Today is the last day of the ‘Finding Colour Confidence’ blog series!  Like any trip overseas, it has come to the end {far} too quickly, we all feel like we didn’t eat enough of the amazing local food and we’ve all come home with a few extra kilos {thankfully this time it’s just knowledge we’ve gained haha!}.  

Colour really is altogether pretty amazing, don’t you think?  And wouldn’t you agree it’s amazing that we can often associate the way we {feel} with colour?  That it actually stimulates something in us that makes us FEEL something about it!?

That colour can have a physical impact on us is nothing short of mind-blowing.  And in case you didn’t already know, there are actually scientific reasons behind why businesses use certain colours in their branding – red for this, blue for that, black here and orange there – and it’s not just aesthetics!

But before we go any further, let me introduce today’s guest – the lovely Anne from Lolli & Grace.  Anne is a creative who specialises in hand-stitching her drawings and creating patterns for others to create with.  When I look at Anne’s work, it makes me feel so happy!  {I mean, would you just look at her?? How could she not? Doesn’t she just radiate and embody joy and happiness??}  Her use of colour is joyful, playful, warm and inviting.  Her designs feel fresh and fun.  It’s colour psychology {in action}, folks, which happens to be today’s topic!  But before we look into that, let’s hear from Anne!

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
The oh so lovely Anne!

Interview with Anne from Lolli & Grace

Do you have a favourite colour?  

This one’s easy, because the answer is yes – PINK!  It’s difficult for me to not include some form of pink in my designs, whether it’s full-on fuchsia, rosy pink, hot pink, blush pink or even a combination of pinks.  But I will also say that when I’ve made a conscious decision to use a color palette that is different from my usual “go-to” colors.  I’m always invigorated and excited to play with colors and combinations that surprise or challenge me.

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

How would you describe your personal aesthetic and how does it relate to your use of colour?

My personal style, as in the clothes I like to wear, usually tends towards a deeper palette of the same colors I like to use when I design.  For instance, I like to wear deep pink or maroon shirts, often with a scarf that has teal, slate blue or spring green in it. For my embroidery designs, I use those same colors but they are BRIGHT!

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

When I look at your designs and the way you use colour, it makes me feel happy!  And while your designs use lots of bright and bold colours your designs don’t feel overbearing.  Why do you think that is and what does it have to do with the way you use colour?

First of all, that’s pretty much the best compliment you can give me!  I think the true measure of success for an artist is that they are able to evoke emotion in their viewers.  For me, I’ve chosen to imbue happy, cheerful feelings into my work.  There’s already enough darkness and bad stuff happening out there without me trying to create more of that, ya know?  But to answer your question (which is a fascinating one, by the way!)…in a recent Instagram post I said that I honestly feel that colors and color palettes trigger an actual chemical reaction in our brains.  (There is science to back this up.)  I use colors that appeal to me personally, but the combinations are somewhat based on long-standing color theories about which colors work well together because of the color wheel (such as, blue and orange are good colors together). But mostly I just pick the ones that make my eyes happy, and I’m lucky that other people like them too.

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

Something that a lot of us struggle with is being afraid to use colour (including me) and I think it is because we worry too much about whether our choices will be considered acceptable or technically correct (at least it is for me!).  Do you have any exercises or tips you can share with us to help us overcome this fear? 

I fully believe that THERE ARE NO WRONG OPINIONS.  If you like certain colors, then they are right!  As an example, there are certain combinations of colors that I adore (fuchsia pink/yellow green/turquoise/orange) and some that just make me say, “eh, no…boring” (primary colors used together – red, blue, yellow). But if someone likes primary colors and detests pink, that does not make them “wrong” – it’s absolutely right for them.  However, I’ve found that it is really easy for me to get too comfortable with my favorites, which is not a good thing. 

