Any color lovers out there? My hand is raised. I’m 100% OBSESSED with color! I understand that it can be a frustrating topic for some people though, which is why I’m here to sort it out!
Do you have trouble choosing colors that go together in your home or in your artwork? Do they look disjointed or just ... off? Good news! There are basic principles and rules that color live by, and once you learn them, pairing colors is a snap!
Here are a few helpful tips to get you on the right track.
1. Notice what you’re drawn to.
Obvious, but important. What you’re drawn to color-wise is valuable information. People are emotionally connected to or repulsed by certain colors for all sorts of complicated reasons. Pay attention to that! Your instincts are sharper than you think they are. Whatever colors you love, there’s a way to put them together.
2. Consult the color wheel.
You know that circular rainbow pie thingy that your art teacher showed you in high school? Ya, still helpful. Color wheels are available all over the internet and offer great information once you can make sense of them.
First off, you should know that the colors opposite one another on the wheel are called complementary colors. These colors look AMAZING together. Think red and green, purple and yellow, orange and blue. Stunning. However, painters beware! These colors can turn to mud when mixed, so consider layering them instead of mixing them on the palette.
Second, colors next to each other on the wheel, like green, blue, and yellow, are called analogous colors. They also look amazing together! It’s hard to go wrong with a color scheme like this.
3. Balance your values.
Values are, quite simply, how light or dark something is. When creating a piece of art, or arranging a room, try adding bits and pieces of differing values. This will anchor things and keep them balanced. For example, if you paint your room black, the darkest value, consider balancing it out with light, soft colors or punchy bright ones. If your room is all white, you’ll either need pops of intense color, or a mix of light values and textures to add variety. Texture and color go hand in hand!
4. Consider your feelings.
Does lime green make you queasy? Does red make you mad? You’re not alone! Colors can have intense emotional ties, many of which are very personal, and some hold true across the board. There’s a reason that most fast food companies have the same colors in their logos. Those colors have been shown to stimulate the appetite! Yellow and red = yum, yum. Purple = not so much.
Red has been shown to produce a burst of adrenaline, while blue and green have been proven to foster creativity. Research colors to find out what they mean, but always trust your gut first!
5. Mix, baby, mix!
Or combine. Or...whatever. When putting colors together, they must be BALANCED. That means not putting every electric color you love on every surface of your living room! That means not creating a piece of art in which every element is the same value and texture. Balance shocks of color with grounding whites, grays, and blacks. Try choosing one color and then playing with different values of it. This can be a very classy look. And you’re a classy human, I know it.
Items that are very bright or very dark carry a lot of visual weight, so you need to balance them out with expanses of light, to let them breathe. Let them breathe, for goodness sake!
Well, does that cover it? Do you still have questions about color? Hopefully, you’re slightly less baffled than before. Let me know in the comments!