Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fire in the Painter's Palette...

In previous blogs, we've discussed associations that we make for the colors purple and gold. I thought it'd be interesting to discover what the color red conjures up.

First thing I did was look up the emotional meanings of red. There it was - a romance novel in the making - lust, passion, courage, bravery and love. Red seems to signify intense emotions and is also the hottest color in the palette. So. then the question became: how have artists used the colors to generate the sensations and emotions of red?

Generally, it seems that artists have enhanced the warmth of red by using the coolness of blue or green. Some examples: (please click on image to enlarge)

Georgia O'Keefe's "Red Canna" is shown here on the left. The artist used red and other warm colors such as orange and yellow. Yet there is the slight cooling use of purple with its combination of blue and red. If you didn't know it was a flower, does this image bring up any sensations or emotions?

Henri Matisse was considered a master colorist. He used red and blue for the interior of the room and green to designate the exterior space. The piece is titled, "The Dessert Harmony in Red." What sensations does this image conjure in your mind as you see hot red against cool green?

Lastly, here is a piece by Mark Rothko titled, "Red and Blue over Red." In this case, the artist wanted the viewer to experience solely the color without subject or object in order to feel the sensations that the color evoked. What do you experience as you look at the painting? (enlarging encouraged)

Beyond these images, what do you think of when you close your eyes and envision red?


  1. It is interesting to see how three different artists used red. I think that my sense of what the color red is most closely aligned with Georgia O' Keefe. That painting looks like the fire that I think of with red. Another thoughtful post... thanks, Jen

  2. This was another interesting blog...Loved the first multi-striped piece. It reminded me of the every bright colors of Ecuadorian weaving. Di

  3. You might find it interesting that whereas we think of being green with envy, the Chinese refer to red as the color of envy. Carol

  4. I love the fire of the O'Keefe because that's what I think of when I think of red... passion, strong emotions. Can't say that the other two evoked as much emotion. Dee