The Mysterious Psychology of Colours

Posted 22/06/2023 in Tips for Crafters

Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you!”

“Red is for London buses and post boxes, yellow is for sunflowers and rubber ducks, blue is for whales and cornflowers.”

From our earliest days, colour is woven into our lives, from childhood ditties, picture books that teach us colours, and observation of the incredible multicoloured world around us. As we get older, we associate colours with specific objects: our team’s football strip, white wedding dresses, yellow chicks at Easter and red poppies for remembrance. For many years, when babies were born, tiny pink wrist bands were put on baby girls and blue ones on baby boys. Before this, pink and blue cosy hats were used in hospital nurseries. Doctors now wear surgical “blues,” and before that, white coats. Postmen and women wear bright red and the police wear black. Would we react differently to a policeman in a turquoise blue uniform or a medic in a sparkly gold coat? Is there more to colour than just our associations?

Interior designers use colour to create their desired atmosphere. White walls will create a sense of space, while for a season, maroon was in vogue, creating a sense of warmth and cosiness. A therapist’s waiting room will be painted in calming colours such as a cool green or blue; a hot orange might lead to raised blood pressure even as the patient waits! Colour can also be used to convey a particular message. For example, summer weather temperatures reported in the 1970s were given as yellow (happy) sunshine, but more recently similar temperatures are depicted in red (danger).

How do you, as crafters who are experts in colour, use it in both the making and marketing of your products? A scant glance into the psychology of colour reveals that different colours do give rise to different reactions. Brown and black portray a sense of seriousness and stability and generate respect, hence the police uniform. Red is linked with both danger (hazard signs) and love (Valentines Day). Green and blue are calmer colours, with green especially connecting us with the serenity and life of nature. Yellow is the brightest colour in the spectrum and is associated with fresh ideas and brainstorming (lightbulb moments).

Colour is displayed to perfection in the natural world all around us. Green is a calming colour, so it is ideal to have as the backdrop for everything else. When we leave the city and travel into the countryside, many of us will let out an involuntary sigh as grey streets and concrete buildings are replaced by rolling green fields and trees. Blue and green, neighbours on the colour wheel, are easy on our eyes and make the combination of green earth and blue sky both restful and uplifting. As an aside, many of us feel our moods lift with a blue rather than grey sky. As well as the effect of colour, we also look up more when the sky is blue, and this action in itself is good for our mental well-being.

It is well documented that being outdoors is beneficial for our mental health, and it’s interesting to wonder how much of this is due to the colour combinations we see. After a long winter, the vibrant green of new leaves, together with cheery yellow and blue bulbs are enough to lift anyone’s spirits. The abundant mayhem of colour during the summer months, along with the exquisite beauty of butterflies, wild flowers and birds, offer a feast for the eyes. Autumn, with its tones of orange, red and brown, were, to our ancestors, indicators to gather in and get ready for the cold months of winter. And, even in the long winter months, colour can be found, albeit in more subdued tones and hues. 

Over the centuries, many artists have taken inspiration from the beauty of the natural world around them, and customers continue to want paintings that bring the outdoors in. The palette the artist uses will generate different reactions in those who view their art, and therefore having a concept of your customer base and even the season in which you are selling could be helpful in marketing. For example, prints resembling the work of Cassatt or Monet might sell more during the spring and summer months, whereas a more sombre palette evoking a Renoir or Constable might sell more during the cooler months. 

If you are one of those gifted artists who is able to recreate the beauty seen outside into paintings that can be brought inside, you may consider exhibiting your art work at a local gallery or exhibition. This is a wonderful way to meet potential customers as well as sell some of your work. Whether you collaborate with other artists for a joint exhibition, plan it by yourself and exhibit solo, or then invite other artists to join with you, you will undoubtedly need art exhibition insurance. This covers any unforeseen accidents to members of the public during the exhibition and unavoidable damage to your work itself (product liability). Art exhibition insurance can cover you for event cancellation, damage to property or equipment, or disputes with a disgruntled customer over a commission. While all these are unlikely to occur, and your risk assessment will make the event even more watertight, mishaps do happen, and the whole point of insurance is to cover you for the completely unexpected. As a family-run business with decades of experience in craft insurance, we are deeply committed to supporting small craft businesses as they step out and share their beautiful artwork and crafts with the world. Give us a call, and either Samantha or Naomi will discuss your individual insurance requirements and work out an art exhibition insurance package best suited for you. 

Colour is an integral part of our lives, and we can use it to bring calm or to invigorate, to lift spirits and to engender a sense of well-being. Whatever your craft, have a think about how you can best use colour not only in your products but also in your marketing throughout the year. Go make a splash!