Color Theory: The Meaning Of Color

“Colors are the smiles of nature,” said Leigh Hunt, the 18th century British poet. Indeed colors manage to evoke strong emotions in us. They can be subjective as well; while some colors may cause a person to smile, the same color may cause a splitting headache in another. Culture also plays an crucial role in the acceptance of color. For instance, the Japanese see the color white as fortunate, but the Hindus in India consider it inauspicious to wear white clothes for ceremonies and functions.

Color has influenced us a lot, especially when we chose to purchase things. In fact, a 2004 research conducted by the Secretariat of the Seoul International Color Expo determined that more than 92.6 per cent of people attributed their purchasing decisions to color, and 84.7 per cent people thought that the color of a product was a key factor when choosing a product. Thus, everyone from marketers to other professionals engaged in the visual arts find it helpful to know more about colors and their meanings.

While reams of documents have been wasted to explain the concept of color theory, it all boils down to three basic categories of color theory; the color wheel, the color harmony, and the context in which they are used. While the color wheel refers to a circle based on red, yellow and blue, color harmony refers to the arrangement of these colors in a manner that is pleasing to the senses, and color context refers to the behavior of colors in relation to other colors and shapes. Using this theory students of visual arts learn how different colors affect individual people. Below is the meaning of colors and the manner in which they are positively used:

Red: Needless to say, red is a warm color and is associated with fire, passion, violence and even love. In fact, Cupid’s heart is always red in color. It is also the color of anger. Red is the color of danger; that is perhaps why danger symbols are depicted in red. Students of the visual arts use Red to define power and passion. While brighter reds represent energy, darker shades of red, portray elegance and power. This color has different meanings in a different culture. Thus, while red is the color of the Hindu bride, it is a color of mourning in Africa.

Green: Green can mean opposing influences. For instance, while it represents growth, beginning, renewal and abundance, it can also mean jealousy (hence the phrase green with envy). It has also become associated with the cause of the environment (go green).

Blue: Blue represents strength in some cultures and hence baby boys are often associated with the color blue. The color is also associated with sadness in the English literature (feeling blue). Blue has religious connotations as well. For instance, the Virgin Mary is known to wear blue robes. Blue gives a sense of reliability.

These are just some colors. A study of color therapy is sure to enlighten us. The underlying fact remains that some colors are used to reflect energy, passion, and positivity, cool colors are used to represent professionalism and calm.

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