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Color psychology is the study of how color affects human behavior. It’s a long-standing, field used in art, design, marketing, sports, medicine, and much more.

Despite its long history and widespread use, there’s a lot more to discover about how color affects people scientifically. Here’s are a few facts that have been scientifically proven.

We see certain colors more quickly than others.

Warm colors are stimulating and cool colors are calming.

A red room feels 10 degrees warmer, while a blue room feels 10 degrees cooler.

Colors can enhance the effectiveness of placebos.

The presence of green speeds healing.

Athletes perform better in certain colors and get penalized more in others.

Clearly, the responses to color are at once physical, psychological, and social, so identifying the strongest contributor(s) to a response(s) is no easy matter. The more social the response, the more likely it is to vary between individuals. Socially, color psychology has many layers – universal, cultural, regional, communal, individual. And then there’s time. Age (as well as gender) can also influence how a person perceives and interacts with color. An era or a moment can become important factors too. It’s complicated but it’s fascinating!

Color affects body, mind, and emotions. Color can be used by physicians to promote physical and psychological health, by businesses to brand identities and influence purchasing decisions, by political movements to propagate values and ideas, and by artists to communicate aesthetics and emotions. Color is a powerful communication tool that can be used to influence perception, mood, and action.

Considering the psychological dimensions of color consciously will give you a greater awareness of the phenomenon of color and improve your ability to communicate with it. Remember, there are shared responses to color and you have your own individual responses to color. Being able to tell the difference can be insightful. This mindfulness is something every visual artist will benefit from.

How will you use color?

Read more on Color Psychology here.

Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see a color? Chances are you’re not alone. Color associations come from many sources universal, cultural, regional, communal, and individual. These all change over time, with changes happening faster at the individual level than the global level.

It’s useful to understand what associations accompany colors for a majority of people. This understanding can be used to influence perception, clarify statements, reinforce messages, produce physical responses, and elicit emotional reactions.

It’s also useful to understand what associations accompany colors for yourself. This understanding can become the basis for a personal palette that gives your images a unique style. It will clarify and deepen your personal journey.

You’ll find classic associations with the colors of the rainbow and more here. You’ll discover classic images connected with a color, verbal expressions related to the color, and synonyms or the many words used to describe colors in the same family.

Red

Blue

Yellow

Orange

Green

Indigo

Violet

Brown

White

Gray

Black

Read more on Color Psychology here.

Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.

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Studying color psychology will make you a more able and aware communicator. After you familiarize yourself with the ways other people relate to colors it’s time to make it personal.

You have specific and unique relationships with color. This relationship has many layers. It’s a product of your biology, your culture, your time, your community, your experiences, and the reactions you choose.

When you become more mindful of your relationships with color you will deepen them.

Becoming more aware of your personal relationship with colors will lead to personal discoveries, help you communicate more personal messages, and do so in a more personal way.

Begin this journey into color by spending time with color and freely associating. What sensations, emotions, thoughts, memories, associations, words and phrases arise within you when you are in the presence of a color? Ask these questions for as many different colors as you can think of. It helps to look at the color while you’re doing this.

Do this more than once. How have your relationships with colors changed over time? It’s likely you won’t know unless you develop this habit of being more mindful of color. It helps to have a journal to look back and see influences and patterns over time. Keeping a journal can be a mindful practice.

When you first try this you may draw a blank. When was the last time you tried something like this? When you were a child? Reawaken that playful spirit!

Get the process started and guide it along the way with questions. Ask a lot of questions. Instead of looking for one answer look for many responses. Write down your responses. When you write, write for yourself not others. Forget about perfection. Instead, aim for rich and deep. Later, revisit what you write and add more. Continue to use this reflective process to energize and enrich your relationships with colors.

 

Here are a few useful questions to ask.

Do you or don’t you like it? Why?

How does it feel? (Describe the sensation of it.)

When you see a color what to do you feel physically?

How do you feel about it?

When you see a color what do you feel emotionally?

Where do you find it in your environment?

Where do you find it in other environments?

Do you encounter it a certain times (of the day or year) and not others?

What things do you connect with it?

Does it bring back memories?

How often do you wear it?

How often do you use it in your images?

(Look back at all of your images. It can be very interesting to track your use of colors over time.)

 

What other questions can you think of to ask of color?

Write them down.

Find more answers.

Continue your personal journey into color.

 

Read more on Color Psychology here.

Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.

 

Looking for great reading on color psychology?

Start with these three very different books.

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The Color Box

Lori Reid

A simple approachable survey that’s lushly illustrated.

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The Art of Color

Johannes Itten

The expanded version of a true classic The Elements Of Color includes personal exercises and analyses of historic paintings.

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Color and Human Response

Faber Birren

A comprehensive overview of all areas of the field by the most prolific author on color.

Read more on Color Psychology here.

Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.

 

An essential quality of color is temperature. Temperature can be used to attain a color balance. Temperature can be used to enhance spatial relationships within an image. Temperature can be used to elicit psychological responses within the viewer. Understanding and exploring the dynamics of temperature in color can benefit any visual artist.

There are physical characteristics of color linked to temperature. The color temperature of light (Kelvin degrees) is determined by measuring a black body radiator (an object heated so that it emits light). As the physical temperature of the object rises, color transitions from red (long wavelengths – low energy) to blue (short wavelengths – high energy) through ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). When it comes to light sources, physically, blue is warmer than red.

There are also psychological qualities of color linked to temperature. Psychologically, blue is cooler than red. These associative qualities of color with regard to temperature are almost universally accepted. This is due in large part to our physical environment – water is blue, plants are green, sunshine is yellow, fire is red.

Using the qualities of one sense (touch) to describe the qualities of another (sight) can be a tenuous affair and may lead to ambiguity and confusion. The more precise a language is the more useful it is. The language of HSL (hue, saturation, luminosity) is a very precise language. When using the language of HSL, hue values mark a position measured in degrees on a color wheel. A circle has 360 degrees, so the scale is 0 – 359.

Read more

cymbolism
Find out what colors people associate with words.
For instance, a majority of voters associated the word God with white.
Choose a color for a word, then find out how other people voted.
Explore it here.

Read more on Color Psychology here.

Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.


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