I’ve spent most of my adolescent life defending the merit of brown. Which is a silly endeavor—not only is brown relatively cheerless, but it is a color with absolutely no volume. Even its most outrageous variations are merely offensive sighs; but a good brown is triumphant in its understatement. Though sometimes misused, brown is, simply, the hot colors extinguished. Take yellow, red, or orange, of any variation, douse it with its complementary color—or, if you’re strapped for pigment, black—and you’ve got brown. It’s an unassuming color, and, partly for that, I love it.
It started in high school, while thrift shopping with my friend, Jon. He offered me a brown shirt, and I don’t remember his exact words, or even if he said anything, but the general sentiment of his offer could be paraphrased as such: “Brown will never, ever, let you down.” It was safe, good, and, to somebody as chromatically tone-deaf as me, it was the only color I needed. Up until this moment, I had no handle on coordination, no eye for color. But after this moment, I began to see the color spectrum in terms of brown. It was a pivotal moment. Over the next half decade I collected brown everything: blazers, ties, shirts, bedspreads, glasses, shoes. And from these touch points I began exploring the other, “actual,” colors of the rainbow.
While safety was the primary motive for my low tone shopping spree, there is a reason brown is so commonplace. Even people who reject the color in the textile arena are surrounded by the color every day. It is in the wood, it is in the dirt, it is in our skin, it is in our hair, and it is the routinely the color of our shit. Which puts it way ahead of green and blue for most naturally abundant color on planet earth. And that has an effect on us. Brown is a powerful color—a gentle giant. It simultaneously cleanses the palette and fills us up. It ties us to our roots—in an industrial world, even brown plastic can seem primitive.
For me it is the first color, the helping hand out of black and white. It is muted and dark, but beneath the surface it is swarming with pigment. It is my color base, to which all other colors must form a relationship. Blues complement it, reds are derived from it, and greens live intimately with it. And though there are so, so many ways to mess up brown, you need only take a minute to look around to find it done right.
This website, then, is an exploration of brown at its best. I have no defense against the assertion that brown (singular) is boring, or even ugly. Brown is at its worst when left alone, and it fullfills all the negative stereotypes. But when brown starts mixing with brown, beautiful tones start to emerge. Thus, with Brown And Brown, I give you all a collection of beautiful and natural browns. Most photos are taken close up as to abstract them and put focus more on the collision of color. I mean to create an alternative to a brown color chooser: a brown feeling chooser.
I've also included a few facts and observations to help illustrate brown's place in society.