Color’s power permeates our lives

November 10, 2013 

Every time I start to write one of my columns, long before I hit the first key, I ask myself, “What I am supposed to say this week?” And every time, if I just pause and sit quietly, the answer is sent.

Sometimes, it comes in the form of a comment someone makes. Other times, it comes in something that I read or see. This week, it came in many forms.

With all the beautiful changing colors of autumn, I’ve been thinking a lot about color. As I was looking at a tree the other day, it appeared to be set ablaze with every shade from brilliant yellow to red with all the various nuances of orange in between. It was so beautiful and powerful that it took my breath away.

“Wow,” I said out loud as I saw it. “What a blessing to have been at the place and time to relish the sunlight flickering off each colorful leaf.” As most of you know by now, being around colorful things gives me energy and makes me happy. So, that tree helped me focus the subject for my column on the blessings of color.

Of course, when I think of color, I think of artwork and my many years of studying art. When I was a young boy taking lessons with Houser Smith, he taught me something I’ve never forgotten: “Until you’re able to see things in their purest forms of black and white, you will never understand the power of color.”

Houser said this on more than one occasion. He insisted all of his students learn to draw and render in charcoal first before moving to the color wheel to create. Back then, I wanted to jump straight into the colorful tubes of paint with both feet but Houser wouldn’t hear of it and I certainly didn’t question him.

I had already starting jotting down some notes on things I wanted to include in this column about color when I came upon a Facebook post from Kristy Edwards. Kristy is a very talented artist and also my friend. Her post discussed drawing in charcoal. She posted several examples of renderings of some of the old masters’ charcoal creations and her desire to learn from them.

“I do believe studying these will affect my work,” she posted. I sat there in disbelief as I finished reading her post. Kristy provided my second sign.

A little later, I was checking my e-mails when I came upon one from my third-grade teacher, Miss Faye Coleman. The e-mail she was forwarding was about taking things for granted. The first word jumping out at me like a brightly colored green grasshopper was the word “color.” I couldn’t believe it! It was a series of photos that first were black and white and then slowly, to the sound of music, changed into brilliant color.

The photos were gorgeous as they appeared in black and white, but when they became their true colors, something magical happened. Seeing in color is an awesome blessing that we, more times than not, take for granted. Within a short period of time, I had received three signs about color. I knew I was on the right track.

We all know how beautiful a tree with changing leaves is or a glowing sunset. But have you ever stopped to think about what they would look like in just black and white? Yes, their form would be there. Yes, the lights and darks would be there. Yes, they would be beautiful just like that and if we had never seen them in color, we would be happy. But for me, once I’ve witnessed nature all bedecked in color, it’s hard to give color up.

This past summer, I’ve been dealing with some health issues. Because of them, many of my days seemed to be lacking color. Every morning I would wake up and remind myself how blessed I was that I didn’t have anything worse, as so many other people do. Although I’m an extremely positive person, I must confess, sometimes I had to give myself a pep talk to count my blessings. I had to remind myself of all the beautiful colors around me and I didn’t have to look too far to see them.

So here’s the message I’m supposed to share with you on this Sunday. It’s actually a very simple one. Color comes in many forms. It can be a person who sends a card or calls to check on you. It can be an individual who posts a positive message on Facebook or sends you an encouraging text.

Color radiates through a beautiful smile or an infectious laugh. Color can travel around the world on the wings of a prayer. Color is positive energy. Color is love. Color is faith. Color is hope. Color is joy. Houser was so right all those years ago. Color is powerful.

When your day seems to be bleak and lacking color, immediately shift the way you look at it. Instead of looking through a dull gray lens, open your eyes to all the color that surrounds you in the form of delightful blessings and be grateful for them.

During the years, I’ve found this to be true. We control the colors surrounding us. We even have the amazing ability and power to share them. If you want to invite more colors into the space around you, simply share with someone else. You will not only brighten their day, but also your own.

Thank you all for sharing your colors with me this past summer. I want you to know they’ve certainly made a difference in my life.

More with Mark

• Join Mark from 1-4 p.m. Saturday at Miss Dottie’s, 155 Bill Conn Parkway, Gray, for a book signing and demonstration. Mark will have all his new holiday merchandise on hand.

• Check out Mark’s website,, for current projects, recipes, Mark’s T-shirts, prints, cards and his collectible porcelain plates. Holiday merchandise coming soon.

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Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.

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