The Hidden Meaning of Colour in Art
For so many years, interior designers, artists, even advertisers have been using colour to affect our moods and enhance our environments. They can send an indirect message and evoke a response from whoever view them in a colorful artwork.
The colours that surround you, or better said, the artwork that surrounds you, can influence the way you feel. Hence it is important to learn what message each colour sends (whether it be positive or negative, and what colours send us messages subliminally) to know which colorful artwork to pick. For example, looking at calming colorful artwork can help you de-stress; it is an instant emotional pick-me-up. According to recent studies, artwork can literally distract you from a bad mood. So let’s go over different colours used in art and what effects they have on our psyche.
Red is the colour of strength, romance, excitement, physical power and ambitiousness. It’s a colour that can make an excellent and striking background. The deeper the red is in a colorful artwork, the more it creates an atmosphere of opulence and power; it’s very in your face. The message this colour sends is a zest for life and an uncomplicated nature. It can also be a little dangerous and threatening that’s why fire engines and stop signs are red.
Orange is cheerful, flamboyant and a very lively colour. It oozes assertiveness, spontaneity and has an air of youth and fearlessness about it. Orange stimulates the brain and encourages oxygen and mental activity. There are a couple shades of orange that you should take note of, like darker orange shades can signify deceit or distrust and more red-orange shades can give off aggression, a thirst for some action and domination.
Yellow is a colour that most of us associate with light and sunshine. It gives us feelings of hope, happiness and sometimes wisdom. This colour brings out our optimism and gives us a sense of well being. It is definitely radiant in a colorful artwork but can also represent other things and is quite a complicated colour. Dull yellows can be associated with caution, decay, sickness and jealousy. It can be used as a warning symbol as well like the flags in sports or the yellow traffic light cautioning us.
Green is a colour that we associate with harmony, security, and balance. It has a calming effect on our psyche and can make us have feelings of modesty, gentleness, peace and hope. It can also soothe us and suggest endurance, stability, hope and growth. The darker green shades however, remind us of money and banks and don’t forget more yellow-greens remind us of jealousy and envy.
Blue is the colour of the world around us; the sea and sky that we see every day. So it should come as no surprise that we feel a sense of openness. It is a compassionate and caring and also a little introverted. It’s a colour we associate with wisdom and good characters, also with masculinity. Some blues can be associated with the feelings of melancholy, resignation and generally like the old term states ‘feeling blue’.
Purple is a combination of the colours red and blue and has a regal air around it. Paler shades of purple evoke feelings of serenity and restfulness whereas darker shades can make it harder for us to focus. Lavender shades are the shades we associate with creativity and the more refined things we find in life. They can be tiring on the eyes and maybe frustrate us; gloominess and sadness are also feelings that you can portray with purple.
Brown is also a colour that we see a lot of in the world around us in the wood and earth. They are easy on the eyes and are both warm and cool. They go well with many colours and give us feelings of nostalgia. When we see the colour brown we thing steady, reliable and dependable. They can also create a feeling of depression like we’ve seen in many paintings before.
White is a colour that we associate with safety and purity. It is a colour that makes us think of youth, innocence and everything perfect in the world. That’s why angels are mostly associated with the colour white. It is simple and fresh but too much of a good thing can make it feel like a hospital. Most artists steer away from the colour white, especially when painting as it can make certain paints feel lifeless.
Black oozes an air of mystery and can sometimes feel morbid. Black is the symbol for grief in most cultures but sometimes it can be portrayed as dignified and sophisticated. Black will always be necessary to show contrasting colours and depth to a painting or room.