What effect does colour have on us?

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This post written by Resident Artist - Dorothy Berry-Lound

Dorothy is 1stAngel Arts Magazine’s Resident Artist – April 2015
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In my earlier article (How do we ‘look’ at art?) I explained that colour affects the whole body and when we look at a piece of art we are using more than just our eyes.  But how does colour actually affect us?  Let’s start by considering each of the seven main colours of the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.  These are of course the colours of the rainbow – at my school in England we were taught to remember these by using the following mnemonic ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’. Each of these colours relate to a particular chakra or energy centre in the body.  Chakras are like spirals of energy.   Red relates to the base chakra, orange the sacral chakra, yellow the solar plexus chakra, green the heart chakra, blue (turquoise) the throat chakra, indigo the brow chakra (sometimes referred to as the third eye) and violet relates to the crown chakra.  At a simple level, colour therapy is about balancing the seven chakras and the whole aura using colour, and the healing art I work with contributes to that process – there will be more about that in a later article.

But what effect does colour have on us?

Never Alone
Never Alone

Starting with red, this is a powerful energiser and stimulant, the symbol of life, strength and vitality.  It is a hot colour and very strong, it catches our attention and therefore is often used in warning signs.  Red is the most commonly used colour to make corrections so that they stand out – my English teacher at school probably wore out several red pens correcting my grammar!   I might also add I was taught at school not to write in a red pen as it was considered rude and the equivalent of shouting.  That is because red can be seen as aggressive – think of bullfighting and the saying ‘like a red rag to a bull’ meaning that you are doing or saying something provocative. Funnily enough bulls can’t distinguish the colour red, but that is another story.

Orange is feminine energy and creation, a combination of red and yellow it promotes joy and happiness and helps us to create balance.  It is also a stimulating, fun, warm colour, focussing the mind on physical comfort, warmth, security, food.  Orange also has some negative attributes, however, too much orange can suggest frivolity and a lack of intellectual values.

Om 22
OM 22

Yellow is the last of the three warm colours and stimulates mental activity with a focus on the mind and intellect.  Yellow makes us think of sunshine, gold, happiness and pleasure. The main stimulus of yellow is emotional so it is the colour that has the most psychological effect on us.  Yellow can lift the spirits and self-esteem and is often used in counselling sessions.  Too much yellow can have the opposite effect causing fear and anxiety – bringing out our ‘yellow streak’.

Green represents balance, harmony, sympathy, healing, the environment and peace. When we actually look at the colour green it requires little adjustment in our brain and therefore is quite restful.  Green also appeals to our primal instincts as where there is green there is water and therefore we avoid famine.  Green can also, however, be quite bland so blocks of green can create feelings of boredom.

Turquoise creates a bridge linking the heart and the spoken word, allowing your truth to be spoken.  It works with the emotions creating balance and stability so it is good for alleviating stress.  It boosts creativity, communication, individual responsibility and respect for life.  Too much turquoise can make you over emotional or unemotional as two extremes.

Indigo blue creates a calm, inner peace.  It is a cooling colour and slows things down. It boosts wisdom, trust, serenity, logic, coolness, reflection and calm being essentially soothing.  Blue gives the impression of space and blue objects do not seem as close to us as red ones.  Whilst it is many people’s favourite colour, too much blue can be cold, unemotional and unfriendly.


Violet (or purple) develops higher levels of spirituality, a higher level of thought, self-respect and dignity, deep contemplation or meditation, peace and wisdom.  Excessive use of purple can bring about too much introspection.

Immediately we can begin to see how the application of colour in art can potentially have a profound effect on the viewer. This is explored further in the next article.

New Artwork by Dorothy Berry-Lound

New Artwork by Dorothy Berry-Lound

Imagine a world with no colour and no sun. Do sunflowers grow there' Let's imagine for a moment they do. Their beautiful heads will still raise towards an unknown light but there would be no yellow, sunny, brightness to the flower. But is it still be... 
A close up of parts of sunflowers, slightly abstracted. Sunflowers lift your spirits with their bright yellow/orange faces, always turned towards the sunrise. This is a bright cheery piece that would work well in a kitchen or communal area. 
This is a photograph of a section of the metal support structure that holds up Eastbourne Pier in Sussex, UK. Eastbourne Pier is a pleasure pier that is a Grade II* listed building. It was opened in the late 1870s and has had its fair share of excite... 
Beautiful pink hydrangeas shown here in all their glory but I have shown the hydrangeas offset against a ghostly echo of themselves. Hydrangeas are so pretty, their large mop head of flowers always brings a smile to the face and lifts the heart. 
This beautiful montage portrays one of the most striking flowers of the summer, gorgeous hydrangeas. In this montage, the soft pink and lilac colours, the mop heads of the flowers and even the leaf clusters are drawn attention to. 
A collage of three images of gorgeous hydrangeas in various shades of pink, blue and with a hint of yellow on one of the blooms. These bright images make a striking collage. Hydrangeas are such lovely shrubs, not least because as well as producing th... 
A wonderful, unusual, collage made out of a series of 'Gorgeous Hydrangeas' images. This would be particularly striking on a plain wall and would certainly prove a conversation piece with visitors.  
Here we see gorgeous hydrangea flowers in shades of pink, contrasting with the wooden slats on which they are stood. The leaves are pretty too but they come into their own in the autumn when the shrub produces fabulous autumn colour and interesting l... 
Gorgeous hydrangeas in various shades of pink - popular with bees and as a shrub a welcome addition to any garden. In addition to the glorious display of mophead flowers, in the autumn you get great autumn colour and leaf shape. 
Hydrangeas are a beautiful shrub, really good value with spectacular flowers in early Summer as shown here and then pretty autumn colour and leaf shape. This is one of a series of images based around 'gorgeous hydrangeas'. 
Sometimes beautiful memories creep through the cracks in our sadness, making us a smile. In the same way that this beautiful blue campanula has grown in the crack in an old brick wall. We focus on the beautiful flowers, not the fact that it is an old... 
This beautiful floral shows a dense collection of yellow polyanthus and crimson primula vialii in the bottom third of the image. The primula vialii on the left rise upwards leading your eye to the stems and tall leaves of the yellow iris that tower a... 
Perfect for Halloween, a dark mysterious image of a gothic cat guarding a pumpkin. The image is in black and white with a grunge effect and the words Happy Halloween! are shown in pumpkin-coloured capital letters. 
This is the front detail of a red Fiat 1500 Cabriolet. This car was manufactured between 1961 and 1967 and was participating in the 2017 Monte Cetona Classic Car Rally in Tuscany, Italy.  
This beautiful car is a Fiat 500 C saloon also known as the Fiat 500 Topolino. It was introduced in 1949 and produced until 1955. Here the car is parked in semi-shade in the main piazza in Cetona, Tuscany, Italy. Itwas participating in the 2017 Monte... 

Dorothy Berry-Lound

I promote life, work and energy balance through my art, poetry and writing. I specialise in photo painting –using my own photographs and using digital software techniques to develop the story of the images further with colours and textures. I was awarded Best Photopainter 2015 by CQ Magazine.Promoting the use of art for healing is an important focus for my artwork and I have developed a range of healing art and colour harmony images. The pieces I create always have a story, a message I am trying to get across or imagery to make you stop and think.

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