When an email arrives from any woman who has decided to redirect the flow of her life, ignoring all the doubts from inside and outside, moving into an unknown with nothing but love for the subject, I know I will meet a friend for all my life. Sometimes, maybe always, finding yourself in a place where life has given you no other choice is the best starting point there is. Whether as a colour analysis client or training to become an analyst, it’s at this moment that we are most free of our past.
When you visit Johanna, you will find a woman of grace, humility, cleverness balanced with great sensitivity, and deep sincerity in her desire to help you find the answers that she has found, hopefully on a shorter, less winding path. Meeting Johanna without meeting her dog, Estella, is a tad incomplete. I love these training photos. We know who’s zooming who, I believe.
I’m delighted to tell you that by the end of this year, if not much sooner, there will be a trained colour analyst with excellent drapes practicing in Denmark (you met Anette Henrisken already), Finland (with Johanna today), Norway (whom you’ll meet very soon), and Sweden.
I’ve always loved colour. Well, who doesn’t, most people react to colour instinctively and largely unconsciously, and the effects of colour can be staggering – colour can not only evoke various emotions (happiness, disgust, anger, calmness, you name it) but also cause actual physical reactions. They can make you feel hot, cold, sleepy, hungry, thirsty, or may even help to alleviate pain in some cases. Powerful stuff! Our experience of colour is a very personal thing. This is my story.
I was a toddler in the early 1970s, when the fashion was all about autumnal colours – browns, mustard yellows, orange-reds. They didn’t happen to be MY colours (they say children are highly intuitive about colour, unfortunately we lose a lot of that as we grow up and try to adapt to others’ expectations) and so I can still remember how I hated putting those clothes on. And then there was nursery school, where girls were given red everything and boys’ stuff was always blue. Add to that my mother’s favourite colour, navy blue, which she dressed me in as often as she could (actually, I didn’t mind this so much, at least it got me out of the mustard tones), and I was starting to feel like a crazy cocktail, losing some of my natural feel for colour. Teenage years (the Eighties) with assorted peer pressure, fashion influence and the early stages of PCA didn’t help – honestly, colour wise I didn’t know who I was any longer. It’s been a long way back, but finally, I’m happy to say that I’m on the right track and feeling good!
The history of PCA in Finland goes something like this: The publication of Carol Jackson’s book (in Finnish translation) in the late 80s created a lot of buzz, making PCA interesting simply because it was new. After that, there seems to have been a lull, as many people got tired of the “fad” and also because the system just didn’t seem to work perfectly for so many people. For some reason, PCA didn’t seem to have come to Finland to stay – people looked upon it as something external to them, something to take or leave as they pleased, rather than a real and permanent description of their own natural colouring. My hope is that Finns will learn to think of PCA in a different light, with the entertainment value somewhat lessened and the actual value of the applicable results emphasised. In other words, I hope they can learn to take PCA seriously. Of course, to be taken seriously, a PCA needs to be thorough and reliable. Perhaps this was partly the reason why it never fully “took” before.
In my case, there was no lack of interest in the subject, but despite having been colour analysed several times in the past and having read tons of books about colour, having thought about colour all the time, having even considered training as a colour analyst twenty years ago (but I was young and it felt wiser to focus on my “real” education instead), I only found my correct Season in Canada, at age 43, while being trained to do PCA. And I went in so sure my Season would just be confirmed during my draping session! The thing is, I felt blah in the colours I thought were mine, but I just thought I was being too critical or hard to please or….too something. I thought it was the best I could look, that my appearance was just naturally boring. I’m afraid there may be other women out there thinking the same about themselves, essentially blaming themselves if they don’t look radiant. Ladies, it’s not your fault! Get better advice! So, I turned out to be a Season I’d never even considered. Now things are finally making sense, now I can look back to favourite shirts that did something for me and connect the dots, while at the time I thought it was just a fluke. Now I can’t believe this wasn’t obvious to me – but it’s not that easy to analyse your own colouring.
