Yellow: The Color

Van_Gogh_Yellow_House1Yellow is the color of sunshine, butter, and daffodils. It’s happy faces and polka-dot bikinis, popcorn and lemonade. Dorothy followed the Yellow Brick Road and the Beatles lived in a Yellow Submarine. We wear yellow ribbons to support our troops and yellow silicon bracelets to remind ourselves to Live Strong.

Yellow is a joyful color — unless you’re seeing it on the whites of your eyes or in your baby’s poop.

Pale, golden yellow is the color of beach sand and the sun that shines overhead. It’s the color of canaries and canary diamonds. Tennis balls are yellow and so are scrambled eggs.

On signs, yellow means caution; in street lights it means Slow Down. Yellow pearls are luminous and alluring. Yellow teeth, less so.

Yellow can be wispy pale, as in the delicate silk of antique lingerie — or it can be be aggressively bright as it charges through traffic in the guise of a city taxi. Yellow school buses ferry children to their places of learning.

In ancient China, yellow represented Earth — the fifth element. It also represented happiness. In India, yellow is the color of the third Chakra — the one that is associated with the solar plexus area.

Although generally a color with connotations of joy and enlightenment, the color sometimes has negative associations as well. To call someone “yellow” or “yellow-bellied” is to label him/her a coward.

This page explores the color yellow as it appears in nature and in our culture. Gemstones, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and animals all occur naturally in this hue. Explore their beauty and the many shades and nuances of the color yellow.

yellow words


Yellow/Gold Gems and Minerals

Yellow gems and minerals occur in a wide range of textures and hues and are found in many places, from deep within the earth to waters, both salt and fresh. While most are mineral based, some are organic. Lustrous pearls are the beautiful result of an oyster’s efforts to protect itself from an irritating piece of grit. Golden amber is basically solidified tree sap — and some of the most beautiful and intriguing examples include insects trapped within its depths. Topaz and citrine are probably the ones that first spring to mind when naming yellow gems, but there are yellow versions of most gemstone types: diamond, sapphire, tourmaline, garnet, and even opal.


Yellow Flowers

Yellow flowers make happy gardens. Think daisies and snapdragons, sunflowers and zinnias. Yellow roses are romantic; lilies and orchids are elegant and sculptural. Dandelions might not usually crop (!) up in a list of favorite yellow flowers, but for me, they evoke lazy childhood summers and the simple pleasures of making a chain of little yellow blooms.


Yellow Creatures


 Yellow Fruits and Veggies


 Gold, Gold, Gold

gold collage

When yellow gets all fancy, it turns to gold. Gold doubloons, Leprechaun gold, gold bullion. Midas had the golden touch, but found golden apples difficult to digest. Jack stole the golden goose took good care of her because he knew: Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Tombs of ancient kings often were covered in gold. The treasures of King Tut are a prime example. Treasure hunters dive for pirate hoards, searching for those gold doubloons. Charlie found the Golden Ticket that led him to a sweet life at Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory.

We have the Golden Rule to tell us to treat others as we wish to be treated and Arisotle’s Golden Mean, which states that virtue is a point between two vices. Gold has been valued since ancient times and is used to signify the highest accolades: Olympic athletes are awarded gold medals, retirees receive gold watches, children who do well in school get gold stars.

Remember, though: All is not gold that glitters.


More Colors:
Black: The Color

colored pencils


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