Have a look around the room you are sitting in and look at how colour creates the mood. What is the predominant colour in this room? Take account of not just the colour in the walls but also the soft furnishings and the artwork. What is the dominant colour or colours? Why did you choose those colours? Are they your favourite colours or do you have them because they make you feel good, happy or relaxed? Do you like the colour? If not what colour would you like?
We make colour choices all the time, often subconsciously. Using colour wisely and creating harmony is about having colours put together in a way that is pleasing to look at, engages the viewer and creates within them a sense of order and balance. There are two extremes to this of course. At one end of the scale a colour combination or presentation can be so bland that people can’t be bothered to look at it because it is so boring. Think grey walls with nothing on them and the vast nothingness of many hospital wards. At the other end the combination could be so ‘out there’ and chaotic that people can’t stand to look at it. The human brain will reject under-stimulation as well as anything it can’t understand or organise.
My immediate thought when I was writing this was remembering an old friend of mine who always wore clashing colours – stood out in a crowd but for all the wrong reasons. I also once watched a ‘home makeover’ programme where neighbours were given the task of redecorating one room in another neighbour’s house. I watched with growing horror as one couple set about redecorating a dining room. They had lots of good ideas and some of the individual things they did were lovely but when it was all put together it was too busy with colour clashes and black walls and I couldn’t imagine sitting in that room very long, let alone having a meal. It was telling that at the ‘grand reveal’ at the end the original owner opened her eyes and burst into tears of horror. Apparently the room was redecorated two days later!
The art we produce contributes in no small measure to the mood and feel of a room and therefore affects the people and animals that use it. So does the soft furnishings, the throw blankets, throw pillows/cushions, duvet covers, etc – they all play a part in creating the mood for the room.
Let’s take a bedroom for example. If we are creating art for the bedroom how can we apply the colours to create harmony and enhance the mood of that room? The first thing is the choice of colours and if we want the people to sleep at night we should avoid using to excess red, orange and yellow because they are stimulating. Red raises your energy levels, orange stimulates your creativity and yellow stimulates your mental activity, not good recipes for going to sleep. Good bedroom colours include indigo which creates a sedative affect and slows us down and green which is calming. Pale violet is a great colour as it is calming and relaxing, pink dissolves anger and encourages unconditional love so is also good for a bedroom. Imagine a bedroom colour scheme based on blues, greens and violets with splashes of pink and perhaps peach to provide some warmth and you will be close to a recipe to contribute towards a good night’s sleep.
The stimulating colours of red, orange and yellow can be used to good effect at home, school and in the office.
Red is best used in a room with a lot of activity and is good in an office or communal stairway, for example, as it stops people gathering to chat. Red behaves in different ways according to the colours it is placed with; it is very dominant against a black background compared to an orange background for example. This is because black enhances the energy of the red (and any other colour you put it with). Red shapes can look larger on certain colour backgrounds so overuse of red in a room can make it feel claustrophobic. However, used well red can make a space feel cosy and warm.
Orange stimulates creativity and is bright and cheerful so is great for family kitchens and play rooms. Red and orange are good in a café as they stop people sitting and lingering over their coffee (have a look around next time you are in one of the coffee bar chains – what colour is on the wall?).
Yellow helps you stay alert and stimulates mental activity so it is good for activity rooms such as classrooms and social areas. If you have a dark room that gets little sunlight, having yellow in the décor will help compensate for the lack of light and make the room more cheerful. Yellow is used in colour therapy to treat depression but as with most colours, too much yellow can be overwhelming (it can cause hyperactivity) so it can be balanced with touches of blue.
Variations of the three warm colours can be used in north facing rooms, usually the colder rooms in the house, as the combination will create a calming atmosphere. You would not decorate these rooms primarily with the colder colours like blue.
Whilst all of this might not matter when we are creating art in general, these are all important points to note when involved in interior design where a holistic healing approach requires that colour creates the mood, something very much in vogue, and in the creation of healing art, the subject of the next article.