Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Guest Post: Uses of Color Theory in Day-to-Day Life

Uses of Color Theory in Day-to-Day Life
by Aleksandre McMenamin

What is color theory?

There are many different factors of everyday life that have the ability to affect us on a psychological level. Usually, it’s a combination of many things that determine our emotional disposition, and thus is hard to track. However, few aesthetic principles really change and manipulate the way we feel more so than color. The concept of how color affects us in this way is called color theory. This idea dates all the way back to the 15th century, in the writings of renowned artists and scholars like Leonardo Da Vinci and Leone Battista Alberti. However, the term “color theory” was not officially coined until the year 1704, in Isaac Newton’s influential essay on the way that we are affected by our visual sense, Optiks. Since then, plenty of research has been conducted on the effect of color. Here’s a few ways that color theory affects us in day-to-day life...

Our attire

One of the most obvious ways that human beings are able to express themselves out in the world is in the way that they dress themselves. Our clothes are the most readily available way to project our internal feelings about ourselves in an external fashion. And so, while there may be a variety of certain shapes and styles that people prefer, the way that most people are able to accomplish this expression is usually with the color of their wardrobe. Some people prefer to use more muted colors, for more of a low-key presence. While other people use bright colors to stand out and show a more outgoing personality. Even in professional environments, such as hospitals, scrubs are usually a light blue color, because it is a relaxing color that soothes patients.

Modeling our homes
Our homes are, in a lot of cases, the heart of our lives. Our hearths and living spaces are supposed to be a place of comfort that we return to after having to deal with the pressures of the rest of the world. Because of this, when it comes to decorating and designing our homes, color has a huge role to play. The color of walls when you enter a house will have a huge impact on your perception of the entire house. Some people prefer to keep white walls, in order to make a blank canvas that they can cover with memories in the form of pictures and trinkets. Other people like to use lighter primary colors, to spice the place up with a bit more personality However, while most colors on the walls are usually low key, as they are meant to be in the background, the primary elements in a room will often be brighter. For example, red furniture can bring elegance to a room, while orange brings out more of a creative, eccentric feeling. The mixing and matching of foreground and background elements is essentially color theory at work.


People use makeup to bring out what they consider to be their best features. In this process, color theory is an absolutely integral element. The type of blush and concealer that people use is incredibly dependent on the color of their skin, and how best to match it. While this may seem obvious, it is an example of how we even think about color theory when we don’t realize it. Another example of this is how people will use certain colors of eyeshadow to bring out their natural eye color, usually something on the opposite side of the color wheel. Lipstick, as well, is designed to match the eyes and skin, as well as easily apply to certain colors of lips. Essentially, many people live with an example of color theory smack-dab on their faces.


Are you into photography? Video? Painting? Or any other visual art form? If yes, regardless of if it is just a hobby, these are still technically art forms that are dependent on technique. A huge part of this technique is the use and management of color. The arrangement of colors in a medium like photography can guide the viewer’s eye to important subjects in the frame, which is the job of the photographer. This is an essential part of the viewing experience. The photography and film industries are both incredibly reliant on this part of production. Any big film production will even have several people who are managing the use of color in the movie. For more information on how color theory gets used in professional visual industries, check out this blog post about color design in commercial filmmaking.

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