Colour and you: how colour shapes the world and your Life

Spring 2011 Program

Colour. We’re drenched in it. Moved by it. Mad for it.

We reflect it, select it, apply it, debate it.


 All this we know.

Now, find out what you don’t know.

Take a tour of colour with us. Learn about

• the colours of  the heavens and what they tell us

•the link between colour and contentment

•how colour in the hands of masters can influence how you perceive the world

•what your brain knows about colour that you don’t

•the colour of music

Sign up today for five thought-provoking talks by some of Canada’s foremost speakers on the art, science and psychology of colour.

March 31, 2011 - Heavenly hues: what the colours of the universe tell us

 ~ James Taylor

The heavens reveal a spectacular array of colours: golden suns and crimson sunsets, blue summer skies and silver moons. Mars shines rusty red, Neptune glows like an azure sea, and the nebulae of the Milky Way glitter like jewel boxes. Where do these colours come from and what can they tell us?  Learn how we perceive colour in the natural world, and find out about the properties of light using images from astronomy.

James Taylor is assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo. His research focuses on dark matter: the mysterious substance that surrounds galaxies like our Milky Way.

April 7, 2011 The psychology of colour: why too much white is bad for your health

 ~ Janice Lindsay

Janice LindsayWe live according to rules of colour that are millions of years old—a wisdom so essential to our survival, it is ingrained in our DNA. By connecting the dots that link the psychology, biology, history and aesthetics of colour, you’ll find out why women understand and use colour differently from men, how colour affects our perception of place and space, and how we apply it to achieve comfort, health and happiness.

Janice Lindsay is one of Canada’s leading colour designers, consultants and speakers. Known as the Globe and Mail’s “design diva,” her book, All About Colour, takes readers on a spellbinding tour of colour and its contribution to our quality of life.

April 14, 2011 - On the canvas: how Cezanne, Matisse, and Mondrian used colour

 ~ Ron Shuebrook

Ron ShuebrookIn the same way that writers bend language to express ideas in creative ways, so painters use colour to express meaning in their works. What did modern artists Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, and Piet Mondrian discover about the power of colour to inspire, provoke and satisfy? What did the investigations by later twentieth century painters such as Josef Albers, Hans Hofmann, and Jack Bush reveal about how colour can affect perception and space? And what can we draw from these historically influential insights today?

Ron Shuebrook is an internationally exhibiting painter, and former president of the Ontario College of Art and Design. OCAD awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contributions to art and higher education.

April 21, 2011 - Perceiving colour: why your brain matters more than your eyes

 ~ Amir Raz

Amir RazSome people have a greater quantity of colour-sensitive cones in their retina than others. Yet, most of us appear to perceive colours in the same way. That’s because colour perception is controlled more by our brains than by our eyes. From colour blindness to a condition that compels people to visualize numbers and characters in colour, we’ll explore the relationship between colour and brain science—including why red pills stimulate and blue pills calm.

Amir Raz holds the Canada Research Chair in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention at McGill University. He heads the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at McGill and the Clinical Neuroscience and Applied Cognition Laboratory at the Jewish General Hospital. Amir Raz's talk was a highlight of the memory series in 2009. We welcome him back.

April 28, 2011 - Your mind’s ear: what colour is that concerto in D major?

 ~ Gordon Greene

Gordon GreeneMusic readily imitates birds and storms. Can it evoke colour, too? If you hear a funeral march, do you see black? Fourteenth century composers used contrasting inks to signify changes of rhythm. Oliver Messiaen's musical compositions are known for “the rapid changing of intense colours.” And Alexander Scriabin’s symphony Prometheus was intended to be performed with a play of coloured light projected from a newly invented colour organ. Enjoy numerous musical examples as we draw the link between music and colour.

Gordon Greene served as chair of music history at University of Western Ontario, and dean of music at Wilfrid Laurier University. He has been offering music sessions to lifelong learning groups in Ontario and Florida for 10 years.