Art 1 – Color in nature Due 12/3


Color combinations in nature

Look at the video of the chameleon, the cuttle fish, and the article about color combinations in nature.

These examples are based on the natural drive to camouflage for protection or to attract for reproduction.

Can color also be emotional in effect?  What kinds of emotions can it convey?

What are you trying to convey with your color choices (besides light and dark) in the distortion grid?

If you could borrow any ideas from natural colors, which would you choose for your  distorted face project?  Explain why.

Share a site which has interesting color effects.

In your sketchbook, collect 3-5  small examples of interesting color combinations from nature (attach a sample or a magazine swatch, illustrating it.)

Do a 1 hour drawing of anything which uses the color combinations from one of your samples. You may do any style of drawing but it should be in color. Mark your time on the back of the page.


30 responses »

  1. Colour, in my opinion, can convey emotion. For example if you see an aquamarine colour or a darkish blue, you might feel calmer than if you see a vibrant red or orange. The colour purple and yellow, I think, are a mix between mellow and personal attachment/passion towards something.

    I haven’t decided which colours to use yet, but I was going to go for something between a violet and a green. I am in part copying some of the blue and lighter blue feathers for an idea in my distorted face project, partially because those are among my favourite colours.

    I found this site very interesting : The pictures of each of the different rooms, even *before* you read the description, shows how colour can evoke different emotions.

    • I like the link you posted but I wonder if I could relax in the red livingroom. It would make me feel creative. I reminds me of the sets in the movie The Royal Tannenbaums. They had very colorful rooms – even the closet!

      • Yes I actually think I might use this link to decide what colour I want to paint my room when I remodel it.. I haven’t seen that movie but I’ll look into it!

  2. I believe color can evoke emotion and have an effect on us. For example, the Red Room downtown, the fact that it and most all its upholstery are red definitely do bring up different feelings and give a very different atmosphere than say, a green room, where I’d probably feel more meditative and tranquil as opposed to a red room where I’d feel a little irritable, egotistical, but still kind of energized. It makes me feel like an Indian Mogul of old.
    Now if I were to say just colors on their own, a yellow would make me feel constantly energized and warm while a blue would make me feel more calm and serene, but still get me thinking a little bit.

    In what I’d be trying to convey with my horse-man grid would be a certain level of ironic sophisticatedness and regality, i.e. black and god;purple.

    If I had to borrow from nature I’d go with the green jeweltones of a rainforest.


    • The symbolic associations will contribute to the meaning. Also keep in mind how colors can reinforce the dimension with the warm colors popping out towards the viewer and cool colors receding, to give greater depth

  3. I really like how the chameleon changed colors and the emotion it brought up was curiosity. I felt like this because, honestly, who else has ever wondered how the heck they do that. I felt the cuddle-fish was more of a scared emotion. I have never looked close enough to see how beautiful nature is, i guess sometimes you just have to stop to smell the roses or in this case stop to smell the chameleon…
    Furthermore, I found this flickr gallery quite cool

    • The visuals in nature are phenomenal, aren’t they. It is always well worth the time to stop to appreciate color and design! I like the link – the colors are so intense and probably Photoshopped but beautiful nonetheless.

  4. Blue grey and dark colors convey a sad or more serious emotion. Bright colors like yellow a happy or excited feel. In the distortion grid I am trying to convey the emotion of the person I am drawing and the feeling of the picture but not the realistic colors of the photograph. I like the colors in nature this time of year when the sky is a light grey, the grass is bright green and all of the trees still have yellow and orange leaves. The website I found explains the different effects of color in art.

    • I love the colors on a foggy day too because they always look more intense when the atmosphere is grey. This is a nice link with good contrasts. Have you seen Rothko’s work in person. The large scale of most of them allows the color to really work their magic and they visually “vibrate” because of the size and the layering of the colors.

  5. In my opinion, different color convey many kinds of emotion, which can really affect human. There are cool colors such as blue, green and grey which make people feel calm and sad; there are warm colors like red, yellow and brown which cause enthusiasm feelings. In my distortion grid, I’ll try to use more cool colors, which cause calm and fit to the picture I use.

    If I borrow some ideas from nature, I will probably use the color style of cuttle fish. Although it has amazing speed of changing color, the surface of cuttle is always harmonious with environment.

    I found a website which shows some interesting effect of colors.

  6. Yes color con convey emotion. We often associate specific colors with certain moods. For instance, we associate red with passion or anger, or blue with sadness or tranquility. Depending on the facial expression of our character, we might choose to use colors with different emotional connotations. I would like to use vibrant colors in stark contrast with very dark color. I found this website, which shows how colors can influence a person in advertising.

