Can color “theory” heal? If healing means balancing, compensating, and otherwise enhancing the quality of a space, object, light source, or even our bodies, then I believe it can.
Our April 17, 2011 Color Muze on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, “muzed” about how color can be used to adjust our perception of sound, or the lack of it, and thus balance or “heal” an environment through our sense of seeing, and its potential effect on our sense of hearing. This is an aspect of the phenomenon of “Synesthesia”, or “Unity of the Senses”, as IACC-NA (International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers-North America) lecturer, Frank H. Mahnke, terms it. The idea being that our perception of color can associate with our perception of another sense, such as hearing.
Warm colors (from red to yellow-green on the color wheel), associate with loudness.
Cool colors (from green to red-violet on the color wheel) associate with quietness.
This is reflected in our language, the way we talk about our environment, or even our feelings, in terms of color. I am not sure I have ever heard anyone refer to a quiet (or cool) red, though anything is possible! On the contrary, I remember my mother describing feelings of anger as “Seeing red.”
By comparison, people may speak of a quieting their emotions when they enter a room in which a “cool” blue predominates.
It is interesting to view the two together…(albeit different hues and values of red and blue).
Thus if we wish to compensate for noise problems in a space, we can add more “cooling” colors such as blues, blue greens, perhaps even a cool blue-violet. Warm to hot colors such a saturated reds, and “hot” oranges or yellows will tend to exacerbate our sense of being in a noisy environment, which can be significant in any setting where concentration is important.
To relieve a “too-quiet” or tomb-like atmosphere in a room, and add energy, warmer (and lighter) colors may be applied, such as yellow-green, golden-yellow, reds, oranges or “hot” purples (red-violets).
It is fascinating, and fun to see the sound associations the Henrich Frieling, Director of the Institute of Color Psychology assigns to a range of colors:
Red– loud, trumpet
Pink – soft, delicate
Orange – loud, major key
Brown – dark, deep minor key
Gold-Yellow – fanfare, major key
Yellow – shrill, major key
Yellow-Green – high-pitched, minor key
Green – muffled when dull, shrill when saturated
Green-Blue – soft
Blue – distant, flute to violin
Ultramarine – dark, deep, more minor key
Violet – sad, deep, minor key
Light-Purple – weak, restrained
Crimson – powerful, stately
It really begs the question…what might a musician, singer, or music therapist have to say about this? What about Sharry Edwards, pioneer in the study of Human BioAcoustic Biology…might she have a “color link” to her work and theories on healing the body through sound?
Perhaps a subject for another post…
Have you used color to compensate for too much noise, or not enough sound in your own or other spaces? Have you felt the effect of color healing in regards to your, or your Clients’ auditory environment? What is YOUR experience with Synesthesia, in regards to the relationship of sight to sound, the visual to the audible?
If you feel so inspired, please share your insights with us here. We love to hear from you.
Remember, we are all seeking the balance in this thing called Life, together.
Here’s wishing you healing wherever you need it most, in your Life right here, right now. Bravo!
Debra Disman’s passion is to translate her Client’s inner vision into concrete visual form. She is principal of ArtiFactory Studio, a decorative painting company based in San Francisco, which provides custom decorative painting, murals, and color consultation to customers from all backgrounds and walks of life. She is an Associate member of the International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers and serves as the Color Muze for blog talk radio’s “Artistically Speaking Radio”. To learn more please visit ArtiFactoryStudio. You can also connect with Debra on TWITTER, FACEBOOK, or LINKED IN,, or on her blog, “Artissima“.