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The Road Less Traveled

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In October 2015 I was approached by three working analysts who asked if I would offer them further training in Sci\ART- 12 Tone colour theory.

By way of an introduction for these three newly certified TCI Sci\ART method analysts, this is their story.

What drew you to PCA to begin with?

MARGARETA – Having always been interested in colour and design I was not particularly familiar with colour analysis until a group of friends and I decided to try it out. A feeling that I needed some help to push myself towards trying out new colours, but not really knowing where to start, prompted the visit. I had also met a lady who always looked so effortlessly chic and naturally beautiful, and when asked about her secret she confided that having a personal colour analysis was her best investment in herself. It had helped her look her own very best but also made every day easier. She knew what suited her and everything now went seamlessly together, saving both time and angst.

The analysis was a fun and transformative experience. Our analyst was inspirational and really got us thinking in new ways, trying different colours and styles. Time passed and I decided to delve deeper in to this fascinating subject. Wanting to find out more about my colours and PCA in general, I started looking for somewhere to train. Not finding what I was searching for here in Sweden, I travelled to the USA in 2014 to do Sci\ART method colour analysis training with Terry Wildfong of YND. I was now learning about 12-tones rather than the previous so-popular 4-season system.

MONICA – I always had a sense that there were colors that harmonized with some people and not others. After shifting away from pursing a successful career as a wedding planner, I had a bit of an identity crisis. I actually said to my husband, “I don’t even know my style! I don’t even know what colors are best for me!” and in that instant I remembered that my mom had her “colors done” years ago. I immediately went to Google and that’s how I found Sci\ART. This was just after Kathryn’s death, and no one was training analysts at the time. I eventually trained with Terry Wildfong in 2013.

SHARON – I didn’t consider PCA as a career path until 2009, when I was doing a home improvement project and noticed the paint fan decks filled me with delight. I’d been working in hospitals for 15 years and desperately needed to change course. I don’t remember how I found Sci\ART, but I enjoyed a brief correspondence with Kathryn Kalisz (former Master Munsell Colourist and CEO of Sci\ART Global) where she spoke about the connection between personal color and health. Since I’d been to both art and nursing school, I was completely hooked. I knew I’d never rest until I had Sci\ART PCA training.

I trained with Christine Scaman of 12Blueprints in February of 2013, and with Terry Wildfong  of Your Natural Design in May of 2014.

Can you explain a little bit about why you decided to seek additional training?

MONICA –  In short, I realized I wasn’t seeing harmony. I believe most people are born with a natural understanding of and appreciation for color harmony, just as most people naturally appreciate musical harmony: it simply works.

I originally became a color analyst in search of harmony, however I started on a path that used Sci\ART terminology but sought and celebrated other things—intensity of eyes, definition of bone structure, the appearance of a slimmer or younger face, removal of redness, and cultural interpretations of beauty that pushed people to a point far more intense than their natural beauty could accommodate. There was heavy reliance on makeup to make the picture work, and an obsession with finding the exact perfect shade of lipstick since so many of them were far too much for the client. “Unusual” coloring became highly usual – “light” darks, “soft” brights, cool-toned people with warm “overtones,” blonde and redheaded winters… So many people walked away surprised by their assigned color space. And these were not just my clients – many more were the clients of my colleagues, practicing with the same philosophy and methodology.

SHARON – Even though I’d trained with both Terry and Christine, I found my confidence waning instead of increasing as I draped more and more people. I knew this was abnormal because all of my prior endeavors (surgery nursing, art work, teaching) became easier as I gained experience.

I noticed my client roster was heavily weighted in Winter tones. I doubted the accuracy of so many Winter calls. I trusted that further training would help me understand where I’d gone astray and help me better understand Sci\ART. When I saw my TCI drapes and their breathtaking harmonies, I knew I’d made the right decision.

MARGARETA – Being one who always feels the need to study further, I wanted to learn more about the Sci\ART (12-Tone) system of personal colour analysis.  Somewhere along the way I thought that what I saw out there was slightly lacking in colour theory, or interest therein. In Kathryn Kalisz’ words “The purpose of a personal color analysis is to identify a person’s natural color tone in order that all other aspects of life can be brought into harmony with one’s individual field of energy.” Having really tried and also studied more and more about colour and harmony I realised certain things were amiss, both in my tools and what was practiced. If I was to continue with Personal Colour Analysis I had to go back to my reason for it, to help the client uncover their natural beauty.

