The Meaning of Colors You Choose

Carl Jung, a renowned psychiatrist and proponent of art therapy, encouraged his patients to use color because he felt this would help them express some of the deeper parts of their psyche. It is believed that the color choices you make reflect a deeper meaning about your personality traits. For example, introverts and extroverts are likely to choose different colors – blue and red respectively.

The colors you choose to wear might also say something about how you are feeling that day. Some days you may feel like wearing something lighter, something red, or something blue. These choices are often a reflection of how you are feeling at the moment. Additionally, wearing certain colors may cause you to react differently to certain situations.

How Do We See Color?

There are 2 main sources of light that create the colors we see: the sun and lightbulbs. As you know, the light from the sun allows us to see things during the day as well as during the night when the sun’s light reflects off the moon. There is a visible spectrum of colors that we can see in addition to the combination of all colors (white) and the absence of color (black).

Surfaces reflect and absorb light differently, which results in the colors we see through our eyes. For example, a tomato absorbs all light on the spectrum except the red rays of light. The red rays of light are reflected off the surface of the tomato which then reach our eyes for processing.

The colored light enters the eye through the pupil, goes through the lens, then reaches the back of the eye called the retina. On the retina there are a bunch of light sensors called rods and cones. These rods and cones send a signal to the brain about what the eye is seeing. The cones are capable of seeing three colors: red, green, and blue. These are known as primary colors (RGB Model)

The Traditional Color Wheel – primary, secondary, and tertiary colors

Primary Colors (Traditional RYB Model)

Primary colors consist of red, yellow, and blue. These 3 hues can not be mixed or formed by any combination of other colors. Additionally, all other colors are created by mixing these three colors.

Secondary Colors

Secondary colors consist of green, orange and purple (violet). Secondary colors are formed by mixing 2 primary colors.

Tertiary Colors

Tertiary colors consist of red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet. Tertiary colors are formed by mixing primary and secondary colors, resulting in the two-word names.

If you’d like to know more about RGB and RYB models, CMYK, reflective and transmitted light, then there are lots of additional sources out there that cover more in-depth color theory. These are just some basic concepts for our series on color therapy, meanings, symbolism, et cetera.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of traditional color theory, let’s review color symbolism.

What is Color Symbolism?

Color symbolism is the use of color as a representation or meaning of something that is usually specific to a particular culture or society. Context, culture and time are certainly important factors to consider when thinking about color symbolism.

Examples of Cultural & Religious Symbolism of Color

Depending on the culture or society, colors may symbolize diffferent things for different people. Consider the Nigeria as an example. What colors come to mind when you think about traffic lights and signs? What about the flag? How about Christmas or Independence?   to be contd.

Excerpts from ArtTherapy


Leave a reply