Blue is one of my favourite colours to paint with. I have no trouble with inspiration for blue artwork. For this week’s blog post, I thought I would look at something slightly different, and consider the emotional aspect of colour choice. And use the fabulous colour blue as the focus.
If I ask you what the colour blue makes you think of? You may reply: the sky, or the sea. Interestingly, because of its association with the sea and the sky, we think of blue as a very prominent colour in the natural world. But in fact, blue is not that common in nature. Plants with blue flowers are relatively rare. There aren’t many blue fruits or vegetables, and very few blue animals.
Anyway, getting back on topic, have you ever wondered what emotion the colour blue represents in art?
There are many different shades of blue. As such, the colour blue has a number of meanings and associations. And it can trigger different emotions, responses and feelings from us, the viewers. For example, blue is well known as a colour which represents trust and loyalty. It is used by many companies to persuade customers to trust in them and their products.
Artists and designers also use colours to create moods, responses and to enhance environments. Colour can be used to convey positivity or negativity, and certain shades automatically trigger specific feelings in either direction.
When looking at art, it certainly helps to have an awareness of colour meanings and psychology. This can help with a deeper understanding or interpretation of what the art represents.
Artists communicate thoughts and feelings through their art, and their choices of colour can speak volumes. Sometimes it’s obvious from the colour palette and subject matter. Sometimes it’s a lot more subtle.
When it comes to using the colour blue in art, there are so many shades and tints of blue, from the lightest of sky blues all the way to deep dark, almost black, blue. These give artists and designers so many options with regard to the way they use blue to bring life to an artwork and communicate emotion.
With a little bit of colour knowledge, you can start to see how blue is being used to communicate with you and to convey emotion in the art! Relish the moment to really look at the colours and consider how they add layers to the journey of life.
With all this in mind, I have briefly commented on the way I have used the colour in a few pieces of my own blue artwork.
Blue is calm, tranquillity, and peace
In addition to representing trust, loyalty, and faith, blue is also often associated with calmness, and tranquillity. This is why blue is such a popular colour in relaxation rooms and spas since it promotes peaceful rest and feelings of well-being.
Looking at something blue is a good way to relax. If escaping to a tropical paradise with aquamarine sea isn’t an option, then a beautiful blue artwork could do the trick. Don’t be surprised at how calming that can be. Blue is proven to help lower the heart rate and blood pressure.
In this original seascape painting, called Light My Way, I wanted to portray the sense of serenity that I feel when I’m in the Scottish countryside or on the beautiful coast. The hues of blue and turquoise that I have used in this painting are calming, and capture that restful feel as day gently turns to evening.
The wild side of blue
While certain hues of blue induce feelings of calm, blue definitely has a wild side too. Deep blue can be representative of night and darkness.
In my original abstract cityscape painting, Living on the Grid, I used bold brush strokes of dark blues and deep purple to convey the force of nature versus city life. Can you feel that sense of wild weather and sweeping energy?
The sad side of blue
While blue is generally seen as a positive colour, it can also be used to represent sadness or mourning in some walks of life. And also in pieces of blue artwork.
While I don’t want to dwell on negativity in this article, since there is plenty of that in the world at present, I do think sadness subconsciously influenced my choice of colour in this blue abstract artwork, Dew of the Night. I was certainly influenced by the fact that I was spending quite a lot of time sorting through family papers and mementos following the loss of my mum. I started to express that through incorporating pieces of collaged writing, paper and postcards into some of my pieces. So the mix of dark blues and cheerful turquoise likely do convey my mix of sad emotions and happy memories.
So I hope this post gives you a little more insight into how blue is a very versatile colour that can be used to represent many different emotions?
Whether you're looking at art, or just walking through your day-to-day life, keep an eye out for all those shades of blue. I bet you’ll start thinking more consciously about what the blues may be expressing. And it may just be something that you feel a strong emotional connection with.
Jayne Leighton Herd
Artist & Designer
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