What Does a Favorite Color Scheme Say to You?
From a national flag to commercial advertising, home decorating or fine art, color has long been studied by scientists and psychologists, and as an artist, I find their discoveries fascinating. In this blog series, we’ll explore all the colors in a Crayon box, how they make us feel, how they work in a color palette and how we might use them in art as well as in everyday life.
You love red? Or maybe you hate red. Either way, red is important in your life. When you’re driving, red means STOP! In perilous situations, you might see a sign that reads DANGER or HAZARD and, at least in western cultures, the sign will be red. This is because, scientifically, red has the longest wavelength in the visible light region, so even in heavy fog or other low-light situations we will notice warnings of danger.
Physiologically, red stimulates emotion, increasing our heart rate and making us breathe faster. It’s the color of blood, which is probably why it’s linked to both passion and aggression, situations in which our blood really starts pumping. Socially, red often symbolizes love—as in valentines, red rose bouquets, and heart emoticons.
Red is the ultimate cure for sadness. – Bill Blass
Red comes in variations, and a preferred shade speaks of subtle psychological differences:
- Bright red is lively, cheerful and, even in small doses, denotes a playful attitude
- Maroon, which has a blue undertone, often denotes control and thoughtful action.
- Crimson, having very little blue, indicates determination to succeed and a desire to not upset people.
- Burgundy, which has a dark purple tint, suggests a sophisticated and serious nature.
“Nothing attracts attention like a red dress.” – Laura Bush
Since red is easily noticeable, you can use it to advantage when your desire is to draw attention. A splash of red will be the first thing you notice in room of neutral grays or browns. A man might wear a red necktie, boutonniere or ball cap. A woman might choose a red blouse, belt or lip, and nail color. Even if red is not your usual choice, you may be drawn to it at times of confidence and action.
- When a difficult task inspires you to give your all, red can mobilize your creativity.
- If serious demands are made on your abilities or your strengths, red can inspire vigorous effort and symbolize to others that you are energetically engaged.
- Red cars seem faster, and, surprisingly, a waitress wearing red often gets more tips.
Color is the keyboard... the artist is the hand that plays... to cause vibrations in the soul.—Wassily Kandinsky
As an artist painting primarily in abstraction, color is a key factor in every piece I produce, and I admit to loving color in all its flavors. When starting a new painting, my usual first decision is the color palette.
- A primary palette—red, blue and yellow—is a favorite. No matter how I temper the amount of red, however, it still tends to dominate.
- We’ve all see how red and white checkered tablecloths can stimulate a “good country cooking” atmosphere, much like ripe red apples collected in a white porcelain bowl.
- In India, red is the marriage color, and in China, it’s the color of luck.
- Because vibrant red pigments were expensive and rare until science developed synthetics, using red in decor has always signified richness and luxury.
- Any shade of red is most vibrant, I think, when paired with its opposite, almost any shade of green. Picture red poppies in a green field or a cardinal in a tree. Claude Monet deliberately juxtaposed opposites to increase vibrancy.
“That red carpet has to be felt to be believed.” – William H. Macy
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