Using Color to Express the Heart of God

Knowing How Colors Affect Emotions Helps Artists Convey Deeper Meanings in Their Artwork

Swirly and Colorful Cross
The Lord often uses symbolism in the form of colors, concepts and numbers to convey a deeper meaning in His messages than what is self-evident. The Bible is rich with imagery and signs woven through its pages. Some of that symbolism is easy to figure out while some is hard to understand.

If one studies the Bible, they will find a rainbow array of color splashed throughout. Through the ages, many of the colors found in the Bible have had meanings attached to them. For instance, purple is associated with royalty. In Biblical times, purple fabric was rare, reserved only for prominent figures. Using purple or violet in a work of art can then signify the Kingship of Jesus or the Royalty of Jesus or the Priesthood.

Another commonly understood color is red. Red is the color of the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. Because of this, it has become symbolic of love -- sacrificial love and passion. Red also represents purification (our sins are forgiven through the red blood), consuming fire or courage. Red is also known as the boldest battle color.

Blue can mean heaven or represent the Holy Spirit. It also can stand for justice or being set apart for God's purposes. Green represents growth or wholeness, new life or refreshing. Silver tells of the refining process, while gold points to God's glory.

Some of the meanings behind colors are obvious; white can represent purity, while black signifies sin. Many of the meanings have mingled with the Bible and our own culture to end up where they are. There is, however, a third way colors have wound up with the meanings they currently hold: our emotional response.

There have been studies done that observe emotional response to color. Marketers have learned this and use it to their advantage, picking colors that excite people or get consumer attention. On some level, people may not even be aware of how color affects them. Emotions associated with color have much to do with culture, age, gender and personal history. Memories often have colors associated with them that render the color pleasant or not depending on the personal experience. These may or may not be something the conscious mind focuses on, but the emotional part of a person pays attention.

Another way that color evokes emotion is through the rules of color. Some colors are 'warm' and some are 'cool'. There are complimentary colors and homogenous colors, vibrant colors and pale ones. Learning the characteristics of a color helps the artist use it to its maximum potential.

How all these different angles come together for a Christian artist starts with some general understanding; get to know the colors of the Bible and what they historically stand for. Pay attention to colors in society today and how people respond to them. Learn how the colors in a palette enhance and compliment or repel each other. Think about how color will speak to those looking at the finished piece. Do those colors combine to speak something about the heart of God?

Even if the viewer is completely unaware of why the piece of art is affecting them and how color plays into it, the knowledgeable artist will learn to use color to his or her advantage when portraying the truths of God in their work. In a visual culture, learning to speak through color will have a tremendous impact on the viewer and more effectively convey the heart of God.

Written by: Kerrie Hubbard