“The whole value of what you are about depends on color. If the color is wrong, everything is wrong: just as, if you are singing, and sing false notes, it does not matter how true you are.” —John Ruskin, Elements of Drawing (1857)
Every famous painter, from the likes of Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt and others, was fundamentally obsessed with his or her use of color, taking great care to select the right pigments and arrange them accordingly; always mixing, mixing, mixing to find the right hues that would manifest themselves in some of the greatest works of art the world has ever seen.
The ways and means of using color have varied from artist to artist. Rembrandt, for example, used around 100 colors on his palette. Vermeer? Less than 20. But one thing is for sure: color (or the expertly used lack of it) is what creates inspiring and lasting works of art.
Using Color Intelligently (Like an Artist)
Delacroix summed it up best: “My freshly arranged palette, brilliant with contrasting colors, is enough to fire my enthusiasm.”
Color has the power to inspire, influence, and transform. From the clothes you wear to the paint you choose for your walls to your carefully curated Instagram feed, here’s how to intelligently use more color in your everyday life.
- Familiarize yourself with the color wheel. The color wheel is the foundation of every palette. It helps you understand what happens when you mix one color with another. Looking at a color wheel can help you understand the effect that certain colors will have together.
- Learn to recognize it. Start taking note of the colors you see around you and the various hues and pigments they appear as. How do they affect you? You’ll find that you’ll be drawn to more colors than others for various reasons.
- Understand warm vs. cool. Everything on the orange side of the color wheel is “warm”, while everything on the blue side is “cool”. Warm colors appear to come toward the viewer, while cooler colors draw them away, creating the illusion of space. No wonder shades of light blue and green are traditionally used as a calming effect. Remember that you can have “cool” reds, yellows, and oranges as well as “warm” blues, greens, and purples.
- Create a “unified palette.” Artists use this term to describe incorporating the same hues in different places. If you’ve got some of one color somewhere, use it elsewhere to create a unifying effect.
- When in doubt, leave it out. Use a limited palette until you’re comfortable incorporating
more color into your life.
Ultimately, using color comes down to intent. What effect are you trying to create? In a bedroom, for example, you might want to create a tranquil space. Sticking to cooler colors, especially shades of blue and green, will leave you feeling airy and light.
These are all guidelines, of course, and guidelines can be broken…provided that you understand the basics. Happy experimenting and here’s to a more vibrant life!
Windows Floors & Decor is a one-stop interior design shop located in South Overland Park, Kan. For more information visit www.windowsfloorsdecor.com.