When teaching a workshop if painting red flowers I should probably post a “WARNING” sign.
It seems every time I use red or red yellow combination people “can” get agitated, leave early for the day or end up with a headache, while others absolutely love the bold colors and are excited about the composition they are working on.
When painting red flowers I try to warn them about the color and the affects it can have on them, even on a level they may not even be aware of. They think they are prepared for their emotional responses and reactions but the intensity seems to sneak up and surprise them. I have even tried changing the composition to make it less intimidating but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I do after all call the workshop “Big Bold and Beautiful Flowers”.
Before we begin to help my students be more aware of their possible reactions to color I like to ask them a few simple questions and notice the first color that comes to mind and their immediate response. There is no right or wrong answer. I will say an emotion, for instance, happy, sad, angry, love etc. everyone will have a different reaction to a color. For some a color they may consider happy may be a sad color to another. Color has the ability to have a huge effect on the artist and viewer and it can be very uncomfortable but valuable lesson.
Red is known for being a powerful color and a little can go a long way, it has the ability to create a fight or flight response. For instance much of business or product marketing is based on the psychology of color and how it will affect buyer or clients, many restaurants use to help stimulate appetite.
Lets look at some typical color reactions.
RED is power and the most emotionally intense it can stimulate faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love and can evoke excitement, frustration, passion, anger basically a fight or flight response. Red is used to grab attention and to get people to take action or even danger. A little bit of red goes a long way. Small doses can often be more effective than large amounts of this strong color. Red is often used in restaurant decorating schemes because it is an appetite stimulant.
Pink can be tranquilizing. Sports teams sometimes paint the locker rooms used by opposing teams bright pink so their opponents will lose energy. Studies have shown that large amounts of pink can create physical weakness in people.
Blue is one of the most popular colors. It causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals. Blue conveys importance and confidence. Long considered a corporate color, blue, especially darker blue, is associated with intelligence, stability, unity, and conservatism. A deep royal blue or azure conveys richness and perhaps even a touch of superiority.
Green is a calming, refreshing color. Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients. Dark green is masculine, conservative and implies wealth.
Black Black the color of authority and power or to convey elegance, sophistication, or perhaps a touch of mystery.
White Doctors and nurses wear white to imply sterility. In most Western countries white is the color for brides. Use white to signify cleanliness or purity or softness. White can make dark or light reds; blues and greens look brighter, more prominent.
Brown represents wholesomeness and earthiness and makes excellent backgrounds helping accompanying colors appear richer, brighter. Use brown to convey a feeling of warmth, honesty and wholesomeness. Although found in nature year-round, brown is often considered a fall and winter color. It is more casual than black. Brown can also be sad and wistful.
Yellow Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism.
Purple The color of royalty, purple connotes luxury, wealth, and sophistication. It is also feminine and romantic. However, because it is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial.
Orange is a stimulant – stimulating the emotions and even the appetite. Orange is mentally stimulating as well as sociable. Use it to get people thinking or to get them talking.
Here is a letter from one student that might help you better understand the affect of color
I am sorry I was so stressed by the class; it had nothing to do with you personally. I love your teaching style, the way you interact with each person as if they’re your new best friend, your competency to handle anything that happens on the paper and being able to correct our mistakes, and your generosity of spirit in sharing your life and talent.
I am now a poster child for what red and yellow can do to a person. I would not have believed it could affect me as it did, so please feel free to share my story in future classes. I know others in the class said to keep the tulips in; before I experienced what I did, I would have agreed with them. Nancy has known me from her classes in the past, and I think she was surprised at my reaction. I was totally unnerved by that painting. (I threw it away before I left the classroom.) but this was an extremely valuable lesson
Here you can see the the size of my 40" x 60" painting "the Opening"