The Color of Age

The Color of Age is a collaboration piece of 188 participants who answered the question, What Color is Your Age? This abstract artwork showcases their answers.
The Color of Age by Kimba Livesay
Kimba Livesay, The Color of Age, Acrylic on Canvas 24x30x.5, 2023. In Private Collection.

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Close up of abstract art The Color of Age by Kimba Livesay

 

The Idea

My wife Julie has a PhD in gerontology, the study of aging. I wanted to do a new art piece for her office but what does gerontology look like? Better yet, what does aging look like in color? And so, for a couple of weeks I played with art supplies trying to depict the energy of aging. It didn’t happen. And then it happened! That bright and creative lightbulb went off.

The Question

What color do you associate with your age? Not your favorite color but the color of your age. I had friends who told me age didn’t have a color and that’s ok because for them it didn’t. But 188 people did answer the questions. And I thought the results were very interesting.

The Results

The youngest participant is 3, the oldest 88 and in between is 85 years of people living in color. I noticed patterns early in the process. For example, 9-year-old boys love the color green. Of course, because green is the color for questions and growth. And what’s interesting is that green comes roaring back for people in their 50’s because of new questions and growth.

Most people in their 30’s selected pale or passive colors. I’m not a sociologist but I bet there is a reason for that. The 40’s group begin to bring brighter colors but also more unique colors like Olivine. Visual language really takes a complex turn for people in their 50’s because they are not just responding with green but variations like sage, lime, Kelly and hunter. The same was true for other colors. By the time I got to the 60’s there was an explosion of color variations, sky blue, pale orange, and pearl white just to name a few. The 70’s began to pull away from color diversity and leaned into earth colors and of course, the color purple. I am not surprised, Purple is the color of intuition, insight, and spirituality. The 80’s made a return that was not unlike the beginning, they went back to basic colors.

The Painting

Two participants selected 2 colors and 1 person selected 3. My hunch is that these people are in the habit of expressing themselves through visual language. The rainbow was selected twice. I did not add the exact rainbow to the painting, but I did include the colors. A person in their 30’s shared that their favorite color was reflective and so I used pearl acrylics in that age group to reflect that choice.

The three most popular colors across all age groups were blue, yellow, and purple. I divided the canvas into these colors based on their popularity. Ages and corresponding colors are represented by a circle. The bigger the circle the more participants answered with that color. The larger circles have different hues to create variance and depth. There are a total of 78 circles. I selected the circle to represent the circle of life and that brings us back to the beginning, the study of aging.

 

Abstract Art, The Color of Age Worksheet by Kimba Livesay
Kimba Livesay, The Color of Age Worksheet, 2023

 

Abstract Art, The Color of Age Study by Kimba Livesay
Kimba Livesay, The Color of Age Study, 2023

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