paint brush swirling blue orange and red paint


What are colors all about?


Why are we drawn to certain colors and repulsed by other colors?


Do you like bold bright colors, or soft and muted colors?


Are you a dark color person or a neon color person?


In an art therapy session I love to talk with my clients about colors. We do a lot of painting that has to do with using colors to express our emotions (both positive and negative). During this activity, I am always asked, “What are the meanings of certain colors?”


Yes, there is a lot of research on color theory and what the colors tend to mean. Typically, red is a warning color, yellow is a happy color, orange is a warning color (like for construction or work being done), green is a sign of nature, blue is a color of sadness, purple is a color of royalty, pink is feminine, black is dark and empty, and white is purity.


That probably sounds pretty familiar, right? But then again, you are like, “Wait, I think she forgot some!” You are absolutely right! In art therapy, we see colors in a different way. Colors have meanings based on our own personal perceptions, experiences, realities, and fears.


When I play the color game with my clients, I like to ask them about the color red. I have them call out different meanings for red. Most of the typical responses are: anger, hot, blood, hate, rage, and devil. These responses are so typical because many of us know red as a caution or hot color like the STOP sign, a red light or the red cross symbol.


Then I remind people about the many other meanings that red can have like love, passion and intimacy. I remind them of red on Valentine’s Day, red in hearts, red roses, red lipstick, a bright red sports car, or a red cardinal singing in a tree. Quickly, they are reminded of the beauty that red has to offer. We remember that there is no true meaning to the color red. There are both positive and negative connotations for this color, as there is for every color.


We are reminded that the meanings that we say aloud for each color has to do with our experiences with each color. Red might mean anger for you but love for me. Are one of us wrong? Absolutely not.


Think of what you are wearing today. What colors do you have on? I bet if you think about those colors and what meanings you have for each one, I’m sure it reflects your mood today. We tend to consciously and subconsciously pick certain outfits with certain colors based on how we feel that day.


If you need a little “pick me up” that day, why not wear your favorite color. Why not wear a lot of your favorite color? Trust me, it works!


I love love LOVE blue. Yes, blue. All shades of blue. Okay, so I do have a few specific shades that I absolutely adore, but I feel that all blues are just so energizing and beautiful. You would never catch me without any blue on me. That is a fact!


Why not? It makes me happy, it kick starts my mood, yet is also relaxes me and brings me peace and calm.


If you want to add a little bit of happiness to your life, look no further than your closet, wardrobe, accessories and decorations in your own home or office space. Add colors that make you feel good and really think about what those feelings are that you give to those colors. If you haven’t thought about it before I challenge you to try it out.


Let me know what you discover.

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