How Colorful Art Can Transform Your Space

All praise to the cone – not the ice cream cone, not the cone of silence, but the photoreceptor structure in the human eye called the cone. Your eye also contains photoreceptors called rods which technically are more sensitive to light. But we owe our ability to perceive color to three different types of cone cells that respond to varying wavelengths of light.

There's no denying the Art deco elegance of a black-and-white color scheme, not to mention the smoky subtlety of those 50 shades of gray. But neurologists and artists agree that color evokes emotion, so we use color in Framed Canvas Art to create desirable and evocative environments.

Rainbow Soul Tree by Ashvin Harrison

A confetti or multicolored effect canvas always looks and feels like a party! Choose a piece of art that combines warm tones of red, orange, coral, and hot pink with splashes of cool, complementary blue-green tones for a hint of upbeat energy.

A word about complementary colors: artists work with a color wheel, where the spectrum is arranged around a central point. Colors that oppose one another on the wheel – yellow-orange vs. blue-violet, for example – are considered a harmonious or complementary pairing. Using complementary colors creates a wholesome feeling of balanced contrast.

Even Flow by Randy Hibberd

Another way that color affects our mood is through its saturation. Bright, opaque pops of color have a glossy, almost commercial look, like the finish on the shell of a candy-coated chocolate or a new car. Subtler effects are achieved when color is transparent and translucent, allowing light to pass through it. More than a dozen colors play against a white surface like shards of glass in the piece above. Arranged horizontally, moving from sheer, sweet, untroubled pastels into more complex, even heated, deep dark blue, red, and orange tones. Like a conversation or a monologue within the artist's head, the thought process moves on, backtracking once to touch on a black splinter of paint, then calming into sea-washed shades and earth-toned hues.

Map #5 by Mark Ashkenazi

Create a sophisticated look with a piece of artwork that combines more than one color principle. This lighthearted composition begins with an impressionistic background that's organic and soft. The clean, sharp outlines of the butterflies in varying sizes create a modern, playful effect, especially in an enclosed patio or children's room.

Flower Show II by Julia Purinton

Flowers have been a favorite subject of painters for centuries. Almost everyone owns a print of van Gogh's vibrant sunflowers or Monet's tranquil waterlilies at least once in a lifetime. But not all florals are alike. Consider a more academic approach for places where concentration and etiquette rule, such as your study, office, or formal dining area. For example, this piece features detailed depictions of exotic species like passionflowers and proteas against a black background. The colors glow with life against the inky-black field, giving a subtle elegance to the piece. This refined composition's style harkens back to great still-life paintings from the Renaissance and Victorian botanical studies.

Paris Red Car by Michal Bednarek

The defiance of an arrest-me-red vintage automobile against a black-and-white Parisian skyline guarantees a visual joyride. The brilliance of the red tone against the black and white background seems almost old-fashioned at first glance—something which cinephiles and antique lovers will find especially delightful for its vintage charm. An ideal piece for an adrenalin junkie with a need for speed.

Just as color can incite passion and even panic. Think of the bright red cape used in a bullfight. Even though bulls don't see color, it responds to the snapping and twirling of the matador's short red cape. Unlike the color-blind bull, the crowd is driven into a frothing frenzy by the provocation of the color red, heightening the performance's drama until the very end.

Untitled by Laura Van Horne

This modern abstract piece has the opposite effect to the matador's feverish display. Stacked bars of neutral colors create an orderly arrangement, while the white background gives it a trim, logical tone. A few slices of acidic lime green, tropical turquoise, tangerine, and pineapple yellow brighten the stack, supplying flashes of spontaneous emotion in an otherwise cerebral display.


How you decide to play with color in your space depends on many things.

First off, many homes have factory-setting white or off-white walls to create a clean, spacious effect. If this is the case in your home, you truly have no constraints. Choose artworks with lots of white, bone, and ivory elements splashed with reflective metallic to make your space feel airy and innocent. For a high-energy and youthful vibe, go with more saturated colors. Last but certainly not least, go for deep, plush colors reminiscent of Renaissance velvets. Midnight blues, scarlets, purples, burnt golds, and chocolates create a peaceful and refined atmosphere.

If your walls are painted any shade other than beige, gray, or white, play with the color wheel and have fun! Bear in mind that placing a light-colored artwork on a dark wall will minimize its effect, making it seem like your canvas has shrunk. For example, a light-colored or pastel work of art set against an oxblood-red wall will all but disappear, swallowed up by the dramatic color surrounding it. A strong background calls for an equally strong work of art, so look for a piece of framed canvas art that picks up the drama and depth of that sultry color story.

Similarly, if your walls are a sweet, dusty lilac, neon-bright or dark artwork may feel out of place. A more delicate color palette with pink, purple and green hues an elegant and refreshing atmosphere.

When using color strategically to enhance your room, there's only one simple rule to keep in mind: do whatever makes sense for you. Our decor tips aren't hard and fast rules but rather suggestions for giving your space a cohesive and beautiful design. Once you start thinking about decorating your home with color, there are hundreds of possibilities, so have fun experimenting to see what you like. As far as we're concerned, the world is your oyster! So go forth and gather all the beautiful and colorful canvas art that your heart desires!

In Other News