I’m learning to make a conscious choice to be open to colors and combinations that might at first not be something I would use.  Pinterest is a rich resource for this, because it allows me find all sorts of inspiration from a variety of sources – plants, interiors or fashion, for instance.  And I also have to remind myself not to automatically label colors as unappealing, because that’s limiting as well.  For instance, you know that color that is sort of green and sort of yellow? Chartreuse almost, but with a bit more yellow?  Years ago I would have written that off as a “puke-y” color, lol.  But now, I find this color to be so interesting, and versatile too.  So the short version of my advice is this – there is no “wrong” or “right.”  There is only what speaks to you. And remain open to new (to you) colors and new ways to use them, even if previously you thought differently about them.

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

Do you think it is important to have a technical understanding of colour, or is intuition enough?  What is your knowledge and use of colour based on – intuition, technical understanding, or a bit of both?

It depends.  I think having some technical knowledge is never a bad thing.  But intuition is huge, right?  I have a general knowledge of the color wheel, but I’m not chained to it when deciding whether colors are “acceptable,” nor am I classifying colors as secondary or complimentary or whatever.

Do you have any tips for people who want to develop their sense and understanding of colour?

One thing that I think has helped me was painting with watercolors.  Watercolors are all about blending transparent layers of color, so you spend a lot of time learning about subtle gradations of color.  Which colors look good when they’re mixed, which ones turn muddy, how to indicate shadows (and light) with color… things like that.  You basically immerse yourself in color.  And just like any mental or physical skill, the more you exercise your brain (and muscles) working on that skill, the more adept you become at it. There was a book I spent a lot of time studying when I was first learning about watercolor.  It’s called “Blue And Yellow Don’t Make Green” by Michael Wilcox.  There’s a somewhat scientific section at the beginning of it about color and light waves and all that, but the latter part of the book is truly about how to get the color you want by mixing two colors (or shades of a color) together.  I found it very interesting and helpful.

But for a more simple and quick suggestion, spend some time perusing Pinterest for colors and color palettes that speak to you. Sometimes you don’t know you like something until you see an image that makes that “happy” connection in your brain.  You don’t have to just pull combinations out of thin air.  Gather up some inspiration, immerse yourself in it, and gradually you’ll find yourself gravitating to the colors that work for you.

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

How do you choose a colour palette for your artwork?  

The very short answer to this is that I choose the colors that make me happy at the time I’m designing something.  Most often there is a bit of inspiration I’ve seen or stored away that makes me say, “Oh yes! Those are the colors I want to work with right now!”  And usually, I can’t wait to get started… my fingers and eyes and brain are itching to work with those colors.  I’m also very influenced by nature.  The colors with which I want to work generally get brighter in the summer, more subdued in the fall and winter, and gradually take on a lighter tone in the spring.  And flowers… always flowers.  They always get my creative juices flowing!

Thank you so much Anne!  What a perfect interview for a discussion around Colour Psychology!

Colour Psychology

Put simply, you might say colour psychology is the study of how colours feel to human beings.  Which is kind of weird, because we don’t literally feel colour.  We see it.  But in reality, colour does actually have a physical impact on our bodies. 

Put not so simply, colour psychology is the study of colour (or hues, as we learnt here), in relation to how it is perceived by the human body, and the impact it has on our behaviour.

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

How does colour psychology work?

Well, we don’t really know, tbh.  There hasn’t been a lot of study on it, and a lot of the evidence we have so far is anecdotal, but in general, colour seems to cause a physiological reaction in our bodies that makes us to react in similar ways.  

In saying all this, colour psychology is not an exact science because we are not robots!  The impact of a colour on an individual can depend on a number of variables, including culture, gender, age and plain old personal preference.  And this is the part that I LOVE because it confirms that there are no right or wrong colours! 

Because we {feel} colour, our {PERSONALITIES} actually influence our reaction to colour!  If you are someone who is reserved and quiet then you may not feel comfortable with colours that are bright and overbearing; and vice versa, if you’re someone who is loud and vivacious, you might lean towards the brighter, warmer end of the spectrum.  Of course, because we are all individuals, this might also be the complete opposite!  

