The Meaning of Color – Art as Therapy

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

Uses: internal strength, power in career, self control

In the fashion industry, black equates to wealth and sophistication i.e. tuxedos, limousines, the little black dress, etc. The color is also used to portray authority, i.e. judge’s robes, priest’s attire, and a black belt in martial arts, but too much black can be oppressive.