• Carolyn Land

The Emotional Impact of Color

“Colors like features, follow the changes of the emotions.”                          Pablo Picasso

Color can bring about many powerful emotions, but keep in mind that our life experiences have a lot to do with how we perceive them.  How we use it in our paintings, can bring out different emotions in different people, so it is good to know the range of emotions a color can evoke.

Collage by FL artist Carolyn Land

Color of Memory    (warm colors)


Warm Colors: Those in the red, orange, and yellow families, can spark emotions ranging from love and warmth to hostility and danger. They are the colors of the setting sun and the heat of fire.

  1. Red: Is a high-energy color.  It is associated with love, passion, power, strength, war and danger.  It has also been known to increase the metabolism, respiration rate, and raise your blood pressure.  It demands the viewers’ attention.

  2. Orange: Combines the energy found in red with the happiness found in yellow, and represents creativity and determination.  It is associated with enthusiasm and success.  (I have an orange wall in my living room…Hmm I wonder what that say about me?)  🙂

  3. Yellow: The color of  happiness, joy, cheerfulness, and intellect.  It has been known to stimulate mental activity.  It is an attention “getter”. However, if you use too much, it can have a disturbing effect on the viewer.  It has also been associated with cowardice.

Collage by FL artist Carolyn land

Mountain Stream                            (cool colors)


The Cool Colors:  Those in the green, blue, and purple families. They can spark feeling that range from calm to sadness, the cool green of the grass to the foggy purple mist of a rainy morning.

  1. Green: Is the color of nature.  It symbolizes growth, harmony, fertility, and wisdom.   It has great healing powers and can slow the metabolism and can calm the mind.  It is also the color of envy and jealousy

  2. Blue: Is the color of stability. It is associated with elements in nature, sky, sea, and distant mountains.  It is the color of youth, spirituality, truth, peace, order, and the yearning spirit.

  3. Purple: Combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. It symbolizes royalty, dignity, magic, and mystery. It is associated with wisdom, dignity, and independence.

And…we can change the meaning of any color with the drop of white or black, when we make tints and shades; or when we mix the opposite colors on the color wheel and get those wonderful neutrals.

“Colors in paintings are as allurements for persuading the eyes, as the sweetness of meter is to poetry.”                          Nicolas Poussin

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