Over time we have learnt that colours do tend to cause some consistent physiological reactions, however.  For example, red tends to stimulate while blue soothes.  White is generally associated with purity and innocence, while green is often associated with envy.  You can delve into this more deeply here and here.

So then…

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

How about colour psychology and design?

Since we now know that colour impacts the way we relate to or perceive something, it follows that at times we may need to consider the colours we use in design a little more closely than just using whatever happens to be our favourite colour of the moment.  And not only do we need to consider the colour we use, but also the tone!  {Gosh!  So much to think about!}

For example, if you’re making a gift for someone who has lost a loved one it might be thoughtful to use colours that soothe and express love, like soft pinks, blues and yellows.

If you’ve designed a simple pattern that doesn’t contain a lot of movement, you could liven it up through a palette that inspires action with bright red or orange.  

Or perhaps, if you have a child who won’t sleep at night, you should reconsider the orange and yellow room accents and head toward the cooler end of the scale with blues and greens that tend to tone down the energy level.

Can you think of any other ways you can use colour pychology personally, or in your work?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below, if you can!

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

In the end…

The psychology of colour is really just another useful tool we can use as creatives to help us in our artistic endeavours.  How much we use it is up to us, and it is important to remember that the way that we feel about a colour may not be how another person feels, for many reasons, including OUR individual personalities!  Nevertheless, colour psychology is an element of colour theory that can most {definitely assist us} in adding depth and meaning to our creations, which in the end will help us to connect more deeply with those our artwork is intended for.  And if you’re like me, that’s most definitely going to give a boost in confidence!  

Colour Confidence FOUND!

And that is it for the Finding Colour Confidence blog series!  *dusts off hands*  {S0} how do you feel now about colour now?  Because the goal was simply to open up some ideas around colour that might help you find your confidence in using it.  Because I wasn’t confident using it.  And I figured if I wasn’t, then there were probably others out there who weren’t as well..? 

Colour is subjective

Since I started researching colour and how to use it successfully just a few short months ago {and I use the term ‘successfully’ loosely, because if there’s one thing we’ve learned in this series, it’s that colour is SUBJECTIVE!}, I now feel much more at ease, and well, CONFIDENT {dang it!} in creating a colour palette!   

And, to me, that’s really wonderful, because previously I didn’t feel that way.  Previously, I was constantly second-guessing myself, researching palettes in Pinterest for hours on end {so much time wasted!} and worrying about what everyone else was doing.  And all that was nothing short of frustrating!

BUT… I can honestly say I’m past that now!  As a result of knuckling down, learning the basics and putting my newly acquired knowledge into practice, I’m actually pretty sure that both my skill and confidence in using colour has improved significantly!  {YAY!} 

And here’s another BUT!  99% of the time when I’m working with colour, I don’t sit down with a book of Pantone swatches and a colour wheel to do a thorough analysis of the technical relationships between the colours I have selected.  *Nope-ty Nope!* 

Trust your gut!

Mostly, I’m just trusting my gut!  {Huzzah!}  For me, colour confidence has meant getting a general and very broad understanding of the concepts of colour relationships so I can use them to build and express, and as a result, {ACCEPT} my own personal style.  And that’s what really excites me!  

I am so grateful to all those wonderful creatives who participated by giving their time to answer my questions.  And I hope it’s been an enjoyable way for [YOU} to dip your toes into the amazing world of colour!  But remember, there is so much more out there when it comes to colour – this series was just a drop in the ocean, so keep going with your learning, and keep trying new things!  I know I will be!

Further reading:

  • Fiona Humberstone of The Brand Stylist has a number of resources on Colour Psychology for creatives and businesses who subscribe to her email list.  
  • As per Anne’s recommendation of playing with watercolour to strengthen your colour muscles, Watercolour Magic is a Skillshare class which I enjoyed taking – maybe you will too! 
Finding Colour Confidence with Wife-made
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