Psychology of colour

Colours are everywhere! We use colours to express ourselves in so many ways; in the clothes we wear, in how we choose to decorate our homes, in our food, in make up, nails, jewellery, crystals, stationery etc. Colours allow us to communicate subconsciously, evoking emotions, changing how you think, feel, react. Different colours can stimulate or relax us, they allow us to express our artistic flair! 

There are different ways colours are grouped;

  1. Cool and warm colours

  2. Tints and shades

  3. Primary, secondary and tertiary

  4. Complementary colours 

  5. Harmonious colours

I have written about the feelings the colours bring about and represent, when painting to release emotion and express yourself choose colours that are calling out to you. Do not think about what colours will go or the colours something is supposed to be. Be inspired by your anxiety!! You can use this as a guide to interpret your freestyle painting. Why have you chosen that colour? What emotions are you expressing? How can you overcome and heal these feelings?

Cool colours have undertones of blue, they are calming. But not just on your moods, cool colours lower your heart rate thereby reducing stress and anxiety.  Warm colours have yellow undertones, which is stimulating and exciting. They bring on a range of emotions and can actually increase heart rate. 

Tints are made by mixing colours with white, making the colour appear more feminine. White represents purity, virginity, innocence, it is the colour of angels. It is used to represent goodness, perfection, it is wholesome and serene. White is used in hospitals to create an atmosphere of cleanliness, comfort and safety. Conversely, in some cultures white is used in mourning, at funerals and represents death, funerals, and ghosts. White stimulates creativity, invites self-reflection, openness and awakening.

Shades are made by mixing colours with black, a more masculine colour. Unlike white, black is a very versatile colour and can invoke a wide range of emotions from elegance and power to evil and death.. Black is prestigious, formal, authoritative and used to show power. However, sometimes when we use black it is for negative connotations, to show mystery, fear, grief and depression.

There are three primary colours, so called as they cannot be created by mixing colours.

Red is a stimulating colour, representing romance, love and desire, it is known to raise blood pressure, giving you a pounding heart. It is also the colour of power, strength, war, danger and anger. Red can increase respiration rate, which makes us feel impulsive, determined and also anxious. Light red is gentle, youthful, innocent and vulnerable. Dark red is opulent and powerful. 

Yellow is also stimulating and is associated with increased energy, excitement, happiness and wisdom. It is the colour of radiance, hope and intellect as it enhances mental activity and stimulates the left brain. However, it is also used to represent cowardice, illness and old age. Light yellow is joyful, intellectual and fresh, whereas dark yellow gives feelings of caution, sickness and decay.

Blue is a relaxing colour that lowers the heart rate, this is because of the stillness of the sea and sky. It is soothing, serene and introspective, invoking feelings of compassion and sympathy, which is why healthcare workers are most often dressed in blue. Blue is wise, genuine, spiritual, enthusiastic and idealistic. However, blue also brings about melancholy and depression. Light blue is honest and trustworthy and dark blue is elegant and superior.

Secondary colours are made by mixing the two of the primary colours together, these colours will have the effects from both of the primary colours.

Orange is made by mixing red and yellow so it is very stimulating, energetic, cheerful and flamboyant. It is assertive yet youthful, spiritual, fearless and autumnal. Orange stimulates the brain and increases oxygen production. Light orange is friendly and soothing, on the other hand dark orange is the colour of deceit and distrust. Red-orange is an aggressive, dominating colour, the colour of action!

Green, made by mixing yellow and blue, is the colour of nature, growth, fertility and primal. It is invigorating, productive and stable and conversely it is peaceful, brings about hope and tranquillity. It is a very healing colour, slowing metabolism, producing feelings of calm and inner peace. Light green is restful and soothing but a yellow-green invokes feelings of sickness and jealousy. Dark green is the colour of money.

Purple, a mix of blue and red, is powerful, royal, luxurious and extravagant. The colour of wisdom, dignity, creativity, it is mysterious and magical. However, it can be tiring, bringing on feelings of frustration, gloom and sadness. Light purple is a restful, serene, creative colour whereas a dark purple leads to an inability to focus.

Tertiary colours are made by mixing primary and secondary colours.

Brown is serious, stable and wise. A conservative and paternal colour, it brings about nostalgia, which is why sepia is used to make something look old. It is earthy and yet somber. Light brown is honest and stable and dark brown is predictable and dull.

Grey is the colour of caution, compromise and peace. It is neutral and used to withdraw. Light grey, a soothing, calming and enlightening tint, whereas, dark grey is a serious, solemn, inflexible and strict shade.

Colour wheels are used to show complementary colours and harmonious colours. Complementary colours are directly opposite on the colour wheel and harmonious colours are next to each other.

Now that you know more about the psychology of colours, go forth and PAINT!!

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