  7. Color can definitely convey emotion. Even in pictures that don’t involve people. For instance, if one were to draw a blue clock, it might give the feeling of time being slow and depressing, as apposed to a red clock which might indicate urgency. I was thinking about using dark reds and purples for my distortion because I have a dislike for the person I’m drawing. I think I might borrow some shades from the cuttle fish because I think they make him look a little bit angry. I thought this page had some interesting color combinations in clothes.

  8. Color can definitely convey emotion, not just in pictures but in real life. When people are embarrassed or angry, some blush a light red, when some people are scared or tense, some peoples faces turn a chalky white, when some people are sad and have been crying, there faces get blotchy. I, like ecilA haven’t decided what color to use in my distortion yet. If I could chose colors from nature I would use the dark unforgiving grey of large wet granite boulders. I feel that color perfectly expresses the emotional state of my subject. has some interesting colors.

  9. I think color can convey an emotion. Sometimes colors will help people understand how they feel because sometimes they can’t say what they feel but the color in a way can. When I see blue I think of sadness and when I see red I think of anger. I don’t know what color I am going to use in my distortion yet but if I had to right now I would pick violets and blues becuase the picture is very dark and those colors would help me show that. I would use the gray in the sky before a storm because it shows darkness and that something is coming.

  10. I think color can only convey simple and basic emotions. Color can evoke or help evoke a variety of emotions, but not subtle emotional complexities.

    In my distortion grid I’m trying to express the contrasting emotions someone can feel, even at the same time.

    If I were going to borrow from nature, I’d borrow the over-the-top colors of birds of paradise. had some neat color combinations.

  11. Color does convey emotion. It also AFFECTS emotion. I think that art is so worldwide and relatable because of color, mainly. Even the absence of color means something in a work of art. You could see it and know straight away that the overall tone of that piece is solemn and serious. When I went to the open studios, there was a man who took photographs in black and white so that he could add whimsical, bright, fuzzy colors of his own. It instantly gave the viewers an almost surreal feel, like they were looking at a dream.
    The advice I would give myself is to look at my photo that I’m drawing and try to figure out it’s “tone of voice.” Then I would look at the morphed version, and see if the “tone of voice” differs in that one. I would use those to gauge what the hypothetical emotion of my piece might be, and choose my colors accordingly.
    A site that I know with beautiful use of color in contrast to a white background is

  12. Color can be emotional in its different shades and colors, demonstrating each of the different facets of our world. Sharper, brighter colors evoke happier emotions while duller colors represent sadder ones. Color has been used for symbolism in literature, ways to convey the story and its themes, and this applies to art as well. The use of color can be used in ways to manipulate readers and viewers of art into seeing a swirl of different aspects of the world. In my distortion, I aim for cool colors mostly because of my fascination with them since I was the child, the way they reminded me of the ocean, which was and still is my favorite force of nature, some otherworldly alien planet concealed with blues, greens and grays. The ocean itself is not an animal, but it was the inspiration for my color choices.

  13. Emotions can be found in any shade of any color. For example a more pungent color could be upset or angry, were a dull or gloomy color could be more melancholy, or when someone is embarrassed their face plushes red. In my distortion grid I would probably choice colors that are relevant to the face that I am using in this project. I would probably purple, blue, green, and red. If I were pick a color from nature for my project I would choose the orange of pink sunset of a grass green. This link is a cool color combination and theory site It’s all about the color wheel, primary, secondary and tertiary colors, different shades etc.

  14. Yes, color definitely conveys emotion. A single color, a combination of colors, or a lack of color all contribute to the mood of a work of art. For instance, an icy blue swirled through a haze of white could convey a sense of bleakness.

    In my grid distortion, I’m planning on a angsty look in which I will use washed-out vibrant colors contrasted with a more neutral tone. I especially like the colors on this leopard gecko here and might use them in my work:

    The images of food on this site have some nice color combinations:

  15. I think color can absolutely be an emotional effect, in fact most of the time it is. It’s one of the most powerful ways we have of expressing emotion. I actually did my first science project on how color effects emotions! Darker colors can represent sadness, mystery, confusion or anything else, just as vivid colors can express liveliness or youth. In art, I think color can be intrepreted very differnt. There’s so many ways color can express emotion. In my distortion grid I used a lot of bright colors because I wanted to show the curioustiy and playfullness in the distorted imgage. In black and white, it’s a lot more sad and serious looking. One of my favorite things in nature that you see a lot, that I would incorporate in my image, is the prevelance of colors opposite each other on the color wheel. Often in the wild, on frogs for example, you see red and green displayed brightly as a warning sign sometimes. The two colors play off each other, making each look even more intense.
    A website that has a lot of different information on color in adverstising, in therapy, having to do with emotions etc. is:

