A FREE magazine for artists by artists just like you!
May 25, 2012
The Amazing World of Color
Our lives our touched by color; whether we notice it or not. It’s everywhere and in everything. Color has the potential to impact emotion, mood, and feelings both positively and negatively. It can sell a product, and affect our choices. In today’s world, green has become a signature color for ecology and earth safe products. Yellow often is a sign of happiness; take for example, the plain round smiley face. Red serves to excite and draw attention, which is probably why a little red sports car will get noticed in a sea of other vehicles. Blue and green occupy more space in the color spectrum than most other colors, all one needs to do is look at our planet.
Have you ever thought about how color affects our everyday lives? For example, how does waking up to a clear blue sky make you feel? It could be the reason you feel a sense of energy, ready to take on the day. Yet, it also conjures up a sense of “feeling blue”. The first bright yellow dandelions in spring, whether left to grow or eventually dug out, remind us of the sun and warmer days ahead. Still, yellow is the most fatiguing color due to its high content of reflected light.
“Red is the color of magic in every country and has been so from the earliest times.”…Wm. Butler Yeats. Chinese brides wore red. Red is the basic color in the Chinese New Year, many paint their doors red. It’s a symbol of joy, prosperity and good luck. It was one of the first colors to receive a name.
Red is energy and has the longest wavelength on the visible electromagnetic spectrum. It can stimulate adrenal glands and increase energy. Have you ever noticed how often restaurants incorporate the color red?
It not only stimulates appetite but conversation as well. Red roses represent love and red poppies memorialize those who shed their blood and died in Europe during WWII. It is also the color of courage.
There are dozens of shades and tints of red from rose to deep burgundy, and just about all of them can be found in flowers. I’ve even noticed that a red tulip will have a different fragrance than a yellow one.
There is a cologne that is identified simply as “Red.” The Coke label chose red as their signature color early on.
Red is the choice of extroverts and most often the color chosen by men. Since red is a warm color it also suggests temper as in “seeing red”, or sizzling as in “red hot”. Fun as in “paint the town red”. Other descriptive words with red that we hear are redneck, red handed, red white and blue, and red eye.
“….Ye cannot rival for one hour October’s bright blue weather.”.....Helen Hunt Jackson. Blue promotes sleep as it’s suggested that it triggers the production of melatonin. Blue also stimulates the thyroid gland to release thyroxin, a hormone that regulates a person’s metabolic rate. Who hasn’t felt a certain restfulness come over them while sitting near a pond of blue water or on an ocean beach?
I love blue hydrangeas, and now that I think of it, they do seem to have a calming effect. Larkspur, for-get-me-not, bachelor’s buttons, cornflower and delphinium come to mind in beautiful shades of a blue garden. Blue, also in the language of colors, represents serenity and peace. Blue iris mean “your friendship is important”.
Blue represents heaven and often is symbolic of the Virgin Mary. Blue is most often the color choice of conservative people. Its color is cool, serene and peaceful as well as spiritual. Dark blue is the color of truth and moderation. Yet blue can also suggest sadness as in “feeling blue” or “blue Monday”.
Its color is also used in language terms such as blue blood, blue Monday, blue ribbon, bluebeard, true blue, “blue bird of happiness” and others. Artists most often use blue to give a feeling of distance and perspective. And how many songs have you heard where “blue” is included in the lyrics?
“How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.”…Vincent Van Gogh. “What a horrible thing yellow is”….Edgar Degas. How different the opinions are of these two great artists. In ancient times, the sunflower represented the sun to the Inca nation and was revered in pre-Columbian times. It represented corn to the Mayans. During the Ming Dynasty, yellow represented the earth and center.
Yellow enhances alertness and the color waves stimulate the brain to aid in alertness and decision-making. Often yellow reminds people of the sun, and because of this it also promotes optimism. How do you feel when you see the rays of the sun streaming from clouds after a rainstorm?
A bouquet of yellow daffodils in spring can brighten a room and in the language of flowers they represent unrequited love. In fall a vase of sunflowers can bring the sunshine indoors. How strange it is that writing on yellow tablets can increase memory retention, yet, this color is most fatiguing to the eye and used as the background for reading material can actually cause harm. Yellow signifies light heartedness, friendship, honesty, wholesomeness, and wisdom. It’s the color most often preferred by people with high intellect.
On the opposite end it suggests cowardice as in “yellow streak” or “yellow bellied”. Other uses in our language are yellow journalism, yellow dog, yellow flag, lemon yellow, yellow brick road and mellow yellow. Yellow signifies caution on a stop light and is the logo for the company, Yellow Freight. It’s the color of school buses and many taxis because of its clear visibility. You can see construction workers wearing reflective yellow or variations of this color.
“Land is also time. The greening of time is a clock whose hands are the blades of grass moving vertically…”….Gretel Ehrlick. Throughout history, green has represented life and rebirth because it’s associated with spring and new beginnings. For those of us who live in a seasonal climate, we are familiar with the excitement of the first green sprout in spring after a long, cold winter. Green in a kitchen can relate to gardens, such as vegetable and herb.
Darker greens can promote study. Green relaxes the heart and affects the nervous system, helping people to breathe slower and deeper. It also slows the production of stress hormones. Though flowers are fewer in green, there are the green bells of Ireland, hydrangeas, and the shamrock that come to mind. Green is the emblematic color of Ireland. It was the royal color of the Aztecs and was found in the plumes of its chiefs.
In Japan, green is the color of life. Green is also the symbol of good fortune and health, resilience and youth. Egyptians wore green eyeliner because they felt it was healing for the eye. Jade green is the sacred stone of Asia. Bright green is the color of Mother Nature. It brings to mind growth, harmony and earth. It also represents learning, and is the color of money. Green is the color choice of well-balanced people. It was George Washington’s favorite color.
The language of green can be found in such descriptive words as greenbacks, green thumb, turn green, greener pastures, green energy, greenhouse, greenhorn, and “green eyed monster”. It’s also the color in a stop light that gives us the “go” and where the term “given the green light” comes from.
As artists our world is color. Sometimes our choice may reflect a favorite or because they are realistic to the subject being painted. Color is a way to express and to share our feelings. Focus and perspective is a result of how color is applied. We choose the time of day or the season and bring that out with color. Have you ever thought about why you choose the colors you do whether you paint or not?
I love to paint with bright vibrant colors. I love extreme contrasts more than those that seem washed out or vague, though I paint both. Autumn offers the opportunity to use warm, high impact orange, yellow and red colors. Winter is wonderful for contrasts, the dark bare wood of silhouetted trees against blue white snow or emerald green pines in a snow covered meadow. The color of a cardinal almost shouts against a white background. Spring and summer give the opportunities use just about every shade or tint of green possible from light yellow green to deep black green.
The color of flowers awaken against the backdrop of green, a pathway is a welcome site and blue waters make us want to sit and reflect. Without color our senses would be deprived, there would be no change, perception would fade and concentration would deteriorate.
How blessed we are to have such a wonderful world filled with the gifts of color!