Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nature, the Master Colorist

Research confirms that color evokes basic, universal responses. Although the psychology of color is not an exact science, the connections we make about color are often rooted in nature.

White reminds us of a clean and crisp landscape.

Yellow conjures images of sunny days.
DailyMail--online; photo: by Corbis
  Green is a reflection of a lush environment.
Orange, red, and purple turn up the heat.

While, blue is refreshing and soothing to the spirit.

from moallima's blog
Brown, tan, and gray neutralize the spice.
from: isaslittleworld.blogspot.
Finally, black adds drama.

How did these stereotypes gain acceptance?  The pinch of truth in each generalization sets it in cement. So, when determining a color scheme for any particular room, don't fight what the color is saying. Rather, let the stereotype reinforce the atmosphere.

Remember the clean decembral scene?  Subtly, I think, white kitchen cabinets imply that the establishment would pass a Food and Drug Administration inspection. ;)

Following this logic, a happy color intensifies the atmosphere in a sun-room, reminding the occupant of bright, light-filled days.

Maybe nature's lead is why I like a soft green for a more elaborately layered room. 

Just as a crackling fire heats a body, a warm color welcomes a guest.

In contrast,  a sea-foam color reinforces tranquility in a bathroom, making it feel like a spa.

Neutrals diffuse intensity and say, "Come in and dial down the anxiety."

Then, just as a foreboding sky foreshadows a crashing thunderstorm, so the darkest color, black, strikes a note of drama! 
To summarize, when picking colors, go back to nature. Let the world around you be your guide. Think about the message a particular color conveys. Do you wonder what would be an appropriate color for a dining room?  Ask yourself, "What atmosphere do I want, when I use that room?"  To help decide on a color, choose the mood you want to achieve, then think of how that is painted in nature. After all, the Creator is the master colorist!


  1. I love these kinds of analysis. It makes me think about what I have done here and how it works...or doesn't.

  2. Other than needing a thesaurus for some parts, this was a very informative article.

  3. Diane, I tried to get back to you via your link, but hope you find your way back here to read my thank you. I really do appreciate your honest comment. As a former English teacher, I often inflate my use of synonyms and don't practice what I preached: "Write like you speak." I went back and tweaked my post. Your comments made it better. I'd love you to re-read it now and see what you
    think! Have a great day.