Colors can have significant emotional effects. In this article you’ll learn what these effects are (and how you can use them when you are coloring!).
First: an example
In the art above, the crow in the picture naturally instills a feeling of warning, imminent conflict, and something ominously approaching the crow’s world.
The blackness of the crow in the artwork creates an emotional response of something hidden, secretive, and unknown, adding an air of mysteriousness.
Color is a gateway to the heart, mind, and soul, making a black and white world seem much too cold and emotionless to live in, in comparison.
The aura of yellow that surrounds the bird creates a deep seeded feeling of impatience, agitation, and fear.
The red hues of the background bring all of those inherently strong, dark emotions to a crescendo, with the color reds’ vibrant passionate energy, and its defiant violent action. Also, it makes a difference what coloring supplies you use.
How colors affect you
Great artists throughout our history have studied the hidden secrets of how certain colors affect the mind. Modern graphic designers are also taught these secrets in college, learning to create an emotional response using the meanings of colors in their posters, pamphlets, and advertising campaigns. See this article for more information about the psychological properties of colors.
When an artist learns to combine the right colors, with the right images, they will truly have a magical hold on the viewer’s inner psyche that speaks to them from within. This emotional effect is what makes words unnecessary when conveying an artworks true meaning. Color is a gateway to the heart, mind, and soul, making a black and white world seem much too cold and emotionless to live in, in comparison.
Below is a list of colors, and the known attributes they convey to the human mind.
Be forewarned though, that culture plays a big role in societal perceptions of even things like colors, so the associations that are listed are western based interpretations. Other societies around the globe may differ slightly in how their minds emotionally perceive colors.
Colors and their attributes
RED: Red is a very physical color.
- Positive Attributes: Strength, heat, energy, survival, passion, love, stimulation,
- Negative Attributes: Aggression, anger, danger, defiance, violence, and strife.
BLUE: Blue is an intellectually inspiring color.
- Positive Attributes: Wisdom, trust, effectiveness, commitment, reason,
- Negative Attributes: Cold, detached, emotionless, and unfriendly.
YELLOW: Yellow has very emotionally stimulating powers.
- Positive Attributes: Cheerfulness, pride, strong mindedness, camaraderie,
- Negative Attributes: Irrationality, fear, emotional fragility, depression, anxiety,
GREEN: Green helps to promote balance.
- Positive Attributes: Equilibrium, stability, renewal, love, replenishment, kindness, awareness, equilibrium, and peacefulness.
- Negative Attributes: Lethargy, rot, placidness, and fatigue.
VIOLET: Spirituality is an attribute of violet.
- Positive Attributes: Understanding, moderation, inner vision, ability,
accuracy, and specialty.
- Negative Attributes: Introversion, destructiveness, denial, inferiority.
ORANGE: Orange is associated with abundance.
- Positive Attributes: Comfort, sustenance, warmth, security, sensuality, and enjoyment.
- Negative Attributes: Want, tribulation, immaturity.
PINK: Pink is a color of calm
- Positive Attributes: tranquility, caring, radiance, femininity, love, sexuality, birth.
- Negative Attributes: Promiscuity, emotional distress, debilitation, and decrepitude.
GRAY: Gray is a somewhat unaffiliated color
- Positive Attributes: Emotional neutrality.
- Negative Attributes: Doubt, sogginess, depression, dormancy,
BLACK: Black is all colors absorbed
- Positive Attributes: Diversity, magic, security, strength, and potentiality.
- Negative Attributes: Despair, apathy, malice.
Using Color to Convey Emotion
So now that we have established the basics of what colors can emotionally convey to our subconscious, it is easier to add certain colors into your artwork with a new perspective on how one actually “sees” a color. Colors can instill a powerful response in the onlooker’s mind that can help them connect mentally to your art.
Great artists throughout our history have studied the hidden secrets of how certain colors affect the mind.
Knowing how to add those distinct perceptions to your artwork, will make a tremendous positive difference in the outcome of your work. Broader possibilities open up artistically when using the enhancements of color attributes. One can utilize that potential to add a deeper depth to one’s work, beyond just lines and colored ink on parchment. See this article on how colors convey emotion.
Red can promote the feelings of passion and love, which it commonly represents. A red background can also help convey an angry situation, or environment.
A surrounding glow of Orange will instill a warm feeling: A glowing fireplace – The orange dress of a friendly woman – An orange background to an emotional place of safety and contentment.
By using Yellow in a background, one can also impart a warm, quiet, serenity to a piece. A dog joyfully running in a sunny field with the golden sunlight shining down in the background.
Green provides a feeling of prosperity and wealth, whether it’s used to color a beautiful garden, or a stack of dirty money. Green also has a peaceful attribute, and has conveyed that emotion long before the creation of the organization Greenpeace. But green also has a dark side, and can also convey jealousy and envy.
Blue is not always attributed to sadness, but it is a good way to subtly pair the color with a sad face or situation. Blue can also be portrayed as an icy cool, serene, and calming color.
Pure Gray is the only color that has very few psychological properties. Gray does instill a vision of clouds, soggy rain or fog, and in real life, the gray weather naturally depresses some sensitive people into low motivation factors, and not doing much of anything else besides sleeping or watching TV.
Black, is, as we have said before, all of the colors, totally absorbed. The psychological implications of that are considerable. Black also represents the unknown in people’s minds. This means that it can instill fear, especially when it is intentionally used in that context.
Conclusion: Art is one of the purist forms of non-verbal communication. It has an energy of its own, and using colors psychologically in your artwork, will enhance that natural energy. This creates a special connection within the brain that is both personal and universal at the same time.
The next time that you use color to express something in your artwork, think about the emotions that you want to convey to the viewer in your next piece.
Remember to put all of those different attributes of colors to work, into your work, in order to create your next mentally stimulating, emotionally powerful, and absolutely engaging work of art.
Over to you: what effect do colors have on you? Let us know in the comments below.