Art as Therapy

  • September 4, 2018

Feeling blue. Seeing red. A silver lining. All of these phrases came about because of the meanings that can be attributed to colors. Maybe you’ve always wondered why certain colors appeal to you or often find their way into your artwork. As someone that creates mandalas for both art as well as therapy, I have found that taking the time to analyze my color choices has provided me with great insight on where I stand both mentally and spiritually.

Below is a quick reference guide you can use to gather more awareness from your own artwork or mandala designs. Each color discussed has a list of ‘meanings’ that you can pull from when trying to interpret your work along with a list of ‘uses’ that may help you choose colors for healing or as a form art therapy. While this list is far from exhaustive, it does tap into the core properties. If you want a more thorough explanation of color, I suggest you take a look at The Color Answer Book by Leatrice Eiesman.

RED Meanings: energy, passion, power, desire, intensity, anger

Uses: combat depression, increase appetite, attract attention, increase energy, achieve goals

In terms of energy, a person with a red aura (like most teenagers) are often found to be impulsive, stimulating, freedom seeking individuals. Red is used in fast food restaurants to make patrons eat quickly and to increase their appetites.

ORANGE Meanings: creativity, confidence, increased intuition, pleasure, adventure

Uses: increase creativity and inner dialogue, boost metabolism, elevate mood

As another warm color, orange also has some intensity and energy in its meaning. Color therapistsa use orange to open up a persons mind, allowing creative ideas to flow freely.

YELLOW Meanings: cheerful, bright, optimism, warm, open, innovative

Uses: increase mental clarity, release of problems, promote enjoyment
Not surprisingly, individuals with yellow auras are known for their sunny dispositions. Yellow crystals are often used sharpen memory and increase decision making skills.

GREEN Meanings: harmony, balance, growth, tradition, focus, jealousy

Uses: calm nerves, increase compassion, restore mental and emotional balance

Green falls basically in the middle of the color spectrum making balance its chief interpretation. Feng shui experts taut the healing and restorative powers of the color green, often using different shades to maximize its healing effects.

BLUE Meanings: truth, depth, loyalty, serenity, empathy

Uses: soothe, cleanse, induce calm and peaceful feelings

Artists and poets (and other sensitive individuals) are drawn to this color. Interior designers use blue in designing bedrooms because of its peaceful qualities. Dark blue is often used in uniforms because of the qualities of truth and respect the color induces.

PURPLE Meanings: spirituality, royalty, originality, imagination, mystery

Uses: meditation, inspiration, psychic healing, connection with higher power

Purple is associated with the crown chakra; the one that links us to the infinite consciousness, The Universe, and/or God. Not surprisingly, purple has a long history of use in a variety of religious ceremonies from the Christianity to Hinduism.

WHITE Meanings: reverence, purity, innocence, simplicity, cleanliness

Uses: purify the body and mind

The significance of white in a dream is believed to be its representation of a hope fulfilled or the attainment of spiritual enlightenment. White is a yin or healing color used in Estern cultures to induce calm.

BLACK Meanings: elegance, power, strength, achievement

Home – Room Color & Art

  • September 3, 2018

Several years ago, we invited some new acquaintances to the house for dinner. I think that they were very interested in seeing what artists lived like. You know how that goes; artists are out of the norm so naturally their home would reflect their weirdness. Well the dinner was a success but the comments during dinner were a little telling of our new acquaintances. Minerva (all names have been changed to protect the guilty), was of the opinion that all art had to be displayed on stark white walls with white ceilings to top it off. This, according to her emphasis, was akin to the 11th Commandant given to Moses. Not just any white though – bright white. Minerva took great umbrage at our living room walls being a semi-gloss red. We do have a mostly white ceiling but there is also a mural on the ceiling – with (shudder naked) people in it. Worse we also had artwork hanging on the red walls. Needless to say, there was no reciprocal dinner invitation, nor have we seen them since. Obviously, our tastes in home decor are, to be polite, dissimilar.

This is not a polemic on decor, but a reminder that there is more than one “right” way to use wall color to display art. Plain white is perfectly okay for some homes and temperaments. It gives a neutral backdrop so that the art can show through. Plain white does make your home look like an art gallery and a bit sterile (my opinion). On the other hand, lots of different deep rich color tones in one room can be a problem also. It is all a matter of taste, your personality, and how well you pull off the total effect.

There are some better slightly more adventurous solutions – without being totally daring – to make a room more inviting and comfortable. These neutral shades also show off more of you as an individual and can give a different feel to the art you purchased for the room.

Wall Color Choices

When choosing a white wall color; mix in a bit of a warm shade like red (very very little or you end up with pink) or a little yellow to warm the space up with. This will produce a subconscious feeling of energy, liveliness, or movement.

Another neutral shade to think about is a very light beige. Not coffee with cream – far lighter. Beige is a neutral color but not lifeless like stark white. This is also a color that promotes calm.

Think about picking a neutral shade such as a very pale gray – definitely not battleship gray. Make sure that the gray that you pick has some red in it. Grays can feel warm and enticing because of the warm red tints used in the paint. Grays can be cold (blue in the paint mixture) and less inviting. The bluer tones are good if you want to promote a feeling of quiet, calmness, thoughtfulness, etc. If the gray tint is to dark it will make your room(s) look dingy.


