Color Psychology - Part 8 Brown and Neutrals

Posted on November 21, 2016 by Kate Moynihan | 0 comments
In this series of the psychology of colors, brown is a natural color that evokes a sense of strength and reliability. In my paper collage below, I love how the warm copper and sienna make the cooler blue almost simmer. The same thing can happen in your home decor.
Brown brings to mind feelings of warmth, comfort and security. 
As a neutral brown is restful and safe. My architectural friends always said: "Delight in brown, it brings no frowns." 
Adding color to brown makes the serenity of neutrals sing. Brown combines well with brighter colors like light blues, pinks, yellows and especially oranges. Below, paired with red the power of brown practically bursts!
You may enjoy a medium brown wall color with accents of bright accessories in the room.
You'll discover that the warm cozy hues in your wood furniture will also blend nicely with your favorite accent colors. Greens and browns are a bit unusual in home decor, but I love the colors mixed together just like you'd find in nature. So what combinations do you like, ... brown and ....? Surprise me!


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Color Pschology – Part 4 – Red

Posted on July 25, 2016 by Kate Moynihan | 0 comments

Red = Drama

The color psychology of this “notice-me” color gives you a kick and gets you going. In its purist form, it is the most intense color, pumping the adrenaline like no other hue. It is a good choice when you want to stir up excitement. In the living room or dining room, red draws people together and stimulates conversation. In an entryway, it creates a strong first impression. Small amounts of this exhilarating color may be the way to go.
Lighting = effect

Light plays a key concept with this color. At night, in a room lit only by lamplight, the color will appear softer and more muted, perhaps even rich and elegant. The amount of natural sunlight will affect this color. A sunny, southern exposure saturates the color giving it more energy. If the room receives less natural light because it is shaded by trees, or awnings, or small windows, the red color has less power.

Red-blue vs Red-yellow

You can take some of the heat out of red by moving into a shade with more blue undertones, such as burgundy. Blue-based reds will provide more rest and ease than a vibrant yellow-based red such as cherry.

Do you = the power of red? Are you ready to take on red?

Decide if your laid-back personality needs a jump start. Or perhaps, you’re already running on high, then you might want to pass on this stimulating color, otherwise you’ll feel like you’ve had too much caffeine, or in room with preschoolers left to race around. Responding to your temperament will help you determine how much of this color to live with.

Red as an example

Painting the candle-making area of our shop a yellow-based red, named Auburn, the color provides the space with intimate warmth. Several key factors make it successful:

-The high, 12-foot white ceiling height adds an airy, open feel to the room, whereas a lower 9-foot ceiling would make the area feel small, closing it in.

-Adding to the airy feeling is the fact the area is painted red on three sides. The fourth side opens into the remaining large shopping area. If all four sides in a small room were painted red, the room could feel tighter and closed in.

-The wood tones of the floor, cabinets, and counters are a yellow-based brown which harmonizes and extends with the warmth of the yellow-based red wall paint.

-The space is 70 feet from the front door so the intense warm color draws you to the back section.

To enjoy red ... determine your personality: are you high energy or a bit more subtle?

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Color Psychology – Part 3 – Yellow

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Kate Moynihan | 0 comments

Yellow = lively when it comes to color psychology.

Hanging low in the sky the sun radiates the glowing, upbeat color that we love about yellow. It offers warmth, comfort, and wraps around you, embracing you with cheer. This joy of sunshine is excellent for kitchens, dining rooms, and bathrooms, where it is energizing and uplifting. In halls, entryways, and small spaces, yellow can feel expansive and welcoming.
Too much yellow = chaos

Then again, paint every nook and cranny with all this intense joy and the opposite may occur. In large amounts, bright, loud yellow has been known to over stimulate your nerves and create feelings of frustration and irritation. But take this happy color in small amounts and it can round out a room filled with a muted palette of grays, eggplant or navy blues.

Tone it down = perfect for large areas

Another beautiful fact about yellow is when toning it down into a soft butter to golden wheat the color becomes as quiet as you want to be.

For example, one time in a large open living room / dining room concept, I got the color right as I painted the walls a rich harvest color. The carpet was dark brown - the color of walnut hardwood floors. At the time, I was a first-time home owner and didn't have furniture money for the formal room ... sound familiar? So I placed refurbished white wicker furniture in the setting. The gold walls, white wicker, and chocolate carpet in the large open space lit up the room, making it feel cozier than an empty room waiting for the perfect furniture.

Using yellow correctly, captureing the correct color, can have the quality of bringing light into the dullest settings without much effort.

I love using yellow in my paintings to add bit of zip. Let me know if you've tried this fun-loving color.

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Color Psychology - Part 2 - Blue

Posted on June 09, 2016 by Kate Moynihan | 0 comments

Color really revs my engine.  With the physiological and emotional effects of color psychology explained in the previous post, let’s speed ahead!