I used to work as a teacher, and there are things I’m taking from that, as well as things I’d like to avoid, now that I’m “doing colour”. I’ll start with the things to avoid: I don’t want to be the analyst who dictates to the client too much. I don’t feel it’s my job to force someone to wear a certain colour (tone) or to deny them a colour (tone) they like. I’ll tell you what I think and offer you any information I can, but you decide for yourself. I also hope to favour creative thinking over too many rigid fashion practices. Now, what I would like to keep and amplify is the great feeling you get when you see the results of your efforts (at the end of an analysis & when you see the client later on, wearing what makes them look fantastic), in other words, the bit where you get to help people, to inspire them, to give them faith that they CAN get this, and then to see them succeed when they apply themselves. This may sound a bit grand for a colour analyst, but it’s that important to me.
Believe it or not, in the past I’ve had to go so far as to throw out some books on colour and style (and how I miss them!) because I kept spending too much time rereading them and making up theoretical colour schemes etc., and the only way I felt I was going to be able to stay away from them and do whatever I was meant to be doing was to throw them away. But my love for colour wouldn’t go away, and one day as I was googling about colour, I hit upon this treasure trove of information, the 12 Blueprints website. It was something I’d never seen before – pages and pages of free information about colour, and not the usual superficial stuff that’s good for entertainment only, but well thought-out and detailed posts, where colour had been analysed, almost dissected, with a very critical eye. I thought I was going to die…but fortunately didn’t, because some time after this Christine announced that she would soon start teaching PCA. One day it just hit me – OK so I live in Finland and Canada’s a long way away, but why couldn’t I do it! Of course, friends and family thought I’d lost my mind, but it would have taken an army to stop me at this point – and now I’m glad I waited so long to be trained, because I wouldn’t have found this dedication to colour or to students anywhere else!
I’ve been doing PCA a couple of months now under my company name Flow with Nature. My studio is located in Espoo, about 20 km from the centre of Helsinki. The building belongs to Omnia, a provider of education, which also specialises in nurturing creative start-up businesses. My neighbouring business is a co-op specialising in women’s clothing. They would be happy to design and sew an outfit for you in one of your best colours! You can reach me by public transportation (train to Espoo + a 1 km bus ride, or I can pick you up from the station) or by car (free parking out front). I’m available for appointments throughout the week. If you have any special requests, just let me know and we’ll see what we can come up with.
To perform your PCA, I use the famous 12 Blueprints Test Drape Set. At this time, I haven’t got the Luxury Drapes but we can still get a clear idea of your individual best colours (within your season) from the test drapes, and we will spend more time comparing different seasons’ colours (e.g. what’s YOUR white out of all the whites out there) and harmonising any makeup or garments that you choose to bring along.
A simplified makeup application is included in your PCA session, just to show you the illumination your face can receive from your best blush and lipstick shades. My eye makeup availability varies from season to season at this time. I encourage you to take your makeup bag with you to the appointment, so that we can check which products you should continue to use with full confidence, and which ones you might want to replace.
A True Colour International 12 Tone Classic colour book is included in the PCA. You will also receive several written documents from me the night after your analysis, including a recap of where your season stands in terms of the three dimensions of colour, how to recognise your colours and how to handle shopping for your season, how to best apply and combine your colours in clothing, advice on makeup colours, and a list of resources I find useful.
Looking ahead, I’m hoping to expand my services to cover guided shopping and wardrobe advice. Your perfect tones don’t exist in a vacuum but must be applied to clothing and accessories (for many women, also makeup and hair colour) before they can do their job of making you look good, and this can be a challenge at first. My trial runs show that these services are valuable to the client, so I’m planning to include them soon. I’m also dreaming of the day when I can offer style advice, as style and colour are the major elements in any look.
My website is in its early stages, which means that so far I haven’t been able to include minute details, or information in English. You (the Finnish reader) can find an overview of PCA, a brief introduction of me and my company and some suggestions about what PCA can do for you. In the interest of space and overall readability, I haven’t put a detailed account of what happens at an appointment on show (much too long), but am more than happy to email it to anyone interested in my service, no strings attached! You’ll find a contact page for this purpose on the website. International clients (communication preferably in English) are also warmly welcome, and I will translate material as required!
The site can be found at www.flowwithnature.com and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Flow with Nature is also on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Flow-with-Nature/141298139407107, and I welcome ideas about how I might develop the Facebook page to serve anyone interested in PCA. So far, also my Facebook page is in Finnish only, but please feel free to ask questions or start a discussion in English, too!