Color, the visible and the invisible

Trained as a color consultant, I studied color through many facets, focused on color design for the interior and exterior of buildings with the intention to advise, and to simplify color choices for people. I give workshops with the intention to share my experiences. For the same reason I’m sharing this writing with you, to lift some of the veil on this phenomenon.

Every moment of our lives we are surrounded by color, it’s everywhere. It is ‘a common thing’ and we are used to its appearance, it might be even taken for granted. We easily can forget about its beauty and the impact it has on our lives emotionally. It is however one of our senses and to my opinion it deserves more attention.

The importance of color is often underestimated. As an example, colors can stimulate appetite and create a feeling of heat or cold. But then, what is color?

Color, a complex phenomenon in a nutshell

Color is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, like radio waves. There are many forms of waves in the electromagnetic spectrum but light is the only part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible for the human eye. And color is reflected light. And as it is visible, that might explain why we experience it as so normal compared to the invisible forces of other waves like radio waves.

The human eye recognizes between 250,000 and 2.5 million colors. Our t.v. screens proceeds million different colors and we are able to see all of them.

A condition for perceiving color is the presence of light. Without light we see no color. We need natural light such as the sun or artificial light sources. The way we see color is influenced by the light, depending on the time of day, time of year, and also the location related to the equator influences our perception of color.

Color belongs to the most ‘ordinary’ things of everyday life. Color is, in addition to form, an important tool in recognizing objects. Color and shape are in fact inseparable. Everything has color and is therefore so self-evident that we scarcely think about it. Color is an emotion that comes from within, different for each one of us. But is seeing the same as perception? We can ask ourselves, ‘does everyone see every color equally?’ Who knows? The point is that in color psychology it doesn’t matter what we think when we look at something, but the effect that colors have on us is important.

As it is part of the spectrum, color is vibration and therefore energy that enters our body. The effect is achieved not only by what we see but also by what we feel. Sometimes we ‘need’ the calmness of blue and another time we want the passion of red, and why? It is part of our senses. We eat what we like so we prefer the colors that speak to us for one reason or another. When we look at a certain color, it only takes a split of a second to evoke an impression and to feel an emotion. For the biggest part, that happens unconsciously.

Talking about color is always difficult, just try to describe a certain color, our vocabulary is inadequate to name them all.


The eye becomes tired of looking at one color constantly. Our brain automatically ‘asks’ for a complementary color. That is called an after image.

To show you how we experience this, you can try the following. Below you can see a turquoise square. As we look/stare at this surface at least 30 seconds, and then turn our eye to a white surface, an stare at this too, the complementary color will appear. I won’t tell you in advance which color it is :). Just try, it is not a riddle but a fact and I mention this just for fun. I’m curious what you will see.

Color is not only a physical phenomenon of wavelengths, but also individual observations with feelings and emotions. After all, they are formed in the brain, through our medium, the eyes. Color affects our mood and feelings. Colors can be stimulating, relaxing or exciting! Color not only makes an impression on our psyche but also directly on our body. You can be confronted with a color and think literally; It doesn’t make me feel good’. Color is therefore linked to the senses, they can feel hard and bright, but also smooth and soft. Every color has an emotional effect on us which is not only different for each color but it also varies from person to person. Our whole life we make color choices, and mostly we don’t think about it. To start in the morning when getting up and looking at our wardrobe. Packaging in food stores, the flowers that we buy, we look critically at the color of our fruits and our vegetables etc..

Nowadays, I express my passion for color through painting, illustrating and art journaling. Keeping a visual art journal is an important tool for me; to document my daily observations and perceptions, to express how I feel and see the world around me.

I hope, that the above, will contribute to a little piece of awareness as it comes to color in general. So, color your heart happy 🙂