Thursday, July 23, 2009

Can Color Change Your Mood?

Do you feel like no matter what goes on around you, even if you're not in control you at least know what's going on? Well, you do and you don't. The senses we rely on to understand the world around us aren't always accurate. Shapes and colors manipulate how you perceive the world around you -- along with texture, temperature, scent, sound and more.

Think about bright colors and food. Vitamin rich fruits and vegetables are mostly colorful. Fast food restaurants don't serve colorful fruits and vegetables, so instead they put strong colors in the decor of the restaurant, the pictures on the menu and the packaging. Candy
 is almost always manipulated to be artificially brightly colored to appeal to the human impulse to eat brightly colored healthy food.

As obvious as the manipulation of food colors are, colors in our homes and business offices manipulate where our attention goes as we move through the space and how we feel about the space. A red door on a brown house focuses our attention on the door.

But don't feel that colors have one note, like the keys on a piano. Though many studies of colors have outcomes that insist yellow is happy or red is stimulating, those studies can only address that color in one environment. Colors interact with each other to create a melody line, just a
s the keys of the piano can combine to create a tune.

The bottom line is yes, color affects your mood. But don't get caught up in creating a rigid identity for every hue. The interaction of a color with other colors and the cultural viewpoint(s) of the people experiencing the colors is the ultimate arbitrator. Assigning one emotional response to a color is like insisting that each note of the musical scale has an immutable meaning. Like insisting that the note of middle C is always happy and F minor is always sad.

Pay attention to the interaction of colors and strive to be aware of the meanings you've assigned to colors and you will begin to use colors more creatively in all aspects of your life.

Photos: I took these photos in Oaxaca, Mexico. The gorgeous colors of flowers mixed into the salad greens and vegetables (it tasted as delicious as it looks) are mimicked in the colors of the candies and other sweets this woman was selling at her snack stand.

See my color consulting work for residences and public buildings on my website at

See examples of my color consulting portfolio and articles on my website. Call me to schedule a color consulting appointment in Bend, Oregon or a phone appointment if you don't live in Oregon.

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