Lucky colors - color meanings - color coordination

Exploring Colors and Color Meanings to See how They Affect Us

By Charles L Harmon

mostly blue scene

Graffiti scene on a wall.

Color or colour (Commonwealth English) is the characteristic of human visual perception. It is described with names such as red, yellow, purple, green, orange, or blue, etc. This idea of color derives from the stimulation of cone cells in the human eye. Those cells are stimulated by the electromagnetic radiation in the spectrum of light. On this site we will be exploring colors and their meanings.

Exploring Colors: The Tip of the Iceberg about Colors


When viewed full size, this image contains about 16 million pixels, each corresponding to a different color on the full set of RGB colors. The human eye can distinguish about 10 million different colors. Photo by Marc Mongenet / CC BY-SA 2.5

Color categories and how we specify colors is due to the wavelength of light that is reflected from them. This reflection is governed by the object’s physical properties such as light absorption, emission spectra, etc.

By defining a color, various colors can be identified numerically by coordinates. Such coordinates are used in computer programs and to display colors on a computer or cellphone screen. Animals and insects are sensitive to colors to a varying degree.

For example honeybees and bumblebees for instance are sensitive to ultraviolet (an electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength from 10 nm to 400 nm, shorter than that of visible light but longer than X-rays).

However they are insensitive to the color red. The most complex color vision system in the animal kingdom has been found in stomatopods (such as the mantis shrimp) with up to 12 spectral receptor types.

color wheel

A 1908 color wheel with red, green, and violet “plus colors” and magenta, yellow, and cyan blue “minus colors”



The Names and Associations of Colors

Colors vary in several different ways. These include hue (shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet), saturation, brightness, and gloss. Some color words are derived from the name of an object of that color, such as “orange” or “salmon”, while others are abstract words, like “red”, “green”, etc.

In the 1969 study Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution, Brent Berlin and Paul Kay describe a pattern in naming “basic” colors like “red” or “blue” but not variations of those basic colors. All languages that have two “basic” color names distinguish dark/cool colors from bright/warm colors.

The next colors to be distinguished are usually red and then yellow or green. All languages with six “basic” colors include black, white, red, green, blue, and yellow. The pattern holds up to a set of twelve: black, gray, white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, and azure (distinct from blue in Russian and Italian, but not English).

The field of color psychology attempts to identify the effects of color on human emotion and activity. Chromotherapy is a form of alternative medicine that’s attributed to various Eastern traditions.

In different countries and cultures colors have different associations. Different colors have been demonstrated to have effects on cognition. For example, researchers at the University of Linz in Austria demonstrated that the color red significantly decreases cognitive functioning in men.

human color wheel

Human Color Wheel based on the hue and light detected on human skins, after Harbisson (2004-2009). Photo by Wayneford US / CC BY-SA 3.0

Color Wheel

A color wheel is an abstract illustrative organization of color hues around a circle. It shows the relationships between primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors etc.

Some sources use the terms color wheel and color circle interchangeably; however, one term or the other may be more prevalent in certain fields. For instance, some reserve the term color wheel for mechanical rotating devices, such as color tops or filter wheels. Others classify various color wheels as color disc, color chart, and color scale varieties.

Artists typically use red, yellow, and blue primaries (RYB color model) arranged at three equally spaced points around their color wheel. Printers and others who use modern subtractive color methods and terminology use magenta, yellow, and cyan as subtractive primaries. Intermediate and interior points of color wheels and circles represent color mixtures.

In a paint or subtractive color wheel, the “center of gravity” is usually black, representing all colors of light being absorbed. In a color circle, on the other hand, the center is white or gray, indicating a mixture of different wavelengths of light.

The arrangement of colors around the color circle is often considered to be in correspondence with the wavelengths of light, as opposed to hues. Modern color circles include the purples, however, between red and violet. Color scientists and psychologists often use the additive primaries, red, green and blue colors. They often refer to their arrangement around a circle as a color circle as opposed to a color wheel.

pink and gray

A beautiful shade of pink, but what can you say about this graffiti?

A Brief Touch on the Science and Physics of Color

Electromagnetic radiation is characterized by its wavelength (or frequency) and its intensity. When the wavelength is within the visible spectrum, which is the range of wavelengths humans can perceive, it is known as “visible light”. That spectrum is approximately from 390 nm to 700 nm, with a nanometer (American spelling) being a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one billionth of a metre or meter (0.000000001 m).

color spectrumMost light sources emit light at many different wavelengths; a source’s spectrum is a distribution giving its intensity at each wavelength. The science of color is sometimes called chromatics, colorimetry, or simply color science.

It includes the perception of color by the human eye and brain. It also includes the origin of color in materials, color theory in art, and the physics of electromagnetic radiation in the visible range (what is commonly call light).

