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The Healing Power of Colour

Colour affects our behaviours, moods, and thoughts. It has the ability to bring healing energy, soothe our frazzled nerves, motivate and empower us. In the world of art the healing power of colour is undeniable and far-reaching.


For this section we have spent hundreds of exhilarating hours over the years doing research and compiling information. It contains dozens of facts about the power of colour.

The power of colour is inescapable. Colour affects your behaviour, moods, and thoughts.  Your reactions to colours are often deeply personal and rooted in your own experiences. A certain colour has the ability to soothe your frazzled nerves, agitate a hostile adversary, motivate and empower you to take action, and also to bring healing energy when you need it.


As Wassily Kandinsky proclaimed, “Colour provokes a psychic vibration. Colour hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.”


Chromotherapy – Healing with Colour

Several ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, practiced chromotherapy — using colours to heal. Chromotherapy is sometimes referred to as light therapy or colourology and is still used today as a holistic or alternative treatment.

Using Colours to Raise Awareness

Colour is a powerful tool used by organizations for campaign messages. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association launched a campaign asking people to wear and display the colour purple to bring attention to Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month.   Pink is the colour associated with Breast Cancer Awareness, while white signifies Domestic Violence. Red is the chosen colour to raise awareness about Heart Disease. 


Colour in Design

In the design world, we can observe how marketing and branding experts spend vast amounts of money and time in using colour psychology to influence your emotions and perceptions of their products and services. The colour blue is used by services to evoke our trust while the colour green is abundant in natural, eco-friendly, organic products. Website designers make use of the laws of colour combinations when creating websites for their clients.


The History of Colour Theory

In 1666, English scientist Sir Isaac Newton — the one who formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation and many other things — built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that when pure white light passes through a prism, it separates into all of the visible colours. He also discovered that each colour is made up of a single wavelength and cannot be separated any further into other colours.
In the 1700’s Wolfgang Von Goethe suggested in his “A Theory of Colour”,  that colour and light have subjective and emotional aspects.
The emotional responses to colour vary from culture to culture. In reported surveys, such as one conducted by Mehrabian & Valdez, 1994, black, white, and warm colours are known to stimulate the strongest emotional responses across different groups.
The chemist M.E. Chevreul (1789-1889) changed the entire course of modern art with his insightful theories concerning colours psychology, perception and colour harmony. The effort to devise a scientific approach to colour usage was foremost in the minds of eminent physicists and chemists in the 19th century.

Chevreul’s book, called The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colours and Their Applications to the Arts, reported his extensive observations of the optical effects of colours. He developed a series of guidelines for colours psychology that could be adapted to artistic endeavours.  One of his laws affirmed that when opposite colours are placed together, red and warm colours are seen a split second before green and cool colours. This causes a vibration to take place in the perception of the viewer. We know that the Impressionists used this law to produce naturalistic shimmer and movement.

Little Known Facts About Colour

The first known theory of colour was developed by Aristotle who believed it was sent by God from heaven through celestial rays of light. He suggested that all colours came from white and black and related them to the four elements – water, air, earth, and fire. Surprisingly his beliefs on colour were widely held for over 2,000 years until replaced by those of Newton.
It has been said that Leonardo da Vinci preferred to meditate in a lavender or purple-coloured light.
Some 75 percent of small children choose purple over other colours.
Depending on our cultural background the significance of colours may vary significantly. While the colour white is used in many Western countries to represent purity and innocence. 


How Colours Affect Us ~ A Few General Facts

Yellow, red and blue are known as “Primary” colours.

Yellow: Optimistic and youthful. When used in large quantities, however, it has been known to cause depression. You may have noticed this colour attracts the attention of window shoppers.
Red: Energetic. It increases heart rate and creates a sense of emergency. This colour is equated with joy and good fortune in many cultures. In many Asian countries brides wear red as a symbol of fertility and luck. In Europe it has been linked to aristocrats and the clergy. In the Catholic church the symbol of red is associated with the blood of Christ.

Blue: Trustworthy and sense of security. You see it associated with banks and many businesses.

Green, orange and purple are known as “Secondary” colours.

Green: Wealth and calmness. (think green grass). This is the easiest colour for the eyes to process.

Orange: Appetite stimulant and creativity booster. It can also be aggressive and is used as a call to action — to subscribe, buy or sell.

Purple: Soothing and calm. This colour is found in merchandising many beauty products.

Three other popular message-driven colours are black, white and pink.

Black: Powerful and glamorous (think “Black-tie” gala). It is used in luxury product marketing.

White: Associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. It is considered to be the colour of perfection. White means safety, purity, and cleanliness. This colour can represent a successful beginning.

Pink: Romantic and feminine. It is used for product marketing to women and girls and symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness.


A Few Quotes About Colour

Georgia O’Keeffe revealed, “I found I could say things with colours that I could not say in any other way, things for which I had no words.”

Marc Chagall’s stated, “All colours are the friends of their neighbours and the lovers of their opposites”. In other words, “Friends” are the analogous colours — those that are side by side.

Picasso said, “Colours, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.”

Oscar Wilde quipped “Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.”

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