaska

With the joyful light of sunflower yellow.

A smile. A wave. A laugh,

Of reassurance that all shall be well.

Both colours are needed and cherished. Given as gifts

Of vibrant yellow life, and cool blue depth.

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  • About Julia


    From writing stories for my younger brother, to penning poems for the School Magazine and filling a growing pile of personal journals, the written word has always been part of my life’s journey.

    I started out as an English Teacher and subsequently retrained as a Counsellor. I have counselled in a GP Surgery and worked with various Employee Assistance Schemes and Charitable Trusts alongside seeing private clients.

    Although I have done some freelance journalism and written four non-fiction books, creative writing has become my main focus in recent years.

    My poems have appeared online on sites including Amaryllis, Silver Birch Press, Clear Poetry, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, Riggwelter and Ink,Sweat and Tears. I have been published in Curlew and Bucks Mill Magazine, and anthologised in Our Hearts Still Sing. My first poetry collection, Chester City Walls, came out in 2015.

    Read more about Julia
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