Happy Earth Tone Day!
On Earth Day, we tend to see a lot of green and blue imagery. That makes sense, because viewed from space, the earth is blue and green.
And here in Michigan, when we look around in a natural setting in spring and summer: we see trees and plants. We’ll also see lots of water features like ponds, rivers, and lakes: more blues and greens!
However, if you look at the actual earth from where you are now: you’ll see soil. Our dirt contains a lot of brown and gray hues. It’s why we call colors with brown and gray “earth tones.”
Generally, when we hear the term “earth tone” — we think of neutral colors. Neutral colors or earth tones keep us grounded because they remind us of the soil.
People tend to find neutral tones soothing or calming. So much so, that many people may think neutral colors are boring!
But neutral tones have a beauty all their own. Earth tones and neutrals can make more vivid and exciting colors — like blue and green — really stand out. You wouldn’t be able to appreciate colors like blue, red, green, orange, yellow, and purple if you didn’t have neutral colors for comparison.
So how can we create neutral colors or earth tones? When we mix two complementary colors from the opposite side of the RGB (red-green-blue) color wheel, we’ll get a pure neutral of gray, black, or white.
And when we combine any of the colors on the RGB wheel with gray, black, or white — we’ll get what’s called a near-neutral. Near neutral colors include browns and tans — as well as ochres, siennas, and umbers.
When you need time to think and reflect, put yourself in an environment filled with earth tones. Neutral colors can help you feel tranquil and composed. And when you want an intense color to stand out, consider pairing it with an earth tone or other neutral color.
Without neutral colors and earth tones, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the riot of colors that bloom in the spring. We need the quiet beauty of earth tones and neutrals in our backgrounds to bring out the brilliance of all the other colors.
Go ahead and celebrate Earth Day with lots of blues and greens. But remember, it’s our humble, muted earth tones that make blue skies, green trees, and springtime flowers look spectacular.