Intuitive Color

Intuitive Color

I have a bit of a confession to make.  As a color consultant, I go with my gut first- (after full-out discussions with the Client of course, and an assessment of their needs, wants, preferences and desires for their space, business or brand, and its color design).

I take a look at all the information, and at the raw data: the space, walls, architecture, logo, or existing visual identity, and then let my imagination wander.   After I identify my intuitive, initial, and well, gut response, I delve into my source material…my guides, charts, chapters and information garnered from my course of study at the IACC-NA (International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers of North America).

I cross-reference my initial, intuitive, and gut-level response with case studies, hard data, and historical info, and  analyze the color  choices from a number of vantage points including the psychological/associative, the sensory and the energetic.

In other words, how do colors make us feel emotionally, physically, and psychologically?  What emotions do we feel, or associate, what physical sensations do we experience, or associate, and what symbolic associations do we make with any particular hue..or combinations of hue?

Can we be healed by color? All of these effects, issues and questions come into play when choosing colors for the garden, the built environment, or a business, institution or organization.  There is no one right answer when determining, choosing or analyzing colors or color combinations for any purpose.  There are theories, the color wheel, associations, and our felt experience.  All of these must be brought to bear on our color decision.  Let’s look at some evocative color combinations in art, nature and life.  Evocative of…what?  Well might you ask.

Sometimes a complimentary ( opposite each other on the color wheel) color duo is necessary to add punch, accent or contrast, even within a range of softer, pastel hues.  Pale yellow and periwinkle blue cross into yellow and purple territory, creating contrast, without becoming jarring.

 Analogous colors (those next to each other on the color wheel), can work together to communicate a feeling, a brand,or a niche based on associations with nature. The analogous combination of blue and green  is a natural to express tranquility, life, truth, growth and hope.

Combinations of two secondary hues, such as green and lavender can create a feeling of both variegation and  harmony. The colors are contrasting, but also related, as they share the common element of blue.

We can look to the associations colors have with emotions to  better understand our reactions to them. Hatred can be associated with both red and black. This may be mitigated by the addition of white and pale yellow. How much each color is used is also a factor in how we respond to the color composition  as a whole.

Blue and orange, another complimentary pair, combine the tranquil and noble associations of blue with the happiness and joviality of orange. Tension or balance or…both?  We are held rapt by a sky both ethereal and dramatic.

Perhaps the employment of all three primary colors (red, yellow and blue) is the most dynamic of combos.  These colors, in near pure form, happily vie for attention in all their aspects, creating a brilliant, dynamic harmony.  This image keeps us awake, stimulates our minds, and enlivens our senses..  Like visual acupressure, all the points are touched..

Coming full circle, we return to the gradated harmonies of sea, mist, fog and sky…with the silhouette of a tree branch and a distant piece of the red-hued  Golden Gate Bridge thrown in for good measure.  Don’t “analyze this”…just let it wash over you…and trust your intuition, your gut response…they won’t lead  you wrong with color…ever.  ” This above all: to thine own self be true,” in color, and in life.   Is there a distinction?

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So well put and great visuals!! Love that succulent wall!

    • Thank you ColorMarie!
      Nice to hear from y Bay Area colleagues in color! i thought about the issue of intuitive/gut response when approaching a visual identity color analysis for the company of a dear friend and associate. When I look at something…I often “see” the colors from within, and then try out different combos…to see if all the data lines up. It usually does!


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