The Power of Color
Keith Haring – “Best Buddies”
Have you ever been so angry that you see red? Have you ever felt blue? Have you ever read prose that seemed purple?
Color is one of the most powerful elements of our world. It affects us deeply on a visceral level. And for that reason, it is a crucial element to art.
Art is able to bring colors together — sometimes in surprising ways — to create emotional and intellectual effects in the viewer.
Think of the color field paintings of Mark Rothko. In these large format works, the artist was able to create a depth of feeling with the power of pure hue. Rothko placed shapes of color in relation to each other. Through the brilliant use of color alone, he was able to create timeless masterpieces.
Exploration of color is an integral part of appreciating art and even a way to help you feel better.
How Artists Use Color
“I prefer living in color.” ~ David Hockney
Because we have natural reactions to color, artists can use it to communicate with our very bodies. Red, the color of blood, shocks us and grabs our attention. Blue, the color of the clear sky, is calming. Yellow, the color of Spring’s first daffodils and Summer’s sunflowers, warms us.
And when one blends the subject matter and painting style with the perfect color, it creates a profound effect.
Consider the legendary work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose chaotic use of lines and focus on social issues combine with vibrant colors. Altogether, his kinetic paintings practically jump off the wall.
Renowned artist Helen Frankenthaler often used pure color — jewel-like colors with complimentary pastels — to draw the viewer in. Her “soak stain” method thinned out paints and poured them directly onto unprimed canvases, making the colors (and the borders between them) very soft. Her saturated fields of color are pure poetry to the eye, evocative abstractions of nature creating her own sublime dreamscapes.
Andy Warhol used color to great effect in his famous portraits, each one in a series becoming a completely different image by his extraordinary choice and use of color.
Certain colors appeal to certain people. Color can literally affect your mood. What colors appeal to you?