Reading Symbols and Color Meanings

Hello again.

And once more, I have not updated my blog in awhile. I am still sorry to myself and subscribers, but in all fairness, I update my facebook page pretty regularly! I was flipping through a book of mine just now, and I have some input about color. Actually, I’m always still learning about art, and color all the time. Despite having graduated from art school, I’m still learning about color and value. It’s not that I didn’t learn the concepts and ideas, but there’s always something new that can be put into words or refreshers. And even then, I do not think that a course can teach us everything about one subject, though it is a start. With that, I’ll tell you that in my early life, I had no concept at all about color theory and I very much sucked at it. I can’t tell you how many times my siblings called me the 7 colored fish. I dressed with more than 2 colors and back in the late 90’s through mid 2000’s it was considered bad fashion… Quite frankly though, its fine to coordinate 7 colors, if done properly, I’ve seen an art teacher do this! I’ve always liked saturated colors — I think it is because I’ve spent a majority of my childhood with Seseme Street and kiddy shows. And of course, this is deliberate. Kids respond well to high intensity things. The reason why colors clash is because there is no harmony between the colors and they fight. Fighting is not compromise. No balance.

One way to harmonize colors is to “mute” them, which in terms of painting means putting in one color into the other. This may bring down the intensity of a color and turn it a little more greyer than before, but in effect, it harmonizes two seemingly clashing colors, like complimentary colors. There are usually many ways to do this, but always, it means adding one color into the other. I suppose it is like a relationship with a friend in a sense.

So Colorist by Shigenobu Kobayashi is a very technical and theoretical book on colors. I think graphic artists and Americans are more familiar with the The Color Index by Jim Krause.

It’s a very good book also on color, and is much more about CMYK and RGB and digital application/usage. This series spans to several other books.

The Colorist is more about teaching you how to be able to personalize and give meaning and names to colors. This is much more about the psychology of colors and about to reading the signs. I didn’t realize this until now, but this book completely touches on Semiotics through the usage of color.

semiotics |ˌsēmēˈätiks; ˌsemē-; ˌsemˌī-|
plural noun [treated as sing. ]
the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.

I also like to think about how much of colors actually can be (or are) symbols – like letters excepts colors are not written language. It can be used in many ways like how we use them to convey emotions. Not all colors can mean the same thing, but they can give us a general feeling. Sometimes, countries have differing meanings in regard to color, such as “white” in Asian culture equals death. However in Western culture, black is death. But I feel like in general, colors can be used with general meaning. White tends to be a color that is very respected, despite the meaning of “death.” Death and the afterlife are respected things!

Colors can mean different things. This concept really depends upon the intensity of a color, the hue, and saturation. For instance, the colors on the very left are very saturated, but as it goes down to “hard” it becomes darker in intensity and as the color goes up-right, the color has a lighter intensity.

This chart is meant to simplify and characterize certain color combinations or “color profiles.” I relooked at this area and saw that my usual colors are voilet-purple, grey/white, and greenish to blue. I’ve always liked cooler colors, and I have to agree that I tend to like that I would fall under “graceful,” “chic,” and “fashionable.” This is the image that I subconsciously try to convey through my choice of color, can be translated from my artworks, to the clothes that I wear. There is a purpose in our choices whether or not we realize this. First impressions are important!

This book also discusses how some regions/countries have color preferences that create a sort of “outer image” that speaks of its personality and “instills a sense of pride.” One example are northern towns, in Frankfurt German, France, Austria, have dark red earth towns that bring warmth. Seaside towns have areas that are blue-green, blue, to pale blues.

I quite like the example of how colors and can say exactly what the painter intended. Here is a page of examples of master paintings put into the color chart.
As for personal usage, I think it would be pretty interesting to try and identify with colors and see what categories we would fall in. This book outlines and helps you to figure this all out in depth and teaches you the ideas on how to express images with words using color.

I think that if I had to assess myself without taking the test and thinking about my favorite colors, I would fall under calm and hard, the middle to bottom region most of the time. When I’m not trying to seem like a hardass, I fall under middle/calm to soft, wearing plenty of white or pastel colors — ‘dreamy.’

My sister tends to like the colors brown and blue together, or at least last I checked. But she is a really sporty person, she likes wearing earth and warm colors, but at the same time she carries herself as ‘collected/cool’ too. I would classify her under “Wild/robust” and while refreshing and cool. Also, neat and clean.

My brother is tends to like blues and blacks. This does not surprise me as he would fall under “refreshing and hard.” He is a deep person, intellectual, and neat/clean. Also, it helps me that I’ve lived with them for almost 20+ years so I can say this is mostly accurate.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my little review on color. If you do use this chart, I’d love to know. Semiotics can be pretty interesting and understanding color psychology!



Filed under Art, Color, Random Talk, Reviews

4 responses to “Reading Symbols and Color Meanings

  1. Excuse me, would you please tell me what’s the name of the book? About the 4th picture in this article. ^_^

  2. Except for The Color Index, all the pages are examples I’ve taken from The Colorist book by Shigenoubu Kobayashi; its the cover image that comes right after The Color Index.

  3. Pingback: Bookmarks 10 april 2014 | ROSES and ORANGES

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