When an opportunity arose to train with Amelia (one of only five people in the world mentored and certified by Kathryn as a Sci\ART trainer) of True Colour International I could not wait to get started. I had used the TCI colour fans and posters during my own practice and was familiar with Amelia’s knowledgeable articles about colour and the human being. This was an amazing and unique chance to really learn what Sci\ART truly is about.

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How would you describe your understanding of natural colour harmony at this stage in your PCA career?

SHARON – A food analogy is helpful here: when we habitually eat MSG-laden foods we severely limit our capacity to appreciate subtle flavors. We’re culturally conditioned to find visually discordant images attractive, and this adds a huge level of unconscious stress to our lives.

We love to find what we’re looking for, and if we can’t find it, we try to manufacture it. I feel that’s what I was doing when I wrongfully put so many clients into Winter. I tried to create “excitement” through over-sharpening. Color harmony is what it is; it follows laws as sure as the law of gravity. Sci\ART PCA is not a matter of finding which colors “change you for the better” but of finding genuine congruency between you and one of the 12 Tones.

MONICA – It wasn’t that Amelia’s training was so earth shattering, but rather that she patiently showed me how to see again. I learned that I truly appreciate human coloring in all forms. Soft and subtle, light and delicate, deep and smoldering, bright and intense, warm, cool… all of it is to be celebrated.

I crave the simplicity that accurate personal color analysis brings. As a creative person, I need boundaries – freedom in limitation. Having a simple working wardrobe of pieces I enjoy that harmonize with my own natural coloring and energy (for what is color but light? and what is light but waves?) is a real gift to myself as a business owner, a mother, and human. I love enabling others to give that gift to themselves.

MARGARETA – The clients are now able to see their natural and unique beauty.  Nothing added, nothing taken away.  The physical sense of relief they experience at this moment is breath taking and a powerful realization that this is just the beginning of a new and exciting journey of self-discovery.

What do you think has changed in your approach to PCA?

MONICA – The process of personal color analysis is actually quite simple. Not easy, but simple. A streamlined approach in pursuit of one goal (harmony) has enabled me to work more quickly and lower my price point, making PCA accessible to more people.

I’m not after beautiful photographs. Photos don’t need to be harmonious to be gorgeous images – art, if you will. And frankly, anyone can put together a “look” that doesn’t harmonize with their natural coloring and still look lovely – truly. I’m looking for beauty that, as Sci\ART founder Kathryn Kalisz said, “presents itself as one unified whole;” in a word, ‘harmony.’ And it wasn’t until I completed my certification with TCI that I was truly able to regularly find it.

SHARON – My fundamental approach hasn’t changed; I’ve always been very keen to get it right for my clients. I know how it feels to be put in the wrong season, so I hate to think of people getting rid of favorite things or spending money on wrong items due to a faulty analysis. If we cannot give clients accurate results, we’re really good-for-nothing analysts.

I feel differently about makeup now. I see it as the icing on the cake rather than a means to bring the client “into alignment” with their season. I no longer believe it’s normal to take 3 (or 4 or 5) hours to find someone’s color tone.

And I’ve lost enthusiasm for *color memes* such as “Natural red hair belongs in Winter and Spring. It is very rare in Autumn colouring” and “Icy blue eyes mean Winter; pastel blue eyes mean Summer.”

MARGARETA – After a few months of reevaluating everything I thought I knew about the 12-tone method followed by some soul searching and lots of hard work with patient guidance from Amelia, I achieved my TCI 12-tone certification and accreditation. This is a dream come true, and I truly believe there is no better way of finding your own colour space than with a correctly conducted Sci\ART method PCA with accurate drapes.

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I know you have all been through some personal changes with your colour tone over the years, tell us how it feels to finally have confirmation of your tone?  How does this affect your ability as an analyst?

MARGARETA – Being put in a season you are not, but believing it is what you are, is of course confusing and will also affect how you see other people – at least how you see people in the season you think you are.

