The Hidden Meaning of Colours

The Hidden Meaning of Colours

by K. Vanessa

If you like working with colours when making an artwork, it’s essential to know and understand the meaning of the colours you pick to use. Each of them have a unique meaning and a list of emotions and feelings we associate them with. In this article we have compounded everything you need to know about colours. So dig in and learn about your favorite shades and what they mean.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • A brief introduction of colour meanings
  • Colour palettes: warm, cool and neutral colours
  • The meaning of colours, including their positive and negative effects
    • Red
    • Pink
    • Purple
    • Orange
    • Yellow
    • Blue
    • Green
    • Brown
    • Grey
    • Black
    • White

Understanding the meaning of colours

coloured papers

Colours hold incredible power. They have a high effect on our moods, emotions and perceptions. They contain much more than a good feeling for the eye. Colours have been studied for decades and many researches show that it’s an exceptional tool to make an emphasis on the viewers. So if you’re thinking about working with colours in your artworks, make sure to study their meanings to create something harmonious and enchant your environment on a different level.

Colour palettes

coloured paints

Each colour can be categorised according to the moods and feelings they convey. They can be sorted into three different groups - warm, cool and neutral colours. Let’s see the characteristics of each group and the colours that belong to them.

Warm colours

As the name indicates, warm colours tend to make you feel warmth and energetic. The colour red, orange, yellow and pink shades belong to this group. In overall they symbolise optimism, happiness, enthusiasm, passion and love.

Cool colours

Cool colours remind us of nature, water and the sky. It’s common to associate them with snow and ice, therefore they’re colder for the eyes than the warm colours. Because they make us think about nature, they have excellent calming and soothing effects. Blue, green, purple and different shades of violet are considered as cool colours. They carry relaxing and subdued energies.

Neutral colours

Neutral colours can easily be combined with every other colour. They are natural and symbolise harmony and stability. Black, brown, grey and white belong to the group of neutral colors.

Red colour

Red is a lively and super energetic colour that conveys intense emotions. It’s the colour of intense emotions, passion, love and excitement. It can symbolise danger or threat and is used symbolically with respect to fire engines, stop signs and traffic lights.

Positive meaning: strength, warmth, energy, excitement

Negative meaning: aggression, danger, anger

Pink colour

Pink is primarily known as the color of femininity. It’s often used for small girls or women’s products. Its different shades have different meanings. For example pale pink is often the colour of kids and sweetness, while dusty pink has some sentimental and romantic vibes. On the other hand, strong and hot pink indicates youthfulness, positivity and energy.

Positive meaning: friendship, harmony, inner peace, approachability

Negative meaning: over-emotional, weakness, naive, immature

Purple colour

Purple is considered to be a spiritual colour. It symbolises harmony, luxury and creativity. It’s the colour of clever ideas and wisdom. It’s considered to be unique and independent and gives the feeling of being different. Purple is a sensitive colour that holds incredible creative energies. The shades highly affect the feelings it conveys. Dusty purple are a bit more sophisticated and harmonious, while a bright purple is creative, brave and conscious. In the old times, purple velvet was the symbol of royalty and power.

Positive meaning: fantasy, individual, creative, humanitarian, selfless, mystery, fantasy, intuitive, unlimited

Negative meaning: impractical, corrupt, immaturity, arrogant

Orange colour

Orange gives emotional strength in difficult times. It helps us to get in a better mood and deal with disappointments or hopelessness. It’s considered to be an optimistic colour that is uplifting, friendly and creative. It generates great and bright ideas and it’s the colour of friendliness. Orange is also considered as an innovative colour. It’s always up to date, spontaneous and positive. It helps to motivate people and look at the bright side of life in the challenging times.

Positive meaning: cheerful, optimistic, independent, social, creative, warm-hearted, enthusiastic, self-confident, extroverted adventurous, informal

Negative meaning: superficial, dependent, inexpensive, overly proud

Yellow colour

Colour yellow is uplifting and illuminating. It conveys hope, happiness, cheerfulness and fun. It’s the colour of new ideas, creative solutions and innovative ways. It’s considered to help people find new solutions for problems and a way of doing things differently. It is a practical colour. Yellow is optimistic, warm and energetic. However, it can symbolize alertness or some kind of danger too.

