Last week a reader had a question about color that I thought was interesting. She said that she prefers my brighter paintings, and the paintings with more subdued colors seem sad. She wondered if my muted palette had to do with the recycled paints that are currently available and if it’s indicative of people feeling disturbed.
Everyone perceives color differently, and we each have our own associations with colors. Hot pink may remind you of fun times with bubble gum and cotton candy, or it could remind you of being sick and having to take Pepto Bismo!
Some people like really bright colors, and others prefer a more muted palette. Subdued colors aren’t necessarily sad. What some see as sad others see as quiet, peaceful and soothing. Bright colors can be jarring and too loud for some people.
It is true, however, that the brighter colors aren’t very available right now in the recycled and Oops! paints. Color trends come and go, so I’m not sure if it’s related to the pandemic and everything going on in the world or if it’s part of the normal variations we always see.
To answer this question, I asked color expert Gloria Jaroff. Gloria is a retired architect and author of the book The Nature of Color in Interior Design. Gloria feels that the retreat to safer and more neutral colors is a response to stressful times. Here’s her explanation:
Short-term color trends are generally set by the Color Marketing Group, the premier international association which meets annually to select relevant colors and trend forecasting information. Since products are manufactured and marketed to the general public based on their selections, the availability of fashion and interior products is somewhat based on their limitations.
In normal times, since most people are timid about choosing colors, using neutrals can seem safe. However, the peaceful or restful feelings marketing techniques have associated with it appear – to me – to be a direct response to the pandemic and associated fears.
They are trying to “fix it” for us by promoting beige as peaceful or restful – assuming that everyone feels the same. Apparently that approach has been successful enough in helping people to feel less anxious so that they have retreated enmasse to beige.
Bottom line: most people have always shied away from choosing and using colors in large quantities on walls, ceilings, etc. That includes designers and architects. Current fears and isolation have exaggerated that lack of confidence, and marketing has promoted an even deeper retreat to neutrals as safe.
Below are some of my paintings that use a more muted color palette. What do you think — are they soothing or sad, safe or boring?
“Origin,” 36 x 36 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas
“Serendipity 1,” 30 x 30 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas
“Winter Solstice,” 36 x 36 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas
What are your current favorite colors? Are you seeking out colors that feel safe or comforting? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.
With love and appreciation,