Color and emotion of Interior Decorating
The effects of color upon our emotional states are indubitable. As to the degree in which these effects are due on the one hand to association of ideas and on the other to differences in the rapidity of light-ray vibrations it is impossible in the light of our present knowledge to speak definitely. Red is the color of fire and of blood, as violet is the color of shadows, and it is inconceivable that the mind could remain unaffected by these associations in the presence of either color. On the other hand, red lies at one end of the spectrum and violet at the other, and it is equally inconceivable that the brain, as a physical organism, could remain unaffected by the enormously different rates of vibration. In any case the matter is of scientific interest only. It is enough for the decorator to know that the various hues possess distinctive emotional qualities; that the colors vary in emotional value not only with hue, but also with purity and luminosity; and that through proper selection of the hues, proper emphasis upon purity or neutrality and upon high or low tones, he can-with the convergent use of line and form-express in his rooms any motive that appeals to his artistic judgment as fitting.
The colors are first of all divisible into two groups, the warm and the cold. Warm colors are those in which red or yellow predominate; cold colors those in which blue predominates. The warm colors tend to impart warmth to any composition in which they are employed; they cause surfaces covered with them to appear to advance or come forward in plane; they are suggestive of impetuous or instinctive action as opposed to calculative or reflective action; they are cheerful, vivacious, joyous, and relatively stimulating and exciting. The cool colors on the other hand tend to impart coldness to any composition in which they are employed; they cause surfaces covered with them to appear to retreat in plane; they are suggestive of reflective as opposed to instinctive action; they are calm, sober and serious, and relatively tranquillizing and depressing. The hues vary in warmth and coldness directly with their purity. Vermilion is warmer than maroon or pink, and ultramarine is colder than indigo or azure.
In addition to these group characteristics each of the primary and binary hues possesses a distinctive emotional quality, which it tends to impart to its compounds and to express in any decorative composition in which it plays a part. Although these emotional qualities were understood and employed by the great colorists of the Renaissance, they have always been regarded by the layman as matters of fancy. They were, however, confirmed scientifically during the last century by Fere, Binet, Wundt and other investigators.
Yellow, the color of light and hence of life, is the most brilliant, cheerful and exultant of the colors.
Red, the color of fire and of blood, is the warmest, most vigorous and most exciting of the colors.
Blue, the color of the starlit sky and of deep and still waters, and hence of profundity and vastness and illimitable spaces, is the coldest and the most tranquil of the colors.
Used in decoration, yellow is sunny, liveable and inspiriting; red is suggestive of richness, warmth, hospitality and splendour; blue of calmness, tranquillity and dignity.
Considered emotionally the three primaries, yellow, red and blue, seem not only to symbolize but also to express the cycle of human life-the exultant life of its morning, the battle and passion of its noon, the tranquillity and at last the coldness of its night. In some intuitive way man seems always to have felt this, for the three hues are constantly found together in primitive art. Certain colorists of the Renaissance reduced the feeling to a formula, and held that no scheme of color could be emotionally satisfactory unless all three of the primaries appeared in it.