Positive meaning: cheerfulness, optimism, enthusiasm, fun, challenging, wisdom, logic, good-humored, confidence, originality, creativity, energy, freshness, clarity, joyfulness

Negative meaning: analytical behaviour, being critical and judgmental, pessimistic, cowardly, deceitful, non-emotional, impatient, impulsive, danger, alert, jealousness, caution

Blue colour

Blue is the colour of trust, responsibility, honesty and loyalty. Blue carries the feeling of sincerity, reservation and quietness. People who like to do things in their own way usually find beauty in the shades of colour blue. It’s the colour of reliability and responsibility that makes the viewer feel secure and confident. Blue is often used in situations where it’s important to take control. It’s the colour that symbolises peace, stability and harmony.

Positive meaning: reliability, trust and integrity, loyalty, tactful, responsibility, caring and concern, idealistic, authority, devotion, peaceful and calm, orderly, smartness, harmony, power

Negative meaning: being depressed and sad, rigidness, old-fashioned, weak, passive, self-righteous, conservative, manipulation, unforgiving, frigid, unfaithfulness

Green colour

Green is the colour of balance and harmony. It has great balancing effects, and it’s the symbol of deep emotions. Green is also the color of growth, the color of spring, of renewal and rebirth. It’s known as the colour that renews and restores depleted energy. It helps to deal with stress and improves one’s well-being. There are so many things around us in the colour green. For example our nature is filled with greens, therefore it’s usually associated with the colour of liveliness and relaxation. Green is a very emotional colour, that has very positive energies. It gives us the feeling of being loved unconditionally. It’s also the colour of money, growth and success.

Positive meaning: growth, adaptable, vitality, self-reliance, dependability, tactfulness, balance, nature lover, practical, down to earth, reliability, sympathetic, nurturing, generous, kind, loyal, renewal, calmness, family oriented, successful

Negative meaning: possessive, materialistic, inexperienced, over-cautious, selfish, inconsiderate, hypochondriac, envious

Brown colour

The color brown is a natural colour that has the characteristics of seriousness, stability, structure and deep support. It conveys a down-to-earth mood. It relates to being protected and supported. It’s the colour of responsibility and seriousness. It relates to quality and comfort in almost every part of our lives. Even though it’s a strong and independent colour, it’s considered to be friendly, approachable and trustworthy and honest. It’s dependable, practical and sensual.

Positive meaning: reliable, down-to-earth, sincere, quality, wholesome, practical, approachable, comforting, protective, friendly, stable, structured, supportive, strength, confident, sensual, warm, reassured, honest, sensitive

Negative meaning: boring, dull, frugal, predictable, cheap, materialistic, lack of humor,

Grey colour

The color gray is a detached, neutral, impartial and indecisive colour. It doesn’t convey too much emotion. Instead, it works perfectly with other colours. It helps to tone down really harsh shades and highlight others if needed. It’s the color of compromise, stability and prestige. Dark gray is considered to be dramatic and mysterious. Light grey is illuminating and lively, soft and sophisticated. Gray is solid and stable, creating a sense of calm and composure. It’s a mature colour, considered to be quiet and reserved. It does not stimulate, energize, rejuvenate or excite. But it balances out everything.

Positive meaning: mature, reserved, intelligent, elegant, reliable, dignified, neutral, impartial, professional, classic, solid, stable, calming, formal, dependable, conservative

Negative meaning: non-emotional, indecisive, indifferent, boring, lifeless, lonely, isolated, sad, depressed

Black colour

Black is the colour of mystery and elegance. It’s secretive and hidden, gives the feeling of the unknown. Sometimes it’s considered to be the colour of stress and depression. On the other hand, it’s said to help hide emotions, feelings, insecurities and lack of self confidence. It’s a professional colour, that symbolises power and elegance. It’s formal, sophisticated and prestigious. Moreover, it’s the colour of modernity, femininity and seduction.

Positive meaning: formal, sophisticated, seductive, protection, comfort, strong, contained, mysterious, endings & beginnings, rich, powerful, modern

Negative meaning: loneliness, depressing, death, evil, pessimistic, secretive, conservative, serious, too much control, sadness, negativity

White colour

The color white is pure, fresh and clean. It’s the color of perfection. The meaning of it is purity, innocence, wholeness and completion. It’s known as the color of new beginnings. Its basic feature is equality, implying fairness and impartiality, neutrality and independence.

White can symbolise goodness, light, simplicity, truth and wholeness. It’s minimalistic and modern and works very well with every other colour.

Positive meaning: sophisticated, modern, innocence, purity, cleanliness, whole, simplicity, immaculate, neat, self-sufficient, pristine, open, new beginnings, equality, complete

Negative meaning: critical, sterile, isolated, cautious, stark, fastidious, empty, plain, distant, unimaginative, boring

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