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brightness and softness of colors

Jim Nelson

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Can someone please help me out :)


I've learned that bright colors are vibrant and energetic while pastel colors are calm and soothing. I've also learned that blues and greens are calming too. But what if you have a bright blue or a bight green? Would the convey a calming or energetic feeling?


Same thing goes for warm colors. I've learned that they are energetic and cheerful but what if we have a pastel red or a pastel orange. Would they convey calmness or energy?


This is what's confusing to me. I know that in films it's all based on the context and that you can use any color to convey any emotion as long as you use that color several times. But here I'm talking about photos.




Thanks for your help :)

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Bright colours other than red can have energy, just google some Cuban art and compare these to say impressionist painting, many of which have softer colours (although not all of them by any means). You have to interpret these yourself and give your own personal feelings about the colours, otherwise it just becomes an academic exercise.

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Well, you know, here's my thinking. Colors run from Cold to HOT, and once you get into the cool and warm range you start really associating emotion with them. Now, a cool room- blue lets say-- could be calming or it could be depressing, and even in a photograph it depends on context, such as what else is going on. No colors really exist in a vacumn, even a singular color on a canvass is still seen with colors around it (be it in an art museum and/or in a book.) and as such you'll interpret it differently.

So let's say you have a pastel orange; well where is it? it is surrounded by vibrant red, or white? or black? blue perhaps? It won't just exist by itself and those things co-existing with it will help us understand it. And this, of course, gives rise to the whole either/or-ness of some colors, how a blue, the same blue, in one instant can be cool and soothing, and the next sad and cold, or liberating and freeing. It is still the same blue, often in conjunction with other colors, seen at a different time (for you), or from a different person.


Wanna have some fun, try this, pick a color and some people, Show each of them the same color in private and ask they write how they feel about it. See what comes up. Or, just take a peep at people in a hardware store at the pain chips section, see what colors they go towards, and if you're up to it, ask where they'll be painting. I had the benefit of actually working, for a time, in a Home Depot as a paint mixer-- literally I made colors for people, mixed up the formulas, and while the cans were spinning i'd often have the chance to hear where they'd be painting (often as they'd ask what finish is best for 'em), so I got a bit of color experience there, quite useful. So, try it, see how friends and family react to colors-- and if they look at you like your nuts, just buy 'em a beer ;)

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