Color theory – more thoughts

Actually i should have titled this post “the psychology of color”.  I have been reading alot… with the goal of learning more about art, art theory, color, and the like.  Obtaining a kind of informal art education to supplement and improve my insight into our business.  And one thing has always fascinated me.  It is the notion that color sets a mood, triggers emotion, or serves a psychological reason to us.  It goes from the color of paint we paint our rooms, to the colors we choose to wear, or even the color of food we choose to eat.

So what meanings do we attribute to colors, and what affect do they have on us?  If found a short list on the internet, and wanted to share:

Do different colors affect your mood?

by David Johnson

Read more: Color Psychology — Infoplease.com

Like death and taxes, there is no escaping color. It is ubiquitous. Yet what does it all mean? Why are people more relaxed in green rooms? Why do weightlifters do their best in blue gyms?

Colors often have different meanings in various cultures. And even in Western societies, the meanings of various colors have changed over the years. But today in the U.S., researchers have generally found the following to be accurate.


Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in fashion because it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman wearing black implies submission to men. Black outfits can also be overpowering, or make the wearer seem aloof or evil. Villains, such as Dracula, often wear black.


Brides wear white to symbolize innocence and purity. White reflects light and is considered a summer color. White is popular in decorating and in fashion because it is light, neutral, and goes with everything. However, white shows dirt and is therefore more difficult to keep clean than other colors. Doctors and nurses wear white to imply sterility.


The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love. Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier. Since it is an extreme color, red clothing might not help people in negotiations or confrontations. Red cars are popular targets for thieves. In decorating, red is usually used as an accent. Decorators say that red furniture should be perfect since it will attract attention.

The most romantic color, pink, is more tranquilizing. Sports teams sometimes paint the locker rooms used by opposing teams bright pink so their opponents will lose energy.


The color of the sky and the ocean, blue is one of the most popular colors. It causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, so it is often used in bedrooms. Blue can also be cold and depressing. Fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to job interviews because it symbolizes loyalty. People are more productive in blue rooms. Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms.


Currently the most popular decorating color, green symbolizes nature. It is the easiest color on the eye and can improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing color. People waiting to appear on TV sit in “green rooms” to relax. Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients. Brides in the Middle Ages wore green to symbolize fertility. Dark green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth. However, seamstresses often refuse to use green thread on the eve of a fashion show for fear it will bring bad luck.


Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism.


The color of royalty, purple connotes luxury, wealth, and sophistication. It is also feminine and romantic. However, because it is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial.


Solid, reliable brown is the color of earth and is abundant in nature. Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar to wood or leather. Brown can also be sad and wistful. Men are more apt to say brown is one of their favorite colors.

Recently Steve and I attended the gallery opening where the specific requirement for all of the pieces of art juried into the show was they must be blue… any shade, any color, but blue.  Standing in the presence of all of that blue… not only the artwork, but some of the gallery walls painted to accent the space in a deep ocean blue, and people wearing every shade of blue you could imagine was a sight.  And there was something quite comforting about the color blue.  People were jovial, having rousting conversations, eager to speak with complete strangers.  Was that influenced by the mood set by all that blue?  or was that just a unique group of people gathered to appreciate and support art at the local level?

I found another article on color and the psychology of color that was a different way of visualizing what we feel and think when we see color. The chart developed by Shigenobu Kobayashi, who is Japan’s leading color psychologist is here:

“Color Image Scale” by Shigenobu Kobayashi

And adding tones and shades of color to the different groupings of Mr Kobayashi’s chart begins to put the visualization of the meaning with the color and tone as shown here:

“Color Image Scale” by Shigenobu Kobayashi

Interesting, different way of looking at color yet strangely our brains are performing these types of calculations and thoughts.   Apparently there is a lot more to the psycology of color than i have ever given thought consciously to.