Mother-Daughter Duo Decode 'The Secret Language of Color' In Their New Book

OPB | Oct. 31, 2013 11:30 a.m. | Updated: Nov. 1, 2013 12:17 a.m.

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Joanne and Arielle Eckstut are the authors of The Secret Language of Color.

Joanne and Arielle Eckstut are the authors of The Secret Language of Color.

Tess Freeman / OPB

“We’d always wanted to do a project together and color was the thing that bonded us,” says Arielle Eckstut of her decision to coauthor The Secret Language of Color with her mother, Joanne.

“My mom was a visual artist and so I grew up with color all around me,” she reports.

Arielle also has a background in publishing, so the decision to write the book with her mother dovetailed well with their combined experience and expertise. The mother-daughter team stopped by OPB to make an appearance on the State of Wonder arts radio program.

The Secret Language of Color was published by Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers.

The Secret Language of Color was published by Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers.

“We started out, actually, wanting to write a book for kids and as we delved into the material we found that it was so rich and so fabulous, that we didn’t want to limit it to an audience of just children; we wanted it to be for everyone,” says Arielle.

The resulting book is a thorough investigation of the chemical, physical and social characteristics of color. Just as you might expect a book about color to look, it is replete with splash pages of arresting images and diagrams using bold and vibrant colors to demonstrate different properties, as well as characteristics of how and why we see color. The book also addresses some of the more common questions and misconceptions we have.

“What’s so weird about color is that if you’re looking at a red rose, the rose is actually absorbing every wavelength of light that is not red and then reflecting back to us the wavelengths that we perceive as red,” Joann says.

The book is full of facts and explanations that help us better understand the human relationship to color and its effect on the way we organize our world.

“The thing that’s most important is that you need to understand [that] what we’re seeing, we’re only seeing after it’s processed by our brains. It’s not something physical, per se,” says Joanne.

To hear the full interview with Arielle and Joann Eckstut, click on the audio link at the top of this article. State of Wonder premieres Saturday, November 2 at noon on OPB Radio.


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