Electromagnetic radiation is characterized by its wavelength (or frequency) and its intensity. When the wavelength is within the visible spectrum (the range of wavelengths humans can perceive, approximately from 390 nm to 700 nm), it is known as “visible light”.

graffiti in purples

A woman graffiti drawing

Colors Affect us Physically and Emotionally

Colors play a very vital role in our lives. Colors affect us in many ways, both spiritually as well as mentally. They also affect us physically and emotionally. Colors are the major mood changers in our lives. Colors manifest the visual aspects of moods. Let’s do some exploring colors below.

Colors are also associated with memories, people, places and things. There is both the psychological as well as the physical aspect of colors. We can see colors as well as hear them because the colors have wavelengths but we cannot hear them as it is not within our audible range.

dark colors

What kind of emotions and thoughts does this graffiti image create for you?

Each Color Depicts a Different and Specific Meaning

There are lots of colors but each color depicts a different and specific meaning. It has its own unique vibration frequency. Moreover, each color is related to a different musical note.  This can be seen from the fact that the seven spectrum colors are equivalent to the seven musical notes.

colorful scenery

Colors make us sometimes active and sometimes productive. Some colors tend to make us glamorous while others make us amorous.

To make changes through colors on something has effect on everything in and around that thing. For example, if the color of a room is changed, it has immediate effect on each and everything in that room.

The same principle is applied on any other thing like business institutes, website colors or the colors that you wear everyday. Different colors play different roles in changing our insight and moods.

Exploring Colors

It is said that wearing red or pink on a day when you feel low at once lightens up your spirit. Red is also the color for signifying power. Wearing earth tones like greens and browns make the people around you feel comfortable and at ease with you.

If someone wants to enhance or stimulate ideas into the minds of the other people, then the person should wear blue or some bright yellow sunny colors. Adding some red to these colors will make the other person want to act upon those ideas.

graffiti in color

Lots of colors painted on what?

Studies Reveal that each of us Emanate a Color in our Aura

The positive side of the color yellow is that it signifies joy and brightness. However the negative aspect of this color is that it may lead you to criticism and laziness. The color purple stands for royalty and sophistication. Green depicts nature and freshness as well as hope and growth. Meanwhile black means being dramatic as well as classy.

beautiful landscape colors

The negative side of black indicates evil, death and coldness. The color red has mixed reaction of love-hate vibrations. It is a sign of danger and warning too. This can be seen in the animals too like the bugs flash the reddish parts of their body as a warning signal to their enemies.

red and black

Graffiti making a statement.

Studies reveal that personally each of us emanate a color in our aura. Some of us behave as walking rainbows while a few others act as black holes. But these colors that we emanate keep on changing according our mood swings.

Exploring Colors

Colors act as non verbal communication influencing the various aspects of one’s life. It is believed that the color expressions are so efficient that they are much better in expressing than the words spoken by mouth.
exploring blue

The Color Blue is the Color of Music Too

A most popular color is blue. It’s a bright, happy, colorful color. However, it’s often associated with feelings, such as feeling blue. In that same vein as feeling blue there is a well-known Blues genre and musical form.

b.b. King

Blues legend B.B. King with his guitar, “Lucille”, following a performance at the White House.

It was originated by African Americans in the Deep South of the United States around the end of the 19th century.

Blues music incorporated spirituals, work songs, shouts, chants, and rhymed narrative ballads.

As a genre, blues is also characterized by its lyrics, bass lines, and instrumentation.

The origins of the blues are also closely related to the religious music of the Afro-American community, the spirituals.

The first publication of blues sheet music was in 1908. Blues has since evolved.

It first was from unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of slaves. Now it includes a wide variety of styles and subgenres.

The Reputation and Popularity of the Blues

Like jazz, rock and roll, heavy metal, hip hop music, rap, country music, and other styles, blues has been accused of being the “devil’s music.”

It was the trigger of inciting violence and other poor behavior.

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton playing live at the Hard Rock Calling concert on June 28, 2008 in Hyde Park, London. Photo by Majvdl / CC BY-SA 3.0

In the early 20th century, the blues was considered disreputable, especially as white audiences began listening to the blues during the 1920s.

In the 1950s, soul music by Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and James Brown used gospel and blues music elements.

exploring colorsPossibly the most visible example of the blues style of music in the late 20th century was in 1980.

Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi released the film The Blues Brothers. The film drew many of the biggest living influencers of Rhythm and blues together.

Well-known musicians and singers such as Ray Charles, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, and John Lee Hooker were in the movie.

While not as successful, 1998 brought a sequel, Blues Brothers 2000. However, it featured a much larger number of blues artists.

It included B.B. King, Bo Diddley, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Charlie Musselwhite, Jimmie Vaughan, and Jeff Baxter.
feng shui

Exploring Colors Associated with Feng shui and its Five Elements

Feng shui or fengshui is a Chinese philosophical system that harmonizes people with the surrounding environment. The term feng shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English.

Feng shui bagua

Feng shui bagua with colors, elements, shapes, directions, lucky rat. Photo by Shandi Greve Penrod / CC BY-SA 3.0

Feng shui is one of the Five Arts of Chinese Metaphysics.

