Saturday, August 23, 2014

Blue with Green Should Never Be Seen

Sometimes--actually quite frequently--I wonder where I've been all these years. One way this came up was last weekend when, gathering with my family, we were talking about what each person's favorite color was. I don't know exactly how this led to my sister telling us about a conversation she had had with my father that I don't remember ever having heard before.

Back in the distant days of high school, she and I belonged to a club called the Juniorettes, which was a teen club sponsored by the Junior Women's club. In it's slightly eccentric blend of informality and convention, we each had a little badge made out of felt, which was a smaller piece of blue on larger piece of green. Maybe it had a little pin in the middle--I don't have one handy to look at.

I don't actually remember when we ever wore these badges. Maybe at every meeting? Maybe only on special occasions. In any case, they must have come out of the box at some point, because my sister tells me that my father was noticing her pin one day and said, "Blue with green should never be seen."

This did not seem to strike anyone else in the family with surprise. Someone knew that the whole saying was "Blue with green should never be seen, except with something in between." My niece, who takes art classes, went on to explain that the colors are too close together on the color wheel.

There are several funny things about this. First of all, although my father was interested in many things, I find it a little hard to imagine him weighing in on this convention. So I must conclude that this is one of those adages that he picked up at an impressionable age, like the one about not wearing white after Labor Day, which even I remember my Illinois relatives quoting with some authority (it's not really observed in my strata of California society, unless it's just me not observing it--not entirely beyond the realm of possibility.)

The second thing is, how does everyone else know this adage, and after all these years, this is the first I've heard of it? It's one thing when you come across some piece of advice that comes from somewhere else, but apparently everyone in my family had heard this news but me. 

Sometimes we can be skeptical of some piece of collective wisdom. It's very rare in my experience, though, to have been sheltered somehow from such knowledge and find out that you have been going along thinking exactly the opposite. Because I think green and blue together are BEAUTIFUL.

And so, apparently, does God. Or whoever does the interior design for this simulation we're currently caught up in.

(The painting at the top is by Nelson Ferreira, from his Penumbra series. And speaking of penumbras, if you would like to see some spectacular blue tulips--in a backdrop of green--just go to Kathleen Kirk's blog post HERE and scroll on down...)


  1. I just got home and had to edit this entire post because I had somehow written the expression wrong multiple times.

  2. I love blue and green together, too!

  3. I somehow would have guessed that, Kathleen.

    I went to an outdoor talent show last night, and while I was standing with the pre-show crowd, I looked over and saw one green plant with bright blue flowers glowing in the evening light. It was like a reward for my efforts.

  4. I'm wondering about the origin of this saying. Was it a mnemonic tool or a political statement? Since blue and green are analogous colors, it doesn't make sense as a fashion doctrine.

  5. Hmm. This may deserve a follow up post, not that I promise to clear anything up.

  6. Spare a thought for the colour blind.

    This is how I see the world, alas:

    My kids were horrified...

  7. Oddly, I did think of you in regard to this, Adrian, as you've mentioned this before, and apparently there is a saying vying for pride of place, which is "RED and green should never be seen, except upon an Irish queen." There doesn't seem to be much info out there on which came first.

    The photo show may make your daughters treat you more kindly when they stop to think about it. However, the Van Goghs don't come off so bad, which is kind of surprising since he is so much about vibrant color.

  8. Thanks, Seana, I enjoyed reading this, partly due to the memories, but mostly as interesting. I too love blue and green together, but I can understand the art rule your niece explained. Good memories of Juniorettes, however, I have no memory of wearing a pin. I'm sure I must have had one, but it has left my memory bank. (Hopefully I'm not losing any other memories, or if I must, may they only be minor ones). Janet

  9. Thanks, Janet. I remember the pin fairly well, but I have no recollection of whether we wore them to the meetings. The group was such an odd mix of the formal and the informal that I can't decide whether it would have been expected that we wore the pin to meetings.