Curious about color psychology in art?
For centuries, artists have used color to evoke emotions and set the mood of their work.
From Monet’s water lilies’ restful blues and greens to the bright yellows and blues of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, artists have been drawn to use specific colors to communicate an emotional message.
We will explore how color psychology plays a role in art, discuss psychological effects, and learn how different colors can make us feel when looking at art.
Let’s understand the emotion of color in art!
The Start of Color Psychology
Color psychology is a topic that has gained considerable attention in recent years. But where did this concept originate?
Historically, many cultures have associated certain colors with specific emotions, such as red with passion and anger, and blue with calmness and serenity.
However, it was not until the early 20th century that a system to color psychology emerged, with the work of psychologists such as Carl Jung and Faber Birren.
These early pioneers sought to uncover the ways in which the language of color can affect our emotions, thoughts, and behavior. Their research started the field of both color theory and psychology as we understand it today.
Emotion of Color in Art
Color is an essential element in art, with symbolic meaning across different cultures worldwide. Different colors carry different meanings, and represent different emotions, values, and beliefs.
For instance, warm colors like red, orange, and yellow evoke warmth, passion, and energy, while cool colors like blue, green, and purple represent calmness, peace, and relaxation.
Additionally, artists can use colors to express moods, create focal points, or evoke emotions in their artworks.
In summary, colors in art play a crucial role in conveying the artist’s ideas, moods, and concepts to the viewer.
Now let’s look at each of the main hues, and check out the infographics provided by Invaluable.
What Emotion Does Blue Create in Art?
Blue, one of the most popular colors in art history, is often associated with calm, serenity, and tranquility.
Different shades and individual colors of blue can convey different emotions and moods. For instance, light blue tints can evoke feelings of calmness and relaxation, while dark blue shades can represent sadness and introspection.
Picasso’s Blue Period is a perfect example of how different shades of blue can represent different feelings. His paintings in shades of blues, grays, and greens evoke melancholy, solemnity, and sadness.
Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting uses the color blue in a unique way. The bright blue sky with different shades of blue gives the painting a peaceful feeling. It is beautiful, and it makes you feel calm.
In contrast, Monet’s Water Lilies emphasizes the calming power of blue and offers a tranquil reflection of nature.
Different blues give off different feelings. Blue can be warm or cool depending on your color choices and how it is used in your art.
Learn more about the meaning of the color blue.
What Emotion Does Green Create in Art?
Green is a color often associated with nature, growth, and renewal, but it can also evoke feelings of envy, greed, or even sickness.
In art, using different shades and tones of green can have a significant emotional impact on the viewer.
For example, in Vincent Van Gogh’s painting Café Terrace at Night, the green colors in the leaves and accenting the eating area make it feel peaceful. It also shows how time passes, and life goes on.
Synchronie en Vert (Synchrony in Green) by Paul Sérusier uses many shades of green to create a feeling of harmony and balance.
Green’s emotional effect in different works of art can vary greatly depending on the context and the specific shades of green used by the artist.
Learn more about the meaning of the color green.
What Emotion Does Purple Create in Art?
Purple, a color often associated with royalty, luxury, and spirituality in Western cultures, is paramount in art history.
Its unique blend of red and blue creates a sense of balance and harmony and evokes complex emotions, ranging from opulence to melancholy.
Artists across different movements have used shades of purple to create various moods and sentiments or enhance the meaning of their artworks.
In Gustav Klimt’s painting called The Kiss, purple is used with rich gold leaf, silver and platinum to show wealth, power, and royalty. The purple flowers in the foreground make it look like the people in the painting are enjoying something special that only important people can have.
In Edvard Munch’s The Scream, the muted purple colors show sadness and worry. It stands out against the red, oranges and yellows of the sky and the more tranquil blue of the water.
Tracey Emin used indigo in her artwork called My Bed. The indigo gives the bed a mysterious feeling that looks like it is between life and death.
In all these works, purple evokes different emotions – from power and status, to melancholy and despair, to mystical and ethereal qualities.
Learn more about the meaning of purple color.
What Emotion Does Red Create in Art?
Red is a color that instantly grabs our attention and evokes strong emotions such as passion, energy, power, love, and even anger.
In art, red is frequently used to create a sense of intensity, dynamism, and urgency.
Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream is an excellent example of how a picture can tell a story. The red sky in the painting manages to accentuate the person who’s scared and worried.
Mit Und Gegen by Wassily Kandinsky shows how pairing colors can make them communicate differently. Pairing the bright red with yellow makes it more welcoming. But putting it with black makes the red seem more sinister.
The examples show how red shades and tints can be used in art. It can create intense feelings and reactions from people who look at it.
Learn more about the meaning of the color red.
What Emotion Does Orange Create in Art?
Orange is a warm and energetic color that can create a wide range of emotions in art and human behavior.