I realized I was not wearing my season properly, True Winter draped at my first training, making adjustments and subconsciously softening it up. I did, however, not doubt my season initially, why would I? It was during my TCI training that it all clicked and I was finally put (back) into my correct season, Soft Summer. My apparent darkness had been mistaken for Winter when what I really needed was softness. Being in the season that is me has been a huge relief and will of course make my judgements clearer when draping.

MONICA I was analyzed Soft Summer  in 2011. I loved the colors and truly enjoyed wearing them for awhile, but I struggled with the makeup and lighter colors especially. I started feeling old when I looked in the mirror. I wondered about Dark Autumn. It was no easy task to travel back to see my analyst for a redrape, so I waited for my training but I walked away from training very confused and disheartened as a newly-proclaimed Dark Winter, but my trainer was very kind through it all. I never liked Dark Winter on me, but as an analyst I tried to calibrate my understanding of color harmony to fit the colors I saw next to my face in the mirror everyday.

Though my personal experience with PCA certainly affected my ability to see harmony, I can’t say that it definitely affected my results because harmony was never really the objective. But then came my questions about the drapes I used, the process, the philosophy, etc. And the moment I saw my new TCI drapes, I knew I was indeed Dark Autumn. And I honestly don’t care anymore about all the money and time I spent on Soft Summer and Dark Winter things because I am SO happy to be in a place of color harmony. It feels fantastic.

SHARON I was never called anything but a Winter, so I don’t feel I’ve had much to overcome, compared to others who’ve been more radically misplaced. Even so, the difference between Bright Winter and Dark Winter is significant. My color discomfort lifted when I learned I’m actually Dark Autumn . Since we like to advertise how authenticity and believability are benefits of PCA, it’s crucial that we look the part.

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Amelia, what it was like for you to train us during this intense period?

PCA is essentially about building the neural pathways which will allow you to recognise natural colour harmony (as opposed to disharmony) in an instant.  That’s not to say that we can’t or don’t recognize it in everyday life (we do, of course), however the confines, pressure and intensity of the PCA environment put extra pressure on us.  The eye and the central perceptual processes are easily fatigued when surrounded by disharmony, and during a colour analysis session we are, by definition, exposed to a lot of it as we winnow the bad in search of the good: it’s literally in your face!   This overload of negative and stressful visual information is genuinely tiring and can make it difficult to sort out the positive effects from the negative without getting lost or unnecessarily bogged down in the process itself. My aim as a trainer is to give students the skills to do this with efficiency and assurance, by equipping them with accurate tools and effective test sequences which get them to the correct answer while minimizing distractions, unnecessary redundancy, and visual exhaustion.

The interesting thing about training students is that everybody comes with different levels of ability in respect of harmonious pattern recognition.  Some may have started with natural innate affinity for the task, while others have developed the neural pathways involved in the course of their previous work or life experiences.  Others find it comes less easily.  It is important to stress that this pre-existing skill level doesn’t of itself predispose anyone to being better or worse at PCA: everyone “gets it” in the end as long as there’s no physiological problem with their colour perception, and some just need more time to arrive there.  What can make it more difficult for me as a trainer and for the students themselves is when students arrive with pre-conceived expectations of colour and neural processing pathways that have been “built”, whether by popular culture or training, to be drawn to and excited by some stimulus or priority other than harmony.  There is then a process of “unlearning” and dismantling pre-conceptions before we can re-build and move forward – or as Sharon says, when your palate is used to artificial stimuli it can take time to reclaim the ability to appreciate natural flavours again.

They say that courage is not the absence of fear but feeling the fear and doing it anyway and the thing that I admire most is perseverance in the face of adversity.   It is not easy to have faith and confidence in yourself when the past has proved to be unexpectedly challenging and yet persevere we did and the outcome is most pleasing.  Kathryn Kalisz would be very proud I am sure.



7 replies to “The Road Less Traveled”

  1. Very enjoyable and insightful read! As one of Sharon’s clients, I’ve enjoyed hearing some of her journey at our first PCA session and again at the re-drape, but really liked reading more of her experience here. As one who was placed in the wrong season initially, I can definitely agree that it is with much relief that I found my right color home. I feel that I have a much better understanding of color harmony due to my own experience. As Sharon said during the re-drape, it shouldn’t take a lot of makeup for the colors to look good.

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