What’s your favourite colour? It’s one of those questions we are often asked, along with ‘What’s your favourite food, place to travel . . . or wine? ‘
What is it that draws us to certain colours, what makes us fill our closets or our houses with hues of blues, yellows or reds? I’ve had an affinity for shades of blue, especially since I moved to Nova Scotia. I think it’s the colour of the sky, the ocean and lakes I see wherever I look, the trees that surround me. Clear, cool colours dominate my palette both in my home and in my wardrobe – and of course in my artwork. But that hasn’t always been the case.
I had a period of butter yellow and orange hued red, and I’m old enough to remember brown and orange dominating my apartment in university. So what is it that draws us to certain colours and makes us feel at ease in some environments and anxious in others? Colour trends in decor and fashion change with the seasons, but most of us have one or two colours we return to time and again.
We’ve probably all had compliments like, ‘you look great in blue’, or ‘orange is definitely your colour’. And next thing you know, there’s another blue sweater hanging in the closet. We are drawn to the things that give us pleasure, that make us feel good, whether that be a compliment on clothing, the feeling we get surrounded by greenery while we walk in the forest, a blazing orange sunset, or scrumptious red raspberries.
Advertising makes use of colour to evoke trust (blue), appetite (red); healthcare employs colour therapeutically and diagnostically. It’s not trivial and there’s plenty of research to show that colours can affect the way we respond to an object. Would you eat a blue apple? How about brown lettuce?
Even cultural differences can influence our preferences. When I travelled in China, I saw a lot of vibrant red and yellow used in ways that would not be quite so popular in North America. In Scandinavian countries, I noticed cooler, calmer colours being popular. Everything from the time we are born adds to the associations that determine our preferences for colour.
Scientifically, colour is energy that becomes visible because of the different properties and wavelengths each has. The shades, or hues of a colour depend on the light or dark that’s been added. What we see is affected by so many other things: the reflection of the sky, ambient lighting or, surrounding colours. As we age, our vision may even change to the degree that we see colour differently than we did before!
Abstract painting has pushed me to explore beyond my natural inclinations. I still seem to veer towards blue, especially brilliant blues and turquoise. My reds are a combination of magenta and yellow, rather than red out of the tube. I love playing and exploring with combinations, discovering the combinations that arise when the colours blend. Above are two examples of working with the intention to step outside the realm of dominant blues and they each have a very strong effect as a result of the colour.
My painting style usually tends toward being a ‘Colourist’, a term that implies that intense colour is the dominant feature in the painting, followed by other elements of design. I quite literally start painting with just three colour choices and create the basis of the painting from there. I know it looks like there are a lot of different colours in that painting, but most of the time, it’s just the way that I’ve combined the colours that give such variety.
What are your colour preferences? What do you think has influenced you? What are the colours that make you happy, calm, hungry and excited?
Here’s a list of colours and their meanings. Just click on the link and see what you think!
Hope you have a magical Fall and enjoy all the brilliant colours that the sunshine illuminates for us. We are so fortunate to live on a planet that gives us beauty to feed our soul. Let’s take good care so that the generations to follow will enjoy it as we have.