It can represent enthusiasm, vibrancy, excitement, and warmth, conjuring feelings of success, celebration, and ecstasy. But in contrast to that, orange can also evoke feelings of caution or warning, given that it is also associated with the intensity of fire and danger.
Piet Mondrian’s Composition II uses a strong shade of orange to contrast with the white, black, yellow and blue. It helps make the painting look warm and exciting.
Orange can be used in artwork to show different emotions. Depending on the shade of orange and how it’s used, it might make you feel warm, excited, or scared.
Learn more about the meaning of orange color.
What Emotion Does Yellow Create in Art?
Yellow, the brightest color in the spectrum, possesses a range of emotions in art that range from joy, enlightenment, and happiness, to warning and instability.
Various artists have used yellow shades and tints in different cultures and to evoke different moods and feelings.
Vincent van Gogh’s painting Sunflowers uses bright yellow to show happiness, light, and joy. The sunflowers are full of the color yellow, which means a better future.
In Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, the golden yellow color scheme suggests that the people are living in a special and wonderful place. This makes us feel like we want to be there, but it is impossible.
Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night over Rhone painting has yellow stars and lit-up windows. This makes for a sharp contrast to the shades of blue in the sky. It also creates a feeling of warmth from the windows of the buildings along the riverbank.
In contrast, Paul Gauguin uses an overabundance of yellow in The Yellow Christ that makes you feel anxious. It gives you an uneasy feeling and shows Christ’s pain and sadness in the painting.
In art, yellow is used to show strong feelings and emotions. It can be used to express different thoughts and ideas. Yellow can also help tell stories about people or things that have happened in the past.
Learn more about the meaning of the color yellow.
What Emotion Does Black Create in Art?
Black is a color that is often associated with mystery, power, elegance, and sophistication. In art, black can convey a multitude of emotions, ranging from sadness, darkness, and death, to elegance and luxury.
Pablo Picasso’s painting Guernica uses black and white to show how terrible and horrible war can be. It also shows how much people suffer during war with the stark contrast in the colors.
In Edvard Munch’s picture The Madonna, black is used to show that the main character is feeling sad and distressed.
Francisco Goya’s painting The Third of May depicts a sad event. It shows a group of people being killed in Spain. The painting uses black to make it look even more painful and scary, showing what war can do.
In some artwork, black is used to make it look fancy and special. It gives the painting depth and makes it beautiful. Examples are Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer and Blackest Black by Anish Kapoor.
Black can help us understand life in new ways. When artists use black in their art, it gives a feeling of sophistication and can make people feel different things. It could be scary or calming.
Learn more about the meaning of black color.
What Emotion Does White Create in Art?
White is often associated with purity, innocence, and simplicity in art. It can evoke feelings of cleanliness, brightness, and calmness, and is used to create space and balance or to enhance other colors’ brightness.
In the painting Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, white is used to show the light of the stars. The yellow-gold stars make it look bright and magical. The navy-blue background makes them stand out and look like they are shining.
In the painting White on White by Kazimir Malevich, white looks peaceful and simple. It is like being in a different world.
In Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Madonna of the Rocks and other religious paintings from the Renaissance, white was used to show purity and holiness. It showed that something special was there.
White is a color used in art to express many feelings, like peacefulness or something divine. It can create balance and help define the space of a painting. White also helps to create powerful sensory feelings.
There are so many shades of white – you need to choose the right one to communicate well.
Learn more about the meaning of the color white.
What Emotion Does Brown Create in Art?
Brown is a color that often evokes a feeling of warmth, stability, and earthiness.
It is the dominant color of the earth and is associated with the natural world, as well as with rustic, vintage, or rugged environments.
Brown does not necessarily create strong emotions like red or blue, but it does provide an anchor to the artwork, creating a sense of grounding, stability, and comfort.
In Rembrandt’s painting The Night Watch, he used brown tones to make the people look formal and traditional. It also helps to create the shadows that give the piece its mood.
The painting American Gothic by Grant Wood uses brown colors to show the Midwest tradition. It looks like it lasts forever.
In the painting The Gulf Stream, Winslow Homer uses shades of brown to show a boat on the ocean. The normally stable and reliable boat is instead surrounded by sharks and the man inside is in danger.
Brown colors in art make the work feel calm, stable, and secure. It can give viewers a sense of direction and make it feel like it will last forever. Brown also gives off a natural and friendly feeling.
How Artists and Designers Portray Emotion with Color
Another way to understand the connection between emotion and the psychology of color in art is to look at how different painting styles use it.
Here are a few examples from different art styles and periods.
Impressionism and Pastels
Impressionism is an art style characterized by its use of pastel colors and brushstrokes to create a sense of light, movement, and atmosphere.
The Impressionist painters used soft colors like pink, blue, green, yellow, and brown to show peaceful and happy feelings.
