Psychological and symbolic color use in painting - LT4

Collection of artwork that strongly illustrates the use of symbolic and psychological color.

The colors used in this painting by Vincent Van Gogh create a psychological feeling. The trunks of the trees are shaded in blue to create for a feeling of a night time sadness but this along with the black figure of the man, swept me away in fear as well. However, the sensation of fear altered to a strange calm and confusion when looking at the white, yellow, and green flowers surrounding the two figures. Perhaps, the woman with the golden hair recognized the figure disguised in black as someone she knows who is not in fact a total stranger. Still, in art black is often used to depict death or mystery so the man in black could be quietly meeting with her to deliver some bad news. Altogether, Van Gogh's use of psychological color within this painting triggered many different emotional effects for me. I mostly sensed fear, confusion, and melancholy but the colors in this composition could easily also trigger memories of the loss of a loved one. - Gabriela Castro-Reyes
In this painting of Elder Daughters, Bella and Hanna, the symbolic use of color begins with the green parrot in the cage. Parrots are known for especially being able to mimic the human language and can also be seen as symbols of good manner, which makes for an appropriate expression of the two young middle-class woman. One of the sisters is posing in a peach gown standing along side her other sister who appears in a green gown watching over the parrot. Looking back at the caged bird, the parrot is green which symbolizes life. The caged bird acts as a metaphor to describe that the two unmarried woman are also trapped in their unhappy lives sort of waiting on their new lives to commence. The sister in a seated position is, like the parrot, also illustrated in green and looks over the bird sort of longing and hoping for this "new life." While the other sister is standing and looking ahead sort of towards the future but with a rather blunt expression planted upon her face. She is dressed in peach symbolizing sympathy for the misfortune of not having this "life" her and her sister so deeply long for. - Gabriela Castro-Reyes
At first sight, is difficult to appreciate the meaning of color projected in Reflection by Robert Thompson. The title of this piece is well supported by the contrast in the colors. The light colors are enhanced by the dark tones inthe background. The color beige in the outlined figures create a sense of insipidness, in contrast the blend of pink and red reflected in the mirror and outstanding figures behind it, depict a sense of passion. Purple is also used in this piece, which is a color artistically used to “expand awareness” and to represent “imagination and dreams, while spiritually calming the emotions”1. Personally, I relate the color purple with compassion and kindness. The use of green represents a sense of strength, ground or certainty, as if is giving support or a foundation to the indecisive souls created by the reflections. The psychological use of color in this piece puts emphasis on reflection, about who we all are as individuals and how we feel about ourselves. BY YIMSI D. TERRERO 1* Extracted from
In history class we learned the meaning of the American flag: white represents purity, red represents courage and valor, and blue represents justice. In Lincoln Writing Emancipation Proclamation by Daviid Gilmour Blythe, the presence of the flag is further praised by the red chair, Lincoln’s blue coat resting on another piece of red furniture on the corner of the picture, and his white shirt. The fact that he is wearing white helps the viewer understand the distinctive pureness that should be of a leader. The red chair I believe portrays a sense of forte, and the blue jacket is to represent righteousness. The use of these symbolical colors in this painting, substantiate the denotation of the US flag's significance. BY YIMSI TERRERO
In the painting, Seascape with a Squall Coming Up by Joseph Mallord William Turner, there is a psychological transition that takes place. On the right side towards the background of the painting, there are shades of light blue and white, which represent tranquility and calmness. The bright white in the center, and top right corner of the painting, seem to reflect the brightness and warmth of the sunshine coming from behind the clouds. There is a peaceful, eerie feeling, like the “calm before the storm”. In contrast, on the left side and in the foreground of the painting, the black and shades of gray bring about a sense of gloom, despair and panic. The white and lighter shades of gray in the lower left of the painting and across the foreground accentuate the roughness of the waves and bring about an angry, tempestuous roller coaster of dark emotions. ~ Andrea Sweeten
Although The Rue Montorgueil in Paris. Celebration of 30 June 1878 by Claude Monet is blurred, due to Monet’s Impressionist style, there is a definite Parisian presence in the painting. The three main colors that resonate throughout this painting are blue, white and red, which are symbolic of the tricolor banner of France. According to the official website of France, located at, the flag's colors represent the “colors of the King (white) and the City of Paris (blue and red)” at the time of the French Revolution. ~Andrea Sweeten
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