There is no scientific evidence to replicable that feng shui’s mystical claims are real.

The scientific community considers it to be pseudoscience. Historically, feng shui was widely used to orient buildings.

Quite often important spiritual structures such as tombs were oriented using Feng shiu.

However, it was also used for orienting dwellings and other structures in an auspicious manner.

An auspicious site could be determined, depending on the particular style of feng shui being used. By reference to local features such as bodies of water, stars, or a compass, the best orientation was determined using Feng shui.

Good Luck Rituals

Using Feng Shui Basic Elements Associated Colors

In using Feng shui, color is probably the easiest way to use the five elements of Feng shui to infuse more harmony into your home. In order to make use of Feng shui you need to understand the basics of the feng shui energy map of your home. See the color wheel image.

gold statueThe five basic elements are important in order to achieve best results with your feng shui use of color. Color is not one of the five basic elements of Feng shui, but colors are associated with each of those elements.

Here are the five feng shui correspondence color elements:

  1. Fire: Red, Strong Yellow, Orange, Purple, Pink
  2. Earth: Light Yellow, Sandy/Earthy, Light Brown
  3. Wood: Green, Brown
  4. Water: Blue, Black
  5. Metal: White, Gray

Once you know the bagua of your home (or office), the rest of feng shui work is relatively easy. That’s assuming you follow the basics.

exploring fengshuiUse the colors associated with the elements to bring more of the fengshui energy into your home or office. An example feng shui color wheel is shown.

You can delve much further into feng shui and consider each room in the house and color of various items. Here is a short beginner’s guide.

Feng shui was suppressed in mainland China during the state-imposed Cultural Revolution of the 1960s but since then has regained popularity.

many colors

Some Thought Provoking Quotes about Colors

“White is associated with purity because the entire spectrum is functioning in unity. White is a healing color. White is appropriate for weddings because the unity of male and female symbolizes the unity of allness.” ― Tae Yun Kim

“Your life will be colourful if you just add colours to your life! It is your own decisions that will determine to have a miserable or a marvellous life!”   ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Colours are nature gone wild.”   ― Raheel Farooq

“Walking through darkness with thoughts full of colors”.”   ― Prajakta Mhadnak

“Colors are vibrating light energies, each “color ray” produces a sound that affects matter.”   ― Jacqueline Ripstein

rubit's cubeI’ve been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors is black.   ― Pierre Auguste Renoir

“For to be Happy in Life, choose Self the Colors of Life.”   ― Jan Jansen

“I want to paint the rest of my days with the best colors.”   ― Debasish Mridha

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”   ― Rabindranath Tagore

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”   ― Alice Walker

“So dawn goes down today… Nothing gold can stay.”   — Robert Frost

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.”   ― John Ruskin

“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. ”   ― Oscar Wilde

“Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? no. Just as one can never learn how to paint.”   ― Pablo Picasso

“The sky is already purple; the first few stars have appeared, suddenly, as if someone had thrown a handful of silver across the edge of the world.”   ― Alice Hoffman

colorful easter egge

Here’s what Some Think and Say about Certain Colors

  • Silver іѕ a роwеrful соlоr whісh can bring аbоut mental, physical and еmоtіоnаl harmony.
  • Thе соlоr aqua soothes your ѕоul and сrеаtеѕ аn іnѕtаnt ѕеnѕе оf hоmе аnd bеlоngіng fоr you.
  • Thе color рurрlе relates tо thе іmаgіnаtіоn аnd ѕріrіtuаlіtу аnd аllоwѕ uѕ tо gеt іn tоuсh with our deepest thoughts.
  • Orange саn set ѕеvеrаl mооdѕ іnсludіng cheerfulness, wеlсоmіng, dуnаmіс and аѕѕеrtіvе.
  • Lаvеndеr ѕуmbоlіzеѕ рurіtу, devotion аnd lоvе.
  • red and brown

  • Yеllоw can ѕtіmulаtе thе body’s functions, it may іnсrеаѕе hеаrt rate and can аlѕо іnсrеаѕе blооd рrеѕѕurе аnd mеtаbоlіѕm.
  • Brоwn саn stimulate the арреtіtе, it rерrеѕеntѕ ѕtеаdfаѕtnеѕѕ, ѕіmрlісіtу, frіеndlіnеѕѕ, dереndаbіlіtу аnd health.
  • Red has been associated as the color of blood, roses, love, war, passion; overall, a vital life force.
  • Gold is the color of riches and lavishness, and is considered to bring success.
  • Black has been the color of mystery, the unknown, the unconscious, it also represents the fears, the mourning and destruction of an individual or circumstances.
  • graffiti colors

    Graffiti colors - do these colors evoke meaning too?

  • The color White projects purity, and cleanliness.
  • Green is the color of life and abundance, it signifies Mother Nature and the environment plus it is symbolic of fertility, rebirth, money, wealth, brilliance, and growth.
  • The color blue is a spiritual color; in dreams can be a sign of an important spiritual message, it stands for love and devotion.

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