25/10/2013 07:45 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

The Colour Yellow, Autumn, How Not to Feel Blue

Yellow is 'a colour capable of charming God' (Vincent van Gogh from his letters to his brother Theo). Van Gogh's use of yellow is perhaps best seen in his Sunflowers which he considered to be a 'simple' painting (ironically one version sold for a record sum in 1987).

The colour yellow

Yellow is 'a colour capable of charming God' (Vincent van Gogh from his letters to his brother Theo). Van Gogh's use of yellow is perhaps best seen in his Sunflowers which he considered to be a 'simple' painting (ironically one version sold for a record sum in 1987).

The yellow flower below with feeding bee at least reminds us of the sun as we approach winter! 'To the ancient Egyptians, the honeybee was the creature that transformed the warmth of the sun's rays into golden sweetness.' (Reflections on Archetypal Images, Taschen.)

Yellow conjures up images of warmth, vitality, effervescence and the life force at its apogee.


Photo copyright S. van Dalen

The sun rises as a yellow orb, ascending, climbing high into the sky. With the rising sun we see our hopes growing as darkness is transformed into light. Religious types frequently say 'there is darkness before dawn', which reminds us that we must all go through a type of hell on earth before we see the light.


Photo copyright S. van Dalen

Buttercups are yellow too...

The hound demonstrates the 'yellowness' of buttercups (and this photo taken in full summer reminds us of warmer times!)


Photo copyright S. van Dalen


Autumn is in full swing now and I can smell, feel and see this third cycle of the year. Autumn or "Fall' as our North American cousins call it, is a period of transformation, a word which infers a state of movement towards something. Indeed, autumn is a period of raging storms, blustery winds and cold rain which mark an abrupt end to summer, the time of plenty and warmth. Autumn is also the beginning of winter and the start of the cold, dark days. Soon we will be freezing, catching colds and flu and hunkering down under duvets clutching our hot water bottles and gargling with neat whiskey.

During the autumn the last of the berries falls to the ground as do the seeds in the hope of transmuting the following spring into a new life and in order for the cycle to begin again. If you haven't made that blackberry jam yet it is simply too late. Nature is now shutting down in preparation of the Great, Big Sleep which will last until May.

In the woods I can smell the Autumn: the dampness as the rain pelts down with no sun to dry it out, the rotting leaves, the fermenting fruits which send the deer into a drunken stupor and make the wasps very angry. I can hear the autumn too: the incessant tock, tock, tock of hard rain from the storms and saturated atmosphere landing on the leaves in the woods, the plop of chestnuts, beech nuts and acorns as they catapult onto the soggy earth.

The colour yellow in its various hues is everywhere too. Burnt, blinding, bright yellow turns to burnt orange and burnished brown as the autumn leaves fall to the ground.


Photo copyright S. van Dalen

Autumn is a time to begin storing for the winter like the squirrel who although he forgets where he buries his treasure, keeps stealing, collecting and foraging in the hope that when he does need a square meal he'll remember where to find it. The squirrel, along with his mammal friends and even the birds, made his babies earlier in the year who are now fully grown. Now all that is left for him to do is to settle in to wait, watch and hope for the spring with its promise of a new beginning.


Photo copyright S. van Dalen

How not to feel blue

Strangely, the colour yellow makes me think of blue. And blue is a mood- many Brits are now dreading the arrival of the dark, grey, melancholic skies that will remain with us here in the UK until next May. That age-old question of 'how not to feel miserable?' when every morning as we draw open the curtains we will see the same lead-grey sky and misty rain, heavy rain, pouring rain, stormy rain, cold rain and freezing rain, requires an urgent response. Here's my advice:

Our British weather pushes us deep within ourselves where we are forced to confront those elements in our lives that we would rather forget. It's hard to feel optimistic and happy when the weather traps us indoors and where we have to fight off daily a severe case of cabin fever. I've found that keeping busy and falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day helps keep me sane. My other tip is to keep things in a healthy perspective and not to dwell or over analyse anything. The dark, cold months will feel interminable if we don't lighten up (literally) and take everything just a little less seriously.


Photo and painting, La merde, copyright S. van Dalen