By Carol McIntyre
Marketing experts report that people respond to the color of products, web sites, and brands, almost immediately, and then make judgements accordingly. As People make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with either people or products. About 62‐90 percent of the assessment is based on colors alone.“, University of Winnipeg, in Canada, reported in her study Impact of Color on Marketing, “ Suffice to say, the power of color cannot be denied.
We as viewers supposedly assess the perceived appropriateness of a color being used for a brand or product when we first see it. In other words, we ask ourselves, does the color “fit” what is being sold?
As one who is interested in art, you may wonder, how does this information impact the art world?
Universal Guidelines About Color
Because of personal preferences, cultural backgrounds, life experiences and context, it is difficult to answer this question. However, I believe there are some universal guidelines about the power of color worth noting and considering when painting or buying art.
Research and articles on the topic of color meanings are bountiful. Though the conclusions are not always in agreement, we do know colors convey strong positive and negative messages. Color research has shown that certain colors can enhance mood, stimulate your appetite, decrease anxiety, heal, increase fear, make people smile and much more.
From a Western world perspective and some variations, colors essentially mean the following as outlined in this chart I created:
Isn’t it interesting to see them presented this way? With this snap shot you can see how and why everyone loves greens and blues, whereas other colors are not universally beloved and a couple are controversial.
Hue Value and Saturation
This color research is based upon isolating a color and then recording people’s reactions. Paintings are rarely created with just one color. Artists take color to additional dimensions, utilizing its three properties, which are hue, value and saturation.
Hue is interchangeably used with the word “color,” such as “red” or “blue.” Value refers to how light or dark a color is. For example, yellow is light in value, whereas reds carry a middle value. Saturation refers to how dull or bright a color is. For example the yellow petals of a blooming sunflower are of high saturation, whereas the yellow of hay is of low saturation.
As you know, each of these components work together to create variety of interpretations of an individual color, yet compositionally it is recommended that one color dominate a painting. Painters are challenged to juggle all of these components to set the mood because color conveys emotional content.
In my 24” x 31”painting “Entwined Reds,” the dominant color of red is varied in hue, value and saturation interwoven amongst other colors, which calms the typical strength of red and creates a sense of mystery.
If the dominant color in this painting had been blue, it would communicate a different message and mood. Consequently, viewer’s imaginations would conger up different interpretations.
In this next painting, “Hidden Stories,” 24”x36”, I chose a green and blue palette. Again, how would you react to it if the colors had been oranges, coppers, yellows and siennas? It would not be as calm and mysterious.
In the past, I often chose colors for a painting based on a subject or an image or an experience that inspired me. The color choices I made were more intuitive or in reaction to something. In the future, I intend to take a moment to think about how the colors I choose might impact the viewer. My field study painted in public, reminded me of this.
Color is ubiquitous and is an unavoidable source of potent information. How do you want to take advantage of this power in your life? If you’re a creative professional, who uses color you may want to stop and consciously ask the question, “What do my colors communicate?”
Whether you’re creating or buying a work of art or designing an environment, the choices you make about your use of colors have an impact on how you feel and make others feel.
Carol McIntyre paints with oils, acrylics and periodically collages papers. She has been the cover artist of Watercolor Magazine. Her work has been honored with awards in regional and national shows, and hangs in collections around the world. She is currently writing a how-to book about mixing color.
Visit Carol McIntyre’s page on Manhattan Arts International
How does the power of color impact you? If you’re an artist, how do you make your color choices? Please comment below.