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The meaning of color

I'm sure you’ve noticed that I use a lot of color in my work. I have my favorites, a deep rich navy, a teal, coral and green are in all my pieces and then I add from there. Lately, I've been obsessed with mustard yellow and deep plum.

I go through color phases, one draws me in for a while and then a different one beckons after a few months. I don't pay much attention to color theory. I do pay attention to contrast, making sure I have at least a few light and dark hues in every painting. Without contrast, the composition just doesn't come alive.

I'm curious though, why color speaks so enthusiastically to some of us. When I see a jumble of happy, balanced colors I literally feel high excitement inside, my senses are stimulated and happy as if the cells themselves are dancing. Color combinations can definitely uplift and energize us and also calm us. It's such a personal thing. Do you have an internal color happy dance?

I like this from Psychology Today, "Use color—don’t opt out and live in a beige world. Humans are more comfortable in spaces with color than in those without. A beige world is under stimulating—and that can be stressful."

Surprisingly, color psychology is not a very well developed science. It's used in marketing by large companies to sell to us but the evidence is anecdotal for the most part. It is apparently very personal and illusive. I like to think of it as a language, if you are attracted to certain colors and palettes and you find someone else who feels the same thing - then you speak the same color language. So I think of you readers all speaking the same color language as I do - a bond we share.

I know you readers wouldn't be fans of mine if you didn't like my colorful work so I'm preaching to the choir here but I love hearing the response my work elicits. It's sometimes just a simple, "oh the colors!" Or, "it's so joyful!" I'm not sure how exactly my paintings produce joy in those who see them but I am grateful for it because the world needs as much joy and color as it can get.

How do you use color in your life? Maybe you wear it, decorate with it, create with it. Let your heart guide your use of color rather than a bunch of "shoulds" that we pick up along the way.

Georgia O'Keeffe

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