  16. Colors can definitely have an emotional connotation. In our society, black may have a goth or dark/evil vibe to it while white seems more pure. Other colors such as red could represent things like hell or they could represent roses and other types of flowers. I think different color combinations also have different feelings to them. Different societies and cultures may also associate colors with different feelings and ideas than others. In America, green may be associated with nature, but in other societies, it could be connected to bugs which kill crops and therefore have a negative connotation.

    For the distortion, I’m thinking about using some retro colors since the photo is fairly old. I will probably use orange and red along with black and white.

  17. In my view, I believe colors can affect people’s emotions easily. So there are many business people catch people’s this emotion by using the colors. For example, many restaurants use the light yellow or orange, and also they use the soft lights. In my opinion, the light yellow and orange make people feel more hungry, let people have an enormous appetite. And what’s more, the lights in soft colors make the food look like more delicious. Besides, different colors could convey different feelings. Like cool colors(blue, black, purple) always represent the sadness, and it can make people calm down. And about warm colors (red, yellow, orange) show the warmness and happiness to people.

    And as for my distorted face project, I decide to use more warm colors. Because what I gonna draw is a very beautiful woman. And she makes me feel sweetness and warmness. Also, there is a saying that “women is made by water”. And water is a soft thing, so it just reminds me the warm colors. Also, as a girl, I prefer pink, yellow, red and so on. Therefore, I think I will let warm colors as the main colors in my project.

    I found a site:–When-to-Use-Cool-and-Warm-Hues

    • Good point about the use of colors in restaurants – it makes a big difference. I like the colors in the room on the site you chose but I don’t know anyone brave enough to live with such high energy schemes!

  18. It’s fairly obvious that color can have an emotional effect. Whether because of an evolutionary or cultural bias, humans respond fairly uniformly to color: blue = sad/melancholy, black = scary/evil, etc. Of course there are infinite subtleties to a colors effect corresponding to the infinite shades of colors and their context within other colors and the piece as a whole. I would argue that baseline response to color is universal and not dependent upon culture. You can see this in young kids who would point to a lighter version of a picture as being happier than a darker one. A few notable exceptions are picked up in adolescence, however, with the introduction of symbolic and culturally specific color combinations such as flags.

    In my distortion grid I want to convey a macabre tone which is as intense and fascinating as it is disturbing. I’ve noticed that nature tends to have either warm or cool colors, generally not mixing the two (seen here: ) This leads to less contrast and more of a gradient. I might want to borrow this effect and then draw attention to my portrait’s eyes by using a single contrasting color.

    • Frogs! And some poisonous ones are very colorful! Your argument for a universality of color is is early 20th century modernist ideal but it is out of favor now. There are some cultural uses to color that counter that idea for example: red for weddings in china and white for funerals versus white for weddings in the west and black for funerals. And certainly when you begin to approach the notion of beauty through color there is a lot of cultural difference, as well as individual differences, due to personality and experience. But I do agree, we much have some commonalities of response that come from nature. As we grow more and more technological, will that change?

  19. Colors have a clear emotional effect. Blue’s tend to be calming, red’s disruptive, yellow’s exciting. Talented artists use specific colors to help enhance what they are trying to convey. They utilize specific colors to create textures that pop off the page. In my distortion grid, I want to use off-base colors, for lack of a better term. Colors that are themselves distortions of normal colors–moldy yellows and phlegmy greens. This is to make the figure i’m drawing more caricature-like.

  20. Colors in my opinion represent yourself and the emotion you are feeling. Bright colors tend to be hot and dark colors like blue and green tend to be cool. in my grid I want to do completely contrasting colors that make each other pop but also make them look in a way kind of bad and hard to look at.

  21. I believe that colors can represent emotion. The “temperature”, meaning the relative position in the spectrum, of a given color affects your opinion and immediate emotion. For example, blue inspires serenity, red inspires anger, black inspires sorrow, etc. I tried to incorporate many colors into my distortion to have a balance of emotion, or perhaps a clash of emotion, I’m still not quite sure which. I think if I could borrow natural color patterns for my distortion, I would chose Autumn Woodsy colors, because they’re all soft warm colors that to me are calming, and go very well together. The site I found,, has several human generated color combos, as well as many random combos and also random single colors.

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