The ceilings are considerably easier though. White is usually called for but not just any white. To steal from a great source – Oprah – mix a slight tint of the wall color in the white for your ceiling. The slight tint used in the ceiling white will bring the room together wonderfully.

The hardest part is selecting a color for the walls. For that, input from your spouse/significant other is called for; but only if they live with you. If it is just you – do what feels right. After all this is just paint not brain surgery on your Mother.

Create Beautifully Colored Art

  • September 2, 2018

How should you color your character? You can start by just throwing a bunch of colors together and seeing what comes out of the experiment. This can be very fun and you’ll be surprised at what colors you can sometimes put together. But there are times when your picture just doesn’t seem to work and when the colors won’t just don’t look right. There are different techniques that artists can use to create various beautiful effects.

Color and lighting have a powerful effect on the mood of the image. The image can be made very soft and nature-like by using plenty of desaturated and earth colors. Colors can also be enhanced by combining them with opposite types. Bright colors seem even more bright when set against non-bright colors.

Some pictures look much more beautiful than the others not because of the lines, content or color but instead the arrangement of colors. Skilled artists don’t choose colors willy nilly but instead use a color wheel of complimentary colors. Red compliments green. Orange compliments purple. Orange compliments blue. For instance, green works well with red because green is a saturated color, while red is a very bright color. Use the right combination of colors and you will even be able to emphasize specific parts of the picture.

So what should you do when picking colors? You can start with one of three different strategies. You can try using colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. You can move along the wheel, adding different shades whenever you get to different parts of the character. Or, you could use colors that have opposite shades throughout the picture in order to create strong contrast. This can be done by picking two colors that are similar, setting them side-by-side (such as on a strand of hair) and then choosing some more radically different colors. Finally, you can choose to use only muted colors that create a very natural look.

Saturation can also be used in order to avoid overwhelming your viewers with color. This is difficult to describe without images, but images with fully saturated colors can become more difficult to make sense of than images that selectively saturate colors. For instance, if the main focus of an image is the sun, do not fill the sky with a whole bunch of intensely bright colors or else the picture will be far too overwhelming. Pick a dominant color and saturate it as much as you can.

When the element of light is added, colors can become more complex. Light sources create warm colors, which must then be contrasted with cool colors. Cool colors include blue, green and purple while warm are yellow, orange and red. These can be pitted against each other in order to create beautiful contrast.

Of course, these are all rules of thumb. Experiment with these techniques, but remember that they are not set in stone. If the image you are creating needs a certain combination of colors for some reason, throw them in and note the effects. The image might still look great.

Color, Art and Function

  • September 1, 2018

When referring to Interior design and home decor, the versatility of an Area Rug is often overlooked. These mini-masterpieces serve as artwork, have the ability to shape color, and add needed function in any home.

Color seems to be the most confounding element for most homeowners to master effectively. Color is not nearly as complex as it seems. The complexity seems to stem from the sheer magnitude of differing color, tones, hues and shades. We all know what our favorite colors are, yet when we try to pin that color down as a useable element of design, we are confronted by hundreds of choices in tone and hue. Most of us need a standard from which to work. This is where an area rug can have a principle role in helping us sort through the inexhaustible choices we face. If we would first choose an area rug with the colors we favor, the task of choosing color for other decor items seems to fall in place. The use of an area rug as a color reference will ground your space and limit your choices, which will make the task a lot less confusing. Your colors are already decided by the colors most prominent in your area rug.

The next function of area rugs are to add beauty and depth to a room by the utility of art. Patterns and perceptions in rug design are vast and often intriguing to the eye. As a painting adds drama an scope to a wall, an area rug is a work of art for your floor. Area rugs come in any and all varieties of patterns and designs to accommodate any style of decor imaginable. Therefore, no matter what style you are trying to achieve, from traditional to contemporary and everything in between, you will be able to find an area rug to artfully engage all who visit your space. I can only consider all the times that I did not even notice a well placed rug, until I had set in that room for a season. As your eye begins to draw downward from other treasured elements of decor, you finally notice the art that lies at your feet. Many of your guests will discover themselves drawn into the intricate beauty of a well placed piece of floor-art.

The final element is that which is fundamental to the existence of area rugs. They are utilitarian in design. They were originally conceived to provide a function. The first rugs in existence were likely simple in their utility. To provide a comfortable space to sleep, or to protect ones feet from the bare soil. Today we have a vast arena of uses for area rugs. From those that supply a place to wipe our feet off, to those that protect our original flooring investment. You can postpone refinishing or replacing an expensive flooring investment with the strategic placement of area rugs and mats. Your purposes could be as simple as providing a soft and clean space for your baby to crawl, or as complex as those we see highlighted in any decent interior design magazine or catalog. There are styles of rugs that will match each needed function in your home. From the ordinary to the sublime.

As you contemplate the design of any space in your home, give due diligence to the use of area rugs. Look beyond the simple utility, and see the unique benefit that only an area rug can provide. An artfully crafted Wool Area Rug will add the needed elements of color, art and function.