Living In A World of Colour
Art isn’t just about creating something. There is a science behind the art. So, occasionally, I will post articles about different artistic topics and today I want to talk to you about a very basic topic.
Most of us experience a range of colours every day. In the clothes we wear; the rooms of our houses; the trees outside; and virtually everything else. Colour is everywhere!
But did you know that colour can have a profound affect on us? It affects our feelings, our mood, and our behaviour. Our entire life. Everything that makes up who we are is affected subtly by colour.
Don’t believe me? Let’s start with a test…
The majority of readers will have chosen the colour red. Why? Because red is a very strong colour. On the colour spectrum it has the longest wavelength. It stands out.
To understand the psychology behind colour, we must acknowledge the existence of the four primary psychological colours: Red, Blue, Green and Yellow. Lets see how each colour affects us…
Red can make our blood circulation increase, and maybe for that reason, we think of it as a ‘warm’ colour. Due to the intensity of this colour, it can induce very strong emotions. Roses and Valentine’s day hearts are bright red. When someone is really angry, their face goes red. Strong emotions like love or anger are associated with the colour red, and this also works in reverse. Red reminds us of these emotions. Because of the way red stirs up such powerful feelings, it can symbolise danger. It’s used in a lot on the road. On the rear lights of cars, on road signs and traffic lights.
Red is also used as a symbol of power and sometimes imperialism. A good example would be the overwhelming redness of the banners and uniforms in the ancient Roman Empire, which would conjure up a sense of danger and fear in the hearts of those who opposed them.
Blue is a much calmer colour, referred to as a ‘cool’ colour. Lighter blues give a sense of peace. It soothes us and can stimulate tiredness. It affects our mental ability, allowing us to think clearer in its presence. We can focus better if a room is painted blue, than a room painted in any other colour, and it encourages productivity.
Statistically speaking, blue is the most common favourite colour. There’s a reason Microsoft made the Blue-screen error window that colour (you know, the evil one that appears when you’re computer crashes just when you’re about to save your work). It calms us, even in times of worry or stress.
When we think of green, the first thing that springs to mind is often nature and the environment. We are all encouraged to be ‘green’ in today’s (hopefully) eco-friendly society. Green is that colour in traffic lights that tells us that it’s okay to continue. Green is a good colour, often associated with money, security, prosperity, luck and health. We seem associate the colour with anything we perceive as beneficial to our lives.
It represents balance and harmony. It gives us a feeling of relaxation and when exposed to enough green on a daily basis, the colour can help the immune system stay healthy as stress levels are decreased.
Yellow is the colour of emotion, and like red, it is a very strong colour. Yellow evokes emotional responses in a similar way to red, and that’s why it is often used in emoticons, for example: 🙂 😦
Yellow seems to be associated mostly with happiness, confidence and high self-esteem, but it can equally provoke the opposite feelings if a person is shown a duller yellow. In some places, yellow lighting has been replaced with blue lighting because of the negative emotions the colour can stir up in individuals.
These are the most basic colours, yet a lot of us aren’t even aware of the influence they have in our lives. A practical application of this influence can be found in our clothes. Wearing bright clothes that suit our personality make us feel good. Wearing dark clothes can make us feel bad.
But if bright colours make us happy, surely something sinister is going on in our world. Since the seventies, people have been wearing darker and darker colours. The ‘modern’ look is full of “sleek” blacks and “spacious” whites. Most phones and iPads (with the exception of those with personalised covers) are either white or black in colour. Black is a colour associated with death and darkness. It isn’t really a positive colour. And the world is slowly veering away from the bright place it once was to adopt the darker colours of some dystopian noir novel. Colour is slowly fading from our lives.
Thanks for reading, but before I finish, I’d like to leave you with these rhetorical questions for you to dwell on…
Which colour do you think has the biggest impact on you? And why?