COLOR YOUR LIFE – Guest Blogger Catherine Bailey

Congrats to Mary Mortimer, winner of Thursday’s COLOR YOUR LIFE kit! Mary, you will receive an email from us shortly. Thank you everyone for your comments, we are sending $100 to Edible Schoolyard Project!

Welcome to COLOR YOUR LIFE – Guest Blogger week! We have invited 5 vibrant contributors to the YOLO Colorhouse blog to write about how color inspires the creative work they do and beautifies the world we live in. Today’s guest blogger: Catherine Bailey from Heath Ceramics.

Comment on Catherine’s blog for your chance to win a COLOR YOUR LIFE Kit – 1 gal of YOLO Colorhouse paint, set of YOLO Colorhouse fan decks, and a 100% organic cotton canvas YOLO tote. Your comment also counts as a $1 donation to Catherine’s non-profit of choice, Edible Schoolyard Project – a Berkeley, CA organization that teaches students how their choices about food affect their health, the environment and their communities.

- – - – - -

Catherine Bailey - photo credit Leslie Williamson

Catherine Bailey is the co-owner/creative director of Heath Ceramics based in Sausalito, CA. Heath Ceramics is one of the few remaining mid-century American potteries still in existence today. In 2003, Catherine, with her husband Robin Petravic, purchased Heath Ceramics with a mission to revitalize the company through a strong focus on design and handcrafted techniques for their tile and tableware lines, while staying true to the history and values of Heath Ceramics.

The Intuition of Color

Color has always been an influence in my life. I remember being in kindergarten or first grade and wanting to draw an image that was in my head. It was a bowl with apples inside, and I can still see that image clearly today. I tried to draw it with a dark marker or crayon and I remember feeling frustrated that the dark lines I drew were nothing like what I was imagining. Yes, I had drawn some shapes that represented the forms of a bowl and some apples, and I colored them in with what I thought would be the right color, but the image was disappointing to me.

Years later, I tried representing images with paint and became amazed by color, though I was not always satisfied that the image in my head was appearing on the canvas. I started to understand what color meant and what it could do. When you have a palette of paints that you can mix into any possible color, it’s all at once overwhelming and fascinating. You start to realize that the image you have in your head can come out though your hand, not as line, but as color, and that color can create emotions and feelings far beyond forms. It’s a sense that color can capture anything and everything.

Photo Credit: Jeffery Cross


As a designer, my work with color has ranged from helping Nike develop their seasonal palettes to providing color concept and specifications for companies like Microsoft, Palm and Burton. Though the work was interesting, I found it challenging to stay inspired in a context where color was seen as a forecast trend or data point, versus an intuitive sense of what felt right.

As Creative Director at Heath Ceramics, I’m now able to interact much more purely with color. Color inspires me to do something unexpected, to take notice of the moment, the feel of this time and what surrounds me, be it a beautiful textile, the color of new car or the changes in the sea.

At Heath, our focus on color is obsessive, yet intuitive. For our summer seasonal collection, for example, we started our exploration of color by creating two hues: a vibrant blue and orange. After a few formulations and seeing the colors interact, we realized that it wasn’t right. It’s hard to describe why, though something about the combination was too strong, and it felt like it relied too heavily on the past. In the end, what felt right was to find glaze colors that would seamlessly interact with and complement the saturated orange color. We obsessed with getting the “feel” of the glazes right, so that there was a softness and a natural balance to the palette. You can see in the image below (YOLO fans have a sneak peek!) how it turned out.

Photo Credit: Jeffery Cross


Though I couldn’t have understood it then, I realized that the drawing I did when I was six taught me a lot about my view on color. Today, color inspires me to capture the moment and create a beautiful, balanced impression. For the summer seasonal collection and all the work we do at Heath, color is an intuitive feeling. We feel it and do what we love.

Let me know how color inspires your daily life in the comments below — each comment counts as a $1 donation to my non-profit of choice (up to $100), Edible Schoolyard Project- a Berkeley, CA organization that teaches students how their choices about food affect their health, the environment and their communities, and enters you to win a COLOR YOUR LIFE kit!

- Catherine Bailey

For more inspiring images from Catherine Bailey, visit our COLOR YOUR LIFE Pinterest board!

COLOR YOUR LIFE Kit: 1 gal of YOLO Colorhouse paint, set of YOLO Colorhouse fan decks, and a 100% organic cotton canvas YOLO tote

This entry was posted in Art, Color, Garden, Green Living, Home Decor and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to COLOR YOUR LIFE – Guest Blogger Catherine Bailey

  1. April says:

    Oh my goodness those are beautiful ceramic pieces! I must say that color hasn’t been a big influence on our dining wear, we stick to plain white so that the food we make can “pop” against it’s starkness.

  2. jamie says:

    That bowl image is beautiful. I recognize the bowl (obviously) and the Jonathan’s Spoons tongs (I own the black-flamed ones – my favorite!), but whose textile is that?

  3. Donna B! says:

    Color inspires me as it is a daily reflection of my mood. I like to choose what I wear based on how I feel that morning. It adds a depth to my day.

  4. Maxwell Long Design says:

    I remember too when I was in elementary school being captivated by the color of small things such as a pastel peach pen my dad brought home for me from work one day, the brilliant colors of foil stickers, and the shiny satin of my braided ribbon hair barrettes. Color brought such pleasure to me in those days. Still does. Guess it was inevitable that I would become a decorator and artist.The peach glaze of the vases reminded me of that very special peach pen my dad gave me. Love the warmth and lightness of it.

  5. Rayna K. says:

    I’ve found my taste in colors are ever evolving. I currently love the tones inspired by mid-century modern homes and furnishings. I have the most fun playing with colorful backgrounds for pics of my kids. Sometimes I love just a simple bold solid.

