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How To Describe Colour In Art?


How To Describe Colour In Art?

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Colour is an important element of art; it allows the artist to express emotions, convey messages and evoke certain moods. Describing colour in art can be a difficult task, but with the right techniques and tips, one can be successful in conveying the tone and emotion associated with an artwork. This article outlines various methods on how to accurately describe colour in art in order to capture its nuances and complexity.


Colour plays a vital role in art, and understanding how to describe colour is essential for creating meaningful and impactful artwork. In this article we will explore the different ways of describing colour in art, ranging from basic descriptions to more complex analysis of colour theory.

The Basics

When describing colour in art, it is important to start with the basics. This includes identifying the hue, value and saturation of a colour. Hue refers to a specific colour on the spectrum, such as red or blue. Value refers to how light or dark a colour is, while saturation refers to how intense or bright a colour appears.

Using these three elements, you can start to create more detailed descriptions of colours in your artwork. For example, instead of simply saying ‘blue’, you could say ‘a dark, saturated shade of blue’. This gives much more information about the specific shade you are using.

Mood and Emotion

Colour can be used to convey mood and emotion in art. Different colours are associated with different emotions; for example warm colours such as red and orange tend to evoke feelings of passion and excitement, while cool blues can create a sense of calmness or sadness.

When describing your use of colour in an artwork, consider how it contributes to the overall mood or emotion you are trying to convey. For example if you are creating an artwork about love or passion, using warm reds and oranges could help create a sense of intensity and desire.

Colour Theory

To truly understand how to describe colours in art requires an understanding of colour theory. This involves learning about concepts such as complementary colours (colours that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel), analogous colours (colours that sit next each other on the colour wheel), and colour harmony.

Consider the use of complimentary colours in Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’. The bright, contrasting shades of yellow and blue create a sense of energy and motion in the painting. By understanding the principles of colour theory, you can create more impactful and meaningful artworks.


Describing colour in art requires a combination of basic knowledge about hue, value and saturation, an understanding of how colour can evoke emotion and mood, and a grasp of more complex concepts such as colour theory. By using descriptive language and careful analysis, you can create artworks that are rich with meaning, depth and beauty.

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