Get to Know your Colors: Orange

Hello friends! So continuing in this color psychology trend, the next color we’re going to take a closer look at is orange!

The Color Orange

Orange is a warm, happy color.  It combines the fierce warmth and passion of red with the cheery, happy notes of yellow.  It’s an optimistic, vibrant color, and can easily overpower other more neutral colors if used too strongly.

Color Wheel Location

Orange is a secondary color, resulting from the combination of the primary colors red and yellow. It’s located at the top-right of the color wheel, right in between the two primaries that compose it.  It’s complimentary colour is blue, located directly across the wheel from orange in the cool half of the colour wheel.

Mixing Orange

While the basic knowledge of how to make orange is common, putting it into useful practise can be a bit difficult.  Orange has the tendancy to be very vibrant, and can be overpowering.  Taking Cadmium red and Cadmium yellow seems like a great idea to make a bright, beautiful, pure, warm orange, but the orange that results from this pairing is super bright and saturated.  This is great if that’s what you’re going for, but when using orange in a home or a landscape painting, this almost neon colour can be very hard on the eyes and distracting.

Mixing various peaches and other duller versions of orange allow us to enjoy the pretty colour and the feelings it gives without being overpowered. A touch of complimentary blue added to orange will start to tone it down, and adding a touch of white will start directing orange to the more peachy, pastel direction.

Taking a red with a blue undertone (instead of an orange undertone like Cadmium red) and mixing it with Cadmium yellow (a yellow with a warm orange undertone) will also create a toned-down version of orange, as the blue is already present in the undertones of the red (Quinocridone red is a good example of this, as it’s still a bright color in itself).

mixing acrylic paint orange

The Psychology of Orange

Orange is an uplifting, positive colour.  It promotes adventure, risk-taking, confidence, and independance (have you ever done that color personalty test? The Orange-type people are the ones who love the outdoors and want to sky-dive and swim with sharks all that crazy stuff…I’m not an Orange, can you tell, lol?).

Orange is also an appetitie stimulator, most likely because it contains red within it.  But instead of a sultry, primal cue to feel hungry, orange creates a happy, social setting for eating.  Kitchens containing orange keep people in them, happily chatting and eating for a long period of time.  People like to hang out around orange, it’s a sub-conscious thing, but if your kitchen area is orange and the dining room is a neutral colour, the party will be in your kitchen, so you might as well put the chip bowls out on the counters instead of the dining table.

…also don’t have an orange kitchen if you want to lose weight.

Orange tends to be an under-appreciated colour, it’s linked with youthfulness and thus people tend to think of it as a kid’s colour.  Orange promotes cheerfulness, being social, creativity, and confidence.  It can have negative traits, however, like being over-bearing, or overly proud.

The key to using orange is to know where you want to use it, and use the appropriate tones. Orange in a painting can be a warm, happy addition, just make sure it’s not jarring to the eyes and taking away from the other focal points in the image.  The same goes for a room: orange accents can be the perfect touch, just don’t paint all four walls bright orange. That will hurt your eyes.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in more, here’s a list of articles I’ve written concerning the colour orange:

How to Mix Orange

How to Mix Common Paint Colours

Color Bias

Colour Psychology

Thanks for reading, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3


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