  6. Mary Mortimer says:

    Color can bring calm or excitement as needed into every day – whether it is what I choose to wear or how I assemble fresh picked garden vegetables in a vintage ceramic bowl. I have an eclectic assortment of ceramic ware – including a few treasured Heath pieces! I choose carefully what I will drink my coffee from and place a morning pastry on. Color has a starring role in these decisions.

  7. sioux says:

    i am a total sucker for gorgeous, handpainted plates, bowls, mugs, etc. i especially love mediterranean stuff – very different than these, but these are very pretty, too!

  8. Mary Frances Poh says:

    I have been using Healthware since 1965. I love the new colors and how they work with Sea and Sand and the Tourquoise from that time. I use it everyday. Color so brightens up our world and Heath colors are so organic. I am amazed at how they blend together. I think Edith would be proud of what you have done.

  9. Pingback: Yolo color house blog post « Heath Ceramics

  10. Maria Malbas says:

    Color is one of the easiest ways to create a transformation, to inform a setting or inspire a mood. The palette that Heath and Yolo carry offer a source of color inspiration that always reminds me how important it is to stay connected to organic sources of creativity and design. With beautiful colors and simple shapes, you really don’t need much more than that!

  11. Tina says:

    We just completed a kitchen remodel and used Heath tiles for our backsplash and Yolo for the walls! They blended perfectly but we did go with very neutral colors. Inspired to paint the living in something brighter and cheerful now, though!

  12. Bob Wallace says:

    One Dollar

  13. Daniel says:

    Give the schoolyard a dollar.

  14. amisha says:

    this is a beautiful and inspiring post- thank you! i relate to that desire to translate the colors i see in my head into the work in front of me, and the challenge of that process. i really enjoyed this little peek into heath’s creative process.

  15. Jen says:

    Beautiful Cathy!

  16. Christina says:

    I really appreciate Catherine’s comments about color being intuitive and more of a living process rather than something to use as a forecast or a trend. Thank you.

  17. Artur says:

    The ceramic pieces are great, but the photos are superb. They are worthy in them selves.

  18. Lisa says:

    Thank you for sharing a sneak peek of your lovely ceramics with the YOLO community…color unites!

  19. TG says:

    I had a color epiphany in kindergarten too – I painted an orange flower with a yellow center, and I was hooked! I still paint, and try to be as free with color as I can be. Loved your post – you are doing beautiful work for Heath!

  20. Erin says:

    Through color, I reminisce about a memory, or a place I’ve once been. A lot of people say smells bring about nostalgia, but the colors and hues characteristic of an object present at a particular time and place always strike a chord with me.

  21. Scott says:

    Thanks Catherine

  22. Terry Glenn Phipps says:

    This color palette is very inspiring. Viva Heath!

  23. Sarah says:

    Lovely post, Cathy. Thank you.

  24. Tricia says:

    So Beautiful!

  25. Natalie Chanin says:

    Inspired by Cathy, Heath, and Yolo…

  26. Ann says:

    Great job with the vases! Orange is so beautiful but very tough; it is one of the most difficult to work with in an interior.

  27. daphne says:

    beautiful ceramics and beautiful colours!

  28. robin says:

    inspiring colors and photos…..thx for the post!

  29. Stephanie says:

    Color is one of the elements that can catch my attention. It’s when I’ve given something my attention that I have a chance to make a connection, have a moment, see the magic in something. Color can open doors for me.

    Beautiful work at Heath.

  30. Hether says:

    Cathy, you articulated this so well. I have always had a hard time describing why something esthetic, color, just ‘feels’ right, and struggle to substantiate that in a commercial setting.

  31. kati says:

    the summer line looks beautiful – eager to see more! For me color influences how comfortable I am – the wrong colors can even affect my mood. Just the right hues and splashes of accent transform a house into a home, a table into a family center-piece, and clothes into an extension of personality. Heath has been a part of transforming my husband’s and my house into a home and I look forward to it continuing to do so in the future.

  32. Gerardo Martinez says:

    Make my color green… like a greenback, for a worthy project and an inspiring read.

  33. Tracy Reid says:

    Cathy! These pieces are gorgeous…the color is so perfect – bright with cheer and yet soft and comfortable, not so obvious…i love love love…I just registered and am not having to rethink things! Thank you for creating such beautiful things and making it a better world to live in!

  34. Chris says:

    Heath + Yolo, what a great combo!

  35. lynn says:

    your obsession with color is obviously paying off! Gorgeous!!! thanks for the sneak peak. LOVE the palette!

  36. victoria Robinson says:

    As a designer, color is my life. Color can impact so much from how we perceive a space, to how we perceive ourselves. I love surrounding myself with teals, oranges, pinks, reds, and greens. I think of my home as my little jewel box, and it makes me happy every single day!

  37. Pingback: THE FRIDAY LIST, WITH PANCAKES » The Year In Food

  38. sally says:

    Just found this site…it’s wonderful,thank you. I’m a designer and colour is so important to me – to my mood, to my day. Sometimes it feels sad to spend so much time in grey England, other times, walking on heath or marshland I’m amazed by the sheer subtlety of nature and how light can change all in seconds – wonderful.
    Love your ceramics x

  39. lauren says:

    Color is magic! Light transforming before our eyes, shifting all daylong into new permutations. I work at a store where we organize everything by “rainbow color”. I never get bored with this activity and am constantly amazed at how it can still feel like a puzzle trying to determine if a certain color goes into the purple section or is it green, no maybe more brown?…Our customers are always delighted and inspired by this organization and feel like they are able to “see things more clearly”. I truly love every color and am filled with joy when I see a random grouping of color that would never make any kind of design-sense. It’s poetry!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>