Basic blue = calm and restful Ah! This easy-on-the eye color, with its tranquil quality, eases right from the heavenly sky or lulls from serene water.
Pastel tone = pure peace.
If you want to evoke the calmest feeling of all, choose a soft shade of blue, like a robin’s egg. All and all, the color of pale blue can bring down your blood pressure, slow respiration and decrease your heart rate. If you are striving for relaxation this is your color.
Increase the color = increase the energy
By adding punch to a light blue, such as aqua or cobalt blue, the vitality of the color will soar. Consider enjoying this color in an area in your home that is a bit more active, such as a family room or kitchen. This vibrancy and energy softens by graying down this more intense shade, rekindling the tranquil nature of blue in such colors as periwinkle or cerulean.
On the opposite spectrum of pale blue, choosing a deep, dark blue pushes the peaceful qualities of the color toward a feeling of sadness.
Add gray = decrease the strength

However, if you tone it down into the foggy qualities of gray it can become chilly, maybe even a bit icy if your windows reflect the same wintry feel from the outside. The type of indoor lighting and/or accent lighting you use in your room can affect the colors cold tone. If the room color is too frosty, installing warmer hues of halogen bulbs will offset the coolness of gray. 

Amount of color = its effect

I remember painting my first kitchen in the 1980’s a dramatic indigo gray mix. The room had north exposure windows so warm sunbeams never entered the area. The cabinets and floor were chocolate, not the light milky kind, the cabinets and floor were deep, dark chocolate. One coat of navy and the room became cave-like as I stood in the somber shadows. Even my twenty-something, novice decorating skills told me it was too much. The lesson here is to remember that the amount of color you apply is key to its effect. Painting an entire room one color is completely different than when you only use a handful of accents. As for my first kitchen? Instead of pulling out the blue-gray in the print of the curtains, I focused on the yellow and happily repainted the walls.

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Color psychology - Part 1

Posted on June 06, 2016 by Kate Moynihan | 0 comments

Color psychology is the study of various color as it affects human behavior.

In 1989, I was intrigued studying the effects of color in art class at Bismarck State College where I had returned to further my education. Perhaps it was my medical background as a nurse that made me passionate about color. That, and the fact my collegiate professor, Randal Simon, was dedicated to color.

He not only spoke about the power of color, but had personal stories of the use of color as a manipulating tool during his capture as a POW in Viet Nam. Through his emotional experiences and in-depth study, our class learned a lot about color.

Physiology – how color works: We see color when reflected light hits the light-sensitive retina at the back of your eye. The human retina consists of cones (which are responsible for your ability to see color), and rods (which respond to light levels.)

Your eye is like a fingerprint. Each individual has a different number of cones and rods. One person sees a fuller or different color spectrum and value of a color that another cannot see. Think: color blindness - a deficiency of color vision, usually referring to the inability to see a distinction between red and green.

Emotional Capability of Color: Randal believed, and others have studied, too, this unique composition of cones and rods in the anatomy of your eye is why everyone reacts differently to color. Certain colors, such as red, which is known to emanate an energetic feel, can raise an individual’s blood pressure a bit more than someone else’s. Think again about the "color-blind" individual. For them, seeing red and green as shades of gray, the emotional effect of energetic red will have less of an impact.

Using techniques similar to a polygraph, which measures and records physiological indicators such as pulse, respiration, blood pressure, and skin conductivity, an individual’s “base” color can be determined. This base color is the certain shade of a specific color an individual reacts most intensely. Some researchers believe discovering an individual’s base color is a tool so powerful it can be used as a brainwashing technique.

Like Randal’s POW personal experiences, your personal background might be associated with color, making the emotional effects of color more powerful, especially if your personal history was fearful or life threatening. 

This theory of reacting to color lets us understand why you may respond to certain colors in a specific way. You may feel powerful wearing a bright red tie or dress, while the next person is uncomfortable is such a bold color.

It is also interesting that 90% of our first impressions are derived from color. Take for instance the colors a friend chooses to decorate their home. If you find the colors comforting, you may discover that the colors are similar to what you purchase, not just for your décor, but for your car and fashion, too.


Some of you respond purely by the psychology of color, choosing an abstract piece. And sometimes, there is more composition, anchored with harmony or contrasting colors . 

What colors do you respond to? 

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About the Artsy Shopkeeper

Hi, I'm Kate Moynihan. Yes, I am a baby boomer, and my professional life has taken a few interesting twists and turns. The journey began as a registered nurse. After thirteen years of caring for others, however, I got the creative itch. At the time, I was a single mom living in North Dakota; that’s when I caught this bug to paint pictures. Now, twenty-seven years later, I have some stories to tell about my artistic journey. Read more...

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