Wondering about colour attraction…

Autumn is my favourite season.  The main reason for this choice: the colours.  But what attracts each of us to some colours and away from others?  Psychologists seem to think it’s a bit of nature, a bit of nurture.  Perhaps colours that indicate health and vitality will attract us more than those associated with rotting or unclean things.  In his article posted on the Psychology Today website R. Douglas Fields Ph.D. uses the example of colourings in food.  Would we use tomato ketchup if it were it’s natural faded brown colour rather than bright red?  Even thinking logically, knowing the bright red colour is down to added colours and the brown alternative is perfectly healthy, most people would still feel more comfortable opting for the red sauce.  But brown isn’t always bad – think chocolate milkshake…!    And of course we can associate some colours with happy places/times and others not.  Blue is a colour that is popular in all cultures (perhaps because of it’s association with calm weather) but there are some reactions to colours that are more culture specific.  R. Douglas Fields concludes,

Colors influence object preferences in many situations in modern life, for example house paint, clothes, and furniture.  Our individual preference for a particular color associated with these objects (a living room wall or an automobile) will be produced and reinforced by the positive feedback associated with the object and the color it has.  Everyone has a somewhat different life experience, and so as people increasingly experience pleasure in something they bought in a particular color, they will tend to chose similar objects in the future with the same color.  This leads to a self perpetuating situation.

I had a ‘self-perpetuating’ colour experience earlier this week: A visit to Sheffield Park in Sussex, a National Trust garden renowned for spectacular Autumn colour.




My husband took these photos.  Colour everywhere – looking up through branches and leaves to the blue, blue sky; looking across the lakes to the wonderful variety of colour and shape provided by the shrubs and trees; looking down at the carpets of fallen leaves against the green grass.  Whatever psychologists might try and understand by our reactions to colour I think it is impossible not to be drawn to the Creator of colour when we are confronted by such beauty. And it’s natural to praise Him when we see what has been created and great to take time to be thankful as we acknowledge that it is all sustained by Him too (Hebrews 1:1-3).

I suspect the quilts we are attracted to in books and exhibitions are often made in the colours we prefer.

One of my first quilts - couldn't be a more Autumnal colourway!
One of my first quilts – couldn’t be a more Autumnal colourway!


'Where's Collie?' - aquilt I finished earlier this month without straying too far out of my colour comfort zone!
‘Where’s Collie?’ – a quilt I finished earlier this month without straying too far out of my colour comfort zone!

But it is good to occasionally move out of our colour comfort zones, a request from a friend or family member for a quilt in their prefered colours can be an opportunity to discover more about colour combinations.  To help out there is always the artists colour wheel to turn to.  I found a great source of free downloadable colour wheels, information and advice (and a bit of colour psychology too) at www.dreamhomedecorating.com.

Well!  Time for me to get back to gazing out the window at the colours in my little garden!


Find the full colour preference article here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-new-brain/201104/why-we-prefer-certain-colors


0 thoughts on “Wondering about colour attraction…

  1. HI Allison, Thanks for commenting on my blog. It’s always nice to know we’re not talking to ourselves all the time ! The pictures your husband took are very good – love those colors. The bed quilt is nice too – can’t beat those fall colors.

  2. This was an interesting post. Now I’ll have to look into my memory to see if I can figure out why there are some colors I avoid. Hmmm. I love your nine-patch!


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