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Bring On the Color!

The Color Wheel by Constanza Vera (me!)

I first started thinking about my color combinations when I began to find a pattern in the way that one of my closest friends greeted me every day at school. She would look me up and down and comment on what she referred to as my “distinctive” fashion choices. I would scratch my head and wonder whether this was a good or bad thing. The next morning I would be getting ready for school and for a split moment contemplate whether my bright neon zebra print leggings under my pink shorts were a little over the top. That moment of hesitation resulted ineffectively when I’d decide to keep it on and even add my red zig-zagged belt to throw in a kick. Yes, this was me--showing up to school wearing 7 different colors, bedazzled pink shoes and a striped headband to tie it all together. YIKES.

As I grew older, I realized that my crazy usage and understanding of color began to cause disruption in my art. Thankfully, by taking art classes that have explained color theory to me, I have managed to find a way to express myself in a how do we call it...less intense way. Instead, I am now able to captivate every emotion that I wish to convey and even at times in the same daring way.

Through color theory, I have learned about this little thing called harmonizing color. Harmony in color combinations helps to create order and ultimately engage our viewer towards our piece. Here, we want to avoid creating a visual that falls into the category of being bland, or on the other hand overly chaotic. Our human tendency is to completely neglect information that is understimulating. This means that if your color combinations are “boring” or on the other hand so chaotic and overdone, the viewer will not even want to look at it. This is why it is so important to incorporate structure.

One way to harmonize our color combinations is to use an analogous color scheme. This is using any three colors that appear side by side on the color wheel. This could for example be red, orange and red-orange. Another way is to use complementary colors which would be any two colors that stand exactly across from each other on the color wheel. This for example is red and green. Purple and yellow, blue and orange. Color combinations that are found in nature are also a great source for determining which colors are best to place side by side from one another.

Colors are just the perfect tool to bring out certain moods among your audience. This is because colors work as a way of drastically influencing a person and their physical and emotional state. For example, studies have shown that warmer colors such as red, yellow and orange are able to strike both emotions of coziness among individuals but also even those of anger. Red for instance has been proven to increase heart rate and lead one into an adrenaline rush that gets the blood pumping. Yellow and orange interestingly enough have been proven to have a psychological connection to food and work to increase people’s appetite. This is the reason why you might recall going to eat at your favorite restaurant or cafe and notice that the walls are painted these colors. On the other hand, the cooler colors of green, purple and blue display a sense of calmness among individuals and also work to make the audience experience feelings of sorrow. Purple is a unique color as it is a mixture of both a warm and cool color which works to create an abundance of feelings and encourage creativity.

Whenever you are sitting down to begin your next piece, you might want to consider incorporating some of these ideas in order to transmit just the exact emotions that you wish to convey and achieve the best reaction among your audience. So I say, bring on the color!

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