The sunshine is way too loud, someone once said to me.
Bright-yellow days may be more popular, but for me they are distracting, sometimes exhausting, and almost literally blinding—especially on a day when I want to engage in some quiet concentration (which is almost every day). For one, my eyes are sensitive to light, exhibiting a mild form of a condition known as photophobia. Two, I am easily overwhelmed by all kinds of sensory input—noise, music, fragrance, pinching zippers, unwanted flavors, excessively bright lights. In the absence of all this noise, visual and otherwise, I find myself more able to relax and much more able to focus, both on work and on play. Plus, when it’s overcast—or outright raining—it’s simply less of a travesty to stay home all day and bake things, make origami, and watch The Newsroom.
The brain’s perception of color is subjective and often surprising. Hence all those neat optical illusions, and hence the way everything looks bright blue right after you remove those yellow-tinted ski goggles. The functional vision impairment at play is known as the contrast effect or simultaneous contrast, and it’s caused by the way exposure to a color temporarily desensitizes us to that color, but boosts our sensitivity to opposite hues and values. It’s why many artists, graphic designers, and photo retouchers choose to work in desaturated environments—and why they’re likely to do their best work on desaturated days.