Feeling Blue? Seeing Red? Here's a Good Way to Express Emotions Through Color.

Claire spoonful of color


On a quick trip to Lowe’s one day, Claire Konishi found herself in a paint chip trance. Maybe you’ve been there? The spellbinding effect of row after row of every possible color and shade, represented with little round-edge card stock paint chips. But what really drew her in were the names. Kind Green. Imaginary Day. Pocket Full of Promise.

 “They’re so interesting, almost like little greetings in themselves,” says Claire. “I wanted to explore how something so mundane in a store can tap into our emotions.”

Explore, she did. Claire has been “collaging on paint chips since 2009,” according to her popular @spoonfullofcolor Instagram feed, where her beautifully simple color stories reside. Recently she had her own Color Emotions exhibit at the Southern California Children's Museum in Pasadena, sponsored by Sherwin Williams.

Southern California Children's Museum in Pasadena, California.

It’s refreshing to see my girls watching me do something I’m trained in, rather than folding laundry and keeping house."

Claire homeschools daughters Dottie, 3, and Cora, 6.

Claire holds a Master’s Degree in Advertising Design and once wrote greeting cards for American Greetings and Tiny Prints. Now she encourages her girls to express emotions and tell stories through color.

Cora’s habit of putting flowers in her pocket inspired this collage.

Today, in the midst of a global pandemic and the free-floating anxiety that comes along with it, I imagine color names like Angry Purple. Hungover Green. Pocket Full of Stress.

But the fact is that color can trigger memories, launch our imaginations, and help us process our feelings. And it might be just the thing to sooth right now.

Claire calls her work ‘process art’ with found objects. Scraps of paper, magazine clippings, leaves or flowers from outside. Anyone can do it. Including Claire’s 64 year-old mother with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. She struggles to carry on conversations, but she has no problem expressing herself through color collages. 

“I gave her paint chips and she was so totally in it for 2 hours, and it was interesting to see where she went with it,” explains Claire. “It was meditative for her because you’re connecting to something. You’re thinking deeply about something that is emotional. It’s a way for her to communicate.”

Creating A Color Story

First we choose a palette. Then we look at the paint chips in that palette, and set aside a few color names that may spark a fond memory (ie: Grandma's recipe box is the perfect shade of taupe that reminds me of my grandmother's worn, wooden box stuffed with handwritten recipes). We thumb through magazines, old books, postcards, etc for anything the hits a chord with the color name or the color itself. It is fun to see a simple paint chip come to life with the use of different mediums. It now is transformed into a story, and gives the color a whole new meaning.

Claire has created some 400 collages and someday she would like to create a coffee table book about color psychology. Check out more of her work and find inspiration on Instagram @spoonfullofcolor 

Color Story

Cora's finished color story with the Featherlight Infinity scarf in Orchid Hush as the backdrop.

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