For example, Claude Monet’s painting Impression Sunrise shows a peaceful scene with soft colors. It’s a beautiful picture of peace and calm.
The painting Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir is another good example. The colors used in the painting make it look like the people in the painting are happy and celebrating something.
Paul Cezanne uses bright orange in The Reminiscence to make it look warm. He also uses soft pinks in The Reader, which makes it look dreamy.
All in all, Impressionists’ creative use of pastel colors helped them to convey emotions ranging from serenity to joyfulness in their artworks.
Romanticism and Natural Tones
Romanticist artists often used natural tones such as browns, ochres, and earthy greens in their art. This was to capture the beauty of the natural world around them in their artwork.
These colors created a sense of connection to nature and conveyed emotions such as awe and peace.
For example, the painting Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich uses colors like blue, gray, and beige. These colors make it look mysterious and exciting. People who look at it will get a lot of ideas about what’s going on in the painting.
Also, you can use dark and light colors in the artwork to make it stand out more. This creates contrast and makes the art look interesting.
John Constable was an artist who liked to paint landscapes. He put dark trees against lighter skies with bright clouds. This made his paintings look dramatic and exciting.
The Romanticists used colors from nature to make their viewers feel strong emotions. They also tried to show a connection between the art and nature.
Expressionism, Fauvism, and Complementary Colors
Expressionism and Fauvism used complementary colors to evoke strong emotions in their artworks.
Complementary colors are those that lie opposite one another on the color wheel, such as red and green or blue and orange. By using these colors together, artists create high-contrast images with strong emotional impact.
For example, Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night is painted with various blues and yellows to convey energy and motion in the sky.
Similarly, Henri Matisse’s The Joy of Life uses an array of bright hues, including pinks, oranges, greens, and purples, to portray the joy of life.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was an Expressionist artist. He used different colors, like blue and orange, to create paintings that were fun and exciting to look at.
All in all, Expressionism and Fauvism used complementary colors to express their emotions through vivid combinations that spoke directly to viewers’ hearts.
The Importance of Color in Abstract Expressionism
Abstract Expressionists made use of the power of color to create emotion-filled works.
The most important aspect of this art movement was the ability to express meaning through powerful colors, shapes, lines, and other gestures.
Artists like Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko embraced bright hues like pinks, blues, and oranges to convey emotions – often affection or joy.
Rothko’s No. 10 uses a complementary range of color spectrums, warm yellows and oranges and cool blues to draw in viewers and leave them feeling uplifted.
Jackson Pollock used many bright colors and different brush strokes to make his paintings exciting and eye-catching.
Abstract Expressionists made art that was exciting to look at by using bright colors that made people feel different emotions.
Pop Art’s Use of Primary Colors
Pop Art uses primary colors to express bold emotions in a modern, vibrant way.
The movement’s most iconic works use the primary colors red, blue, and yellow to draw viewers in with bright, intense hues.
For example, Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl uses cool blues and pinks together to create a feeling of fear and desperation.
Andy Warhol’s painting Campbell’s Soup Cans is only made with primary colors. This makes people feel happy and remember their childhood.
Claes Oldenburg is an artist who did something special. He made sculptures that were bigger than life and used bright colors like primary colors to make them stand out.
Pop Art’s success can be attributed to its ability to effectively communicate complex emotions through the use of basic color schemes with a powerful effect.
You might also enjoy these art quotes.
The Role of Color in Marketing Design
Color plays a vital role in marketing, as it has the power to evoke emotions and influence how users perceive products and messages.
Designers use color psychology to create a certain feeling when users interact with something they’ve created.
For example, warm colors such as reds and oranges can create feelings of passion or excitement. Cool colors like blue or green often convey trustworthiness and dependability.
In marketing campaigns, colors are strategically used to draw attention to a product or message. Bright hues like yellow can make an item stand out from competitors, while muted tones can be favored for a more subtle approach.
Ultimately, color plays a vital role in any design project. Designers must use the right combination of colors to elicit the correct emotional response in their audience.
Learn more about business colors for branding.
Color Emotion In the Digital Art World
The digital art world has embraced color in a big way, using it to create stunning images with powerful emotional resonance.
Color is used deliberately to bring out desired reactions, with some artists relying heavily on the power of color psychology to convey their message.
For example, warmer shades like orange and red can express energy, while cooler tones like violet or blue might invoke sadness or mystery.
Different kinds of art look best with different colors. Digital art usually looks best with bright colors, while landscapes look better with softer, more gentle shades.
Technology has made it easier for artists to create more exciting art with different colors. There is no limit to the kinds of artwork they can make with the right mix of colors and feelings.
Making the Most of Color Psychology and Emotion
Color is an essential element of art and design, as it has the power to evoke emotions in viewers.
Whether you’re creating digital artwork or marketing materials, consider how color can be used strategically to create a desired emotional response from your audience.
You can also learn more about why color is important.