Douglas McBay: Standardized-Canadian-Urban-Nighttime Snow: #f8aa1a

Other Colours Douglas McBay: Standardized-Canadian-Urban-Nighttime Snow: #f8aa1a


I’ve chosen this colour for several reasons, but primarily because as a night owl from a young age, I recall focusing on the streetlights (I’d later learn these were sodium lights) and their orange environmental hue came to be the palette against which all other colours were compared and contrasted. It was the colour that came to signify nighttime, and throughout every season and type of weather the reflections of this colour took on major and defining aspects of the environment for me. And, as night came to be the time increasingly in which I spent most of my waking life, this became the background colour of my life. In recent years these lights (sodium lights) have begun to be replaced by LEDs (due to their efficiency; a fact which I do not dispute). However, the absence of this colour is an oddity to which I’ve increasingly grown accustomed to. It’s as though the nighttime sun has changed colour, which is why I find it so odd to interact with a world that seems obsessed more with the colour of an area in the daylight, than those colours we perceive in the night. It is these night colours we have affected the most anyways. The day has always been coloured by the sun and clouds, while the night is something we’ve taken, constructed, and coloured for our use and our moods as humans. Everything from this mundane streetlamp to the flashing lights found at a rave; some might even argue that this effect on the night is one of the major differences between humans now and those of the past. I’m not arguing this is better or worse, but it’s a fact that humans have taken the darkest times of the day and added light for our convenience and entertainment. We even create darkness for showing off the cast of these lights (films, etc.).

I’ve also selected this colour because frankly, I think white LEDs are ugly and jarring but functional. The colours they offer remind me of a surgery, and I want to move away from the clinical atmosphere of their light and towards something more obscuring. It is for these reasons I propose to recreate the colours of the sodium street lamp without the actual sodium light; this orange atmospheric hue as the colour of choice for nighttime. This colour (when painted liberally in an area and exposed to these new white LEDs) will recreate those same scenes at night, restoring the orange lost in the technological change, making the sky and its surroundings emulate the characteristic colour of the past. No more the white snow, or the green grass; instead, the vibrant orange snow, and the grass coloured in shadows.

Having grown up in an area with a fair amount of snow, I’ve named the colour based on this premise.

Standardized-Canadian-Urban-Nighttime Snow: Very strong tinting properties. Can be used to make LEDs more traditional-coloured and less blaring. Using it in the same environment as other colours outside at night will result in a hue not dissimilar to those found in many major urban centres, from the early 1970s until the mid-to-late 2010s. Correct pairing with white snow in large enough quantities during the night will result in an orange sky.

Other Colours

Other Colours was conceived in response to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s True Colours, a program that offers grants to incentivize homeowners to restore heritage homes to their ‘true’ Victorian, Edwardian and War Time era (1880–1930) colours, with paint swatches such as “Oxford Bluff” and “Edwardian Pewter”. Canada’s colonial history is a violent history that must be questioned, not ceremoniously replicated. The True Colours program has been deployed largely in support of the gentrification of inner city neighbourhoods, particularly those with a history of immigrant struggle where homes were painted colours that represented diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences of the city. 221A led a Research Initiative with 10 contributors who were asked to provide a swatch for an “Other Colours palette” that would offer alternatives to the True Colours program based on the contributors’ lived experience, cultural traditions and artistic practices. Each Other Colours palette selection is detailed by the contributor with an original text or artwork. This collection of short prose, poetry and social history, printed by Brick Press as an Artist’s Book, offers a more pluralistic account of the city’s built environment and identity.