The Color White – Is White your favorite or Lucky color?

By Charles L Harmon

The Color White

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The Color White

Most of us don’t think too much about colors and how they may affect us. Even so, it doesn’t take much to realize that if colors mean anything, then the color white must have some pretty important meanings.

Just look around and you probably won’t have to look far before you see something white. Even nature, regardless of the seasons you can find either bold, or somewhere in between, traces of white, whether it’s snow in the winter, white sand on the beaches,

wild garlic

The white flower of wild garlic

white flowers in bloom or the fluffy white clouds in the sky.

 

White like Snow, Ice, Beaches

Snow and ice are normally white because the structure of transparent water ice crystals the light. Many types of clouds have a similar effect because water droplets diffuse the white light from the Sun.

white scene

There are lots of mountains with year-round snow that are named accordingly: Mauna Kea means White Mountain in Hawaiian. Mont Blanc means White Mountain in French. Changbai Mountains literally meaning ‘Perpetually White.’ Mountains mark the border between China and Korea. Mount Kilimanjaro’s name might originate from the Swahili word meaning little white hill.

The White Sea, an inlet of the Barents Sea on the northwest coast of Russia is probably named such due to the icy environment. There are beaches with sand containing high amounts of quartz that also appear white. This could explain the large number of islands called White Island.
winter white cabin
 

White in Buildings

You cannot go into a building without seeing the white walls and ceilings. Take your home or apartment for example not too many don’t have white walls. Definitely the ceilings are white, almost without exception.

It would be rare indeed if you walked into someone’s home where the ceilings were not white or some shade of white.

white office interior

Actually if you buy a new house or move into a new apartment in California, where I live, the whole house has white walls and ceilings.

Of course the model homes you might see usually have nice colorful walls. However, if you want such colorful walls for your own house you have to either do it yourself. Alternatively you could pay someone (it’s not cheap) to paint them in the colors you want.

 
white interior

A few Color White Quotes

Color can do anything that black-and-white can. ~ Vincente Minnelli

 

Truth knows no color; it appeals to intelligence. ~ James Hal Cone

 

I was blown away by being able to color. Then I started to draw… bringing a blank white canvas to life was fascinating. ~ James De La Vega

 

Color television! Bah, I won’t believe it until I see it in black and white. ~ Samuel Goldwyn

 

kiss this opportunity

 

We’re not thought of in terms of color because we are entertainers. We are there to entertain you not because we are black, white, pink, or green or gay or straight or because we are Catholic or Protestant. ~ Eartha Kitt

 

I support any procedure that allows photographers to express themselves, whether that involves color, black and white, platinum, palladium and digital technology. ~ John Sexton

 

Baseball is a game of race, creed, and color. The race is to first base. The creed is the rules of the game. The color? Well, the home team wears white uniforms, and the visiting team wears gray. ~ Joe Garagiola

 
color white

Lots more of the Color White

The color White projects purity, and cleanliness. It is a neutral color and any other color can go well with it. Go to a doctor’s office and you’ll see many of them in white coats. Go to a wedding and of course you will see brides in a traditional white gown.

Hospitals usually have virtually all white walls, except some have gotten smarter and actually changed children’s areas to bright colorful non-white colors and sometimes added designs to the walls so the plain white look is missing in those areas of the hospital. In some older residential areas you still may see a white picket fence surrounding a home.

In business and on the internet a white paper will often be an authoritative report on a major issue; a government report outlining policy; or a short treatise whose purpose is to educate industry or inquisitive customers.

By associating a paper with the color white it may signify clean facts and unbiased information. However, my advice is to take such white papers “with a grain of salt” as they could easily be a disguised form of subliminal advertising (this is my own opinion).

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snow-capped mountains

Colors have Meanings

Although we may not normally think of it this way, but colors do have meanings. They can affect us emotionally and different colors affect us in different ways. In The Color Pink article we saw how pink walls in athletic locker rooms seemed to have a weakening effect on the players. It also helped calm prisoners so some prison walls and areas are painted pink.

 
white cloud

What about Emotions?

White also has some emotional effect on us. White is the color of purity. Not just in the United States, but in many other countries brides wear beautiful white gowns, whether it’s because white symbolizes a virgin or not that is the long-current fashion.

White means kindness, gentleness and peacefulness. You’ve all seen the white flag waving in movies and elsewhere where someone is in distress. White symbolizes a peaceful situation. Even just recently in the terrible earthquake in Japan, there were images of people sitting and standing on their rooftops waving a white flag signaling for help.

In war, especially, waving a whit flag symbolizes a non-threatening situation, like an injury of people giving up to the other side. Maybe that’s why hospitals are generally all white inside – to help give the appearance of a nice, calm and peaceful environment.

 
prism and white light

Some Science about White Light

Technically speaking, white is not a color, but a combination of all colors. It is the complete energy of light. Light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum and like a radio or TV signal but at a higher frequency that our eyes are sensitive to.

The light we see is really a combination of many colors in such a way that it is essentially seen as white. When we see a rainbow we see some of the colors that make up that light because the light is broken down to its individual colors.

White light is the effect of combining the visible colors of light in just the right proportions to make the light white to our eyes. This is the same proportion that is present in solar light or light from the sun.

For ordinary purposes forget the supposed technicality about white not being a color. White is a color that we perceive by light stimulating all three types of color sensitive cone cells in the human eye in nearly equal amounts, and with high brightness compared to the surroundings.

