Recently in my partner’s New Jersey “country” backyard, the colors of the day struck me. White clapboard. Green grass. A sky so blue the eye could not find top or bottom. It was like the brilliant collage of a schoolboy: color-saturated construction paper pieced together in answer to the teacher’s assignment: “Show me Summer.”
But I realized that these blocks of color are each made of a million more, and the eye is always rewarded when you look closer. The wood fence was not just silver. It was silvery brown and taupe, washed with moss where the light couldn’t reach.
The siding was blinding-white in sun, lavender-hued in shadow. Grass, as grass-green as grass gets, hovered above deep brown. And the trees! No monitor setting high enough to capture the gazillions of tints and shades of greens in just one branch. Perhaps it trivializes things by saying so, but Nature gives great design lessons. The grass-above-earth scheme gives you license to place green sofa on chocolate carpet. Silvery-taupe slides easily into moss green, perhaps the perfect plan to inspire a bathroom. One tree teaches everything about making a monochromatic palette work: use every variation of the color, but mix light with shadow, shiny with matte, repeat shape but vary the scale. And items (whether fence plank or fabric swatch) viewed up close and then far away reveal two very different color stories. All these lessons, in just one backyard, ripe for the picking. I was surprised by how much could still be learned in just one afternoon of the most pleasant kind of Summer school. What happens when you look closer? P2