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Palomar Observatory

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Revenge of the Ochre


I don't want to sound like some color nazi, but... Have you noticed the invasion of strange yellow hues that are starting to litter the visual landscape? There are so many bizarre pumpkins and siennas sprouting up you'd think they were the new black.

The first hint of the new chroma was a year ago at the Fallbrook Art Center. Strong but tasteful. Au courant. Bold and slightly off putting. Yes it offended a few people, but there will always be a few of those. Can't please everybody, you know.

When the new Fallbrook Library was built, a few fingers in town started wagging about the funny new colors. Not the fire hydrant look of the Art Center, a bit warmer palette but in the same aesthetic family. Nice enough. I personally like it. Obviously the style gods on high have made their decision regarding the new yellow trend and I never got the memo.

At the north end of town, a nice corner had been hit with entropy and decay over the decades and was starting to look quite shabby. I sat on a committee and drafted up a letter to the absentee owner, a Russian lady from Los Angeles, asking her if she could give it some tlc and a new coat of paint. We would even put up the money for the paint.

She finally assented. Surprise! This is what we got. Hideous.





As if the garish main color wasn't bad enough, she complimented it with a rust trim, not that any color would have saved this one. She told Paul that she wanted a nice fresh modern color. Like putting funky lipstick on a pig.


When Leslie and I were tooling around Los Angeles last week we did see a lot of ochre creeping in. While it looks decent on an extremely modern or postmodern application, it does absolutely nothing for a bad seventies mansard roof.

I used to paint and made my living as a sign painter for a while. My mentor and teacher, the late Les Gampp, told me that certain colors were verboten. You rarely see green signs because the proper shade of green is always very hard to select. Obviously, ditto yellow.

When I was building homes I was also very hands on and careful about palettes as well. I am not sure that I am signing on to this yellow thing and am hoping that it is a temporary aberration. Call me ultra sensitive.

Not to go Mr. Blackwell on you but there are several other notable color fails around town.

The owner of the Spa, a very nice person, told me that she was actually color blind (no kidding...) and a consultant picked out the rouge and olive color scheme for her, so dreadfully accented with the brick red awning. The consultant said that they would be good colors for feng shui. Would a firing squad be too severe for this miscreant? Isn't it time to take some people's crayons away?

And finally my own building. The previous owner, who I still share a common wall with, an architect who should know better, decided to marry pine green and pepto bismol pink for this one. Which I could use a swig of after looking at the incongruent colors. Sorry folks, too cheap to repaint, you're just going to have to live with it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

all of the examples you cite, i think they're pretty cool, color-wise...go bold or go home...

the donald

barbara and nancy said...

Maybe it's just your photos, but I don't see any difference between the Russian Lady's building and the library and the Art Center. It's all shades of orange- not ochre. And they all offend this,admittedly, old and maybe out-of-touch artist. I do try to stay up to date and I think I can tell the difference between good modern architecture and bad, likewise with color schemes and art. I can imagine places where orange looks good but this isn't it. So there!!!
It's not that I don't like bold. I do.