The Psychology of Color for Artists

Color can be a decisive communication tool for artists. Colors affect our feelings, ideas and even our appetite. Just imagine going to a restaurant and ordering a pizza. When the pizza arrives, you discover that it looks awful. As a result, you lose your appetite. Just like that, a color can have a fatal impact towards your feelings.

Since colors affect our mood in different ways, there are artists that use them in their creations in order to make us understand them even better.

Cool Colors

Cool colors, for example, are known to create calm feelings, but intensive coolness can invoke sadness and depressive thoughts. Blue is used by artists because it can make you think of compassion and wisdom, but it can also be used in a more negative tone when it can make you feel coldness and solitude.

Picasso once suffered from depression and this can be seen in his paintings from that time because they include a lot of dark blues.

On the other hand, purple is considered to be the color of royalty, so it is associated with respect or even spirituality if it is used during holy days in the Catholic church.

Another example is green, which is used by painters to encourage calm, hope and harmony. Gustav Klimt has a painting of a lake that illustrates the perfect peacefulness of nature due to its shades of green.

Warm Colors

Then again, we have warm colors, which stimulate our energy and appetite. If they are used excessively, they can also increase bad feelings such as irritation or anxiety. Red, for instance, is frequently associated with romance, passion, sexuality and deep feelings if we think of Valentine’s day.

However, red can also induce sensations of violence and danger, but most of the artists use it to show the bright side of this color.

Yellow is often seen as a cheerful color. It stirs up happiness and friendship. But, as all the other colors, yellow has a dark side too, and symbolist painters use it to invoke danger, aging and even death.

Neutral Colors

These colors, usually described as greys, help to strengthen the painting and even though they are not the main focus of the artists work, this doesn’t make them less important than the other colors.

White indicates purity in many cases, but it can also express sterility and in some cultures, such as China, it represents death. Black is mostly seen as a negative color, bringing with it the signs of death and morbidity. However, some artists also use it to express mystery. Grey is considered by many as the color of neutrality and it speaks peacefulness. Finally, brown is usually associated with warmth and nature.

Psychology of Color in Literature

Although color makes us think almost instantly at paintings, painters are not the only artists that use the psychology of color in their works.

Writers (especially poets) do it too. Symbolist poets used this chromatic technique in most of their works. They used only 7 colors to express romance and emotions. These colors are white, red, blue, green, yellow, black and brown.

Also, gothic literature is known for its use of red and black as the two dominant colors through which the writer wants to describe the atmosphere. On the other side, fairy tale writers use colors the most. By way of this technique, they want to evoke an emotional response. The best example of this kind of writing is the tale of Snow White. The colors used in this fairy tale are red, white and black.

So, colors are not used just for the fun. Instead, artists use them in paintings and literature in order to spark different feelings and emotions in our heart.