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Understanding colour psychology and its influence on emotions

Colour psychology

Colours are what gives any artwork its vibrancy, but did you know that it can have an immense impact on the emotions and perceptions of the viewer? The human brain recognises colours and generates emotional responses and associations which are deeply rooted in culture and psychology. If you’re ever wondering why certain surroundings irritate you while others seem relaxing and calming, it may have a lot to do with the colour psychology.

Effects of colour psychology in art

Different colours elicit different emotional responses. Warm colours such as red, yellow and orange spark a variety of emotions that can vary from comfort and warmth to hostility and anger while cool colours such as green, blue and purple can spark feelings of sadness or calmness. Colour psychology is not just limited to art but also your everyday life. If you’re planning to redecorate your house or room with a new colour scheme, it would be a good idea to understand how your colour choice might affect your emotions and mood.

How can cool colours affect your mood?

If you want to be creative and get those brain synapses firing, use the colour purple. It utilises both red and blue and gives a nice balance between serenity and stimulation, which encourages creativity. Light purple helps make your surroundings more peaceful, relieving tension and can be a great option for your home or office. 

Green and blue are also effective to have a peaceful and calm environment. That’s because the eye focuses on the colour green directly on the retina, which results in less strain to your eye muscles. Meanwhile, the colour blue is known to be a calming and serene colour, which can decrease respiration rate and lower blood pressure. If you’re making an artwork that’s meant to depict serenity and calmness, blue is the way to go! 

Also read: A guide to care for your Acrylic Paintings

Colour psychology
Your choice of colours in art can impact the perception of the viewers (Image source: WordStream)

The effect of warm shades in colour psychology 

If you’re creating an artwork of food, or its meant to create a feeling of hunger in the viewer, consider going for yellow or orange. If you have ever noticed, restaurants often use these colours on their walls in order to increase business. However, these colour options can be a double edged sword, especially when used in artwork as both yellow and orange are more reflective and can excessively stimulate a person’s eyes, leading to irritation.

Different colours in art and their psychological effects

Color Psychology: The Color White

  • purity
  • innocence
  • cleanliness
  • sense of space
  • neutrality
  • mourning (in some cultures/societies)

Color Psychology: The Color Black

  • authority
  • power
  • strength
  • evil
  • intelligence
  • thinning / slimming
  • death or mourning

Color Psychology: The Color Gray

  • neutral
  • timeless
  • practical

Color Psychology: The Color Red

  • love
  • romance
  • gentle
  • warmth
  • comfort
  • energy
  • excitement
  • intensity
  • life
  • blood

Color Psychology: The Color Orange

  • happy
  • energetic
  • excitement
  • enthusiasm
  • warmth
  • wealth prosperity
  • sophistication
  • change
  • stimulation

Color Psychology: The Color Yellow

  • happiness
  • laughter
  • cheery
  • warmth
  • optimism
  • hunger
  • intensity
  • frustration
  • anger
  • attention-getting

Color Psychology: The Color Green

  • natural
  • cool
  • growth
  • money
  • health
  • envy
  • tranquility
  • harmony
  • calmness
  • fertility

Color Psychology: The Color Blue

  • calmness
  • serenity
  • cold
  • uncaring
  • wisdom
  • loyalty
  • truth
  • focused
  • un-appetizing

Color Psychology: The Color Purple

  • royalty
  • wealth
  • sophistication
  • wisdom
  • exotic
  • spiritual
  • prosperity
  • respect
  • mystery

Color Psychology: The Color Brown

  • reliability
  • stability
  • friendship
  • sadness
  • warmth
  • comfort
  • security
  • natural
  • organic
  • mourning (in some cultures/societies)

Color Psychology: The Color Pink

  • romance
  • love
  • gentle
  • calming
  • agitation

The next time you’re deciding to create your artwork, pay close attention to your choice of colours. Your choices could affect the overall tone of your masterpiece and could influence the emotions it can elicit in the viewer. While the subject of your artwork is important, your choice of colours can be equally important to express the complex human emotions on a canvas. Visual art has always been a form of storytelling and the most impactful stories are those that can create the strongest emotions in the mind of the viewer.

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