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Principles of Design When Painting

I found this article in a psychology magazine (yes, magazines still exist.)

I am only re-iterating the colour part. Take it or leave it, do what you will with it, I just found it interesting.

2500 people, half men and half women were surveyed on various colour subjects in 2021. Here’s what I got from it: 

When asked for colour preferences this is the order that came out. 68% of people liked warm colours over cool colours.

This is the order of colours preferred.

  1. Red  

  2. Blue

  3. Violet

  4. Green

  5. Orange

  6. Yellow

Yellow was least favourite. I find this curious as I hear this all the time… “Yellow paintings don’t sell!”  Perhaps it’s true, but I have sold boatloads of fall paintings and they have loads of yellow in them, not to mention a few canola fields.

Red was most popular with women, and men preferred blue.

Women were far more sensitive to colour than the men, and at the risk of sounding sexist,  I think that goes without saying - no duh… Just try to mix up the colours of your wife’s throw pillows and you’ll pay…

70% of people preferred bright colours in small areas, over large areas of bright colour.  I totally believe this, as bright colours can wear the eye down. They get tiresome to look at and almost agitating if they're really bright and big.

78% liked greyed or light colours in large areas, over larger areas with more colour.  Again I believe this to be true, as a smaller amount of bright colour will say vastly more than large amounts of the same colour taken the area it is surrounded by. Here is an example:

Take a room full of stunningly handsome men. A Brad Pitt, a couple of George Clooneys, me, and a few Chris Hemsworths. Now throw in a few Arnold Schwartzeneggers and nothing happens. Still a room full of good lookers.

Now, throw in a Jerry Lewis (‘Hello ladies!’) and who stands out? Jerry as he is the anomaly. There’s that the old saying again - “Less is More.”

Combinations of colour came out in the following order of popularity: 

  1. Contrasting or complementary colours with large warm to smaller cool areas were preferred by most.

  2. Harmonious or analogous colour combos that leaned again to the warm side of the colour range.

  3. Monochromatic or various values of one colour.  

So, I would be curious to know what that they were looking at. I mean, if it was just colour swatches, pshawy… boring… monochromatic would be last. I doubt they were looking at paintings. Monochromatic paintings are near the top of my list. I LOVE them. Their simplicity is just awe-inspiring.

In summary, This colour balance thing says that contrast is more interesting than harmony which is more interesting than variations. I believe all are interesting and can work if they’re put into good design.

Thats it kiddies,

short and sweet

Your friend in art,


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Thanks for the very informative article- and the bits of humor were appreciated, too😂


Jan 19

Colour is "the Kingdom of Doug". Thanks for this opinion piece, Doug. I am surprised that you are a fan of monochromatic paintings - maybe I am just not at that point of colour sophistication.

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