White is at the extreme end of the visual spectrum, when considering both hue and shade. Because white objects such as snow, clouds, and flowers often appear in nature, it is the making of lots of symbolism.

 
white light

Human culture and the Color White

Human culture has so many references to the color white; most of which are related to purity and cleanness. Now on the other end of the light spectrum is the opposite of white, that’s black. The color Black usually has an almost opposite symbolism to white which; will be discussed elsewhere.

The colors of light have a temperature and can be measured by scientists. Daylight can vary from a cool red color up to a bluish 5,600 K (K=Kelvin). In astronomy one measure of star type is by the color temperature of the star.

For instance white dwarfs are small dense stars thought to be the final evolutionary state. Computer displays sometimes have a control for color temperature which allows the user to select the color temperature of the light the computer produces from the electrical signal corresponding to white light.

 

white waves

Light for Indoor Plants

Artificial light sources can provide an alternative or supplement any existing light for plants growing indoors. Standard incandescent bulbs do little for plant growth whereas fluorescent lights provide excellent light quality.

“Cool”, or “blue“, fluorescent lights at 6500k (Kelvin) provide light needed for green foliage plants, while “warm”, or “red“, fluorescent lights at 3000k provide the necessary light needed for blooming flowers and fruits. Warm whites are better for flowering plants while cool whites are more suitable for green, leafy growth. Used together, these two bulb types are close to the full spectrum of light that comes from the sun, although less powerful than real sunlight.

On a different note (bad or good, depending on who’s reading this) those same fluorescent lights can often be seen inside the houses and garages on TV when those illegally growing Marijuana inside those houses get “busted” (arrested).

 

Reiterating some White Qualities

flourescent white lightThe color white stands for wholeness and completion. In many cultures the color white represents openness and truth. White sometimes has a cold quality. You can notice this when you look at some fluorescent lights.

If I walk into my garage at night and turn on the lights several fluorescent lights come on, but there is a cold feeling and unlike sunlight the warmth you feel, and I don’t mean temperature, is just not there.

However, it should be noted that there are “warm fluorescent lights” which are more like sunlight. Such lights are often used to provide artificial sunlight for plants growing indoors as indicated above. Also now with LED lights almost becoming standard in many circumstances, there are warmer colored white LED light bulbs now.

White materials show colored stains and dirt very clearly, due to the high contrast of other colors, except real pale colors. This is the likely reason it is associated with purity and cleanness. White is Monday’s color. When someone gives you White daisies they are a symbol of love.

Here are a few other things the color white is said to do:

  • to start a new or fresh beginning
  • purify your thoughts or actions
  • to help clear your mind
  • to clear clutter and obstacles from your life


Some Other uses of White

whitw horseWhite horses have a special significance in the mythologies of different cultures. They are often associated with the sun chariot, with warrior-heroes, with fertility, or with an end-of-time saviour, but other interpretations exist as well.

The color white is very often used in a religious context; which could easily be a topic of its own. In some cultures white is worn at funerals.

In Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian tradition, white is the color of mourning and death. White also represented death in ancient Egypt, representing the lifeless desert that covered much of the country.

This is generally the opposite of Western traditions where black is used in such occasions. On the other end of the scale, in ancient Egypt, black was considered the color of life. It represented the mud-covered fertile lands which were created by the flooding Nile River which may have given the country its name Kemet, or “black land”.

 

White and Black Contrasts

color white

Concept spaceship powered by light in the blackness of space.

White and Black are opposite colors. They have the biggest visual contrast of all the colors. This characteristic can easily be extended or exploited to include other opposite concepts such as good and evil and day and night.

In Western Civilization White often represents purity or innocence. White clothing or any white objects are easy to stain or discolor because of the high contrast between white and most colors. In most Western countries white gowns are worn by brides at weddings.

Also you’ll find Angels typically shown or painted clothed in white robes. Healing or so-called “good” magic is called White magic.

color white

The opposite of that is called “Black Magic.” According to Wikipedia, in early Western films the stereotype “good guy” wore a white hat while the “bad guy” wore a black hat. We see this used today in the “black hat” and “white hat” terms used for people who abuse and counter abuse computer systems respectively.

yin yang

yin yang

There is great influence in Eastern culture in Taoism where Yin and Yang is usually depicted in black and white and the two colors as opposites. In board games where they have two opponents, frequently one opponent is white, the other is black, illustrated in games such as go, chess, and checkers.

 

Want some Controversy and Confusion?

white hair lady“White people* (also called Caucasian) is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin. Rather than a straightforward description of skin color, the term white denotes a specific set of ethnic groups and functions as a color metaphor for race.

The most used definition of a ‘white person’ is a person of European ancestry. However, the definition of a ‘white person’ differs according to geographical and historical context, and various social constructions of whiteness have had implications in many different areas.

color whiteHere are some; in terms of national identity, consanguinity, public policy, religion, and population statistics. White has severe implications in racial segregation, affirmative action, eugenics, racial marginalization and racial quotas.

The concept has been applied with varying degrees of formality and internal consistency in disciplines including: sociology, politics, genetics, biology, medicine, biomedicine, language, culture, and law.

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* From Wikipedia

 

If you are one of the many people whose favorite color is WHITE please enter a reply below indicating that is your favorite color.

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