nonrepresentational art sepia flora

How to Use Colors to Explore your Feelings

Use colors to explore what you are feeling. The use of colors through artistic creations can help you gain a better perspective over your emotions.

It is overwhelming to look for perfection. Don’t push yourself all the time to have things figured out. What you need is a path of self-exploration. Accept that things are not perfect all the time and that you can constantly work on your wisdom and tranquility. All the great stoic philosophers worked constantly, and they were incredibly wise men. Just as your body needs to work out, so does your mind.

First, you have to acknowledge your emotions, accept things as they are, and don’t try to suppress your feelings. As you admit your feelings, you can work towards a solution. If you don’t know why you are feeling a certain way, you can use art to explore your emotions.

Using Art, you can figure out why you are feeling a certain way. You can also be more in touch with your intuition by using your observational skills. Look at this video that highlights the way art helps you be more attentive.

The use of colors is a tool for self-exploration. There are two main ways you can do this:

  • As a nonrepresentational form of art.
  • Using color meanings to communicate.

Here read about the use of colors to communicate. In this post, let’s savor the use of nonrepresentational art and the use of colors to explore our feelings.

use colors to explore
Color Buckets by Sepia Flora

Nonrepresentational form of art

Nonrepresentational art usually has no meaning and is disconnected from reality. Its purpose is to explore, to free the mind from figurative objects. Here you can read the meaning of nonrepresentational art more in-depth.

The difference between nonrepresentational art and abstract art is that the latter usually is a distortion of something. Whereas, nonrepresentational art is not symbolic.

This exercise aims to use the feelings you acknowledge to produce something visually. It is for you to use the tools you have at hand to express freely. Don’t put labels on the colors, just grab the one you want and don’t think about the choices. Don’t try to name your feelings, just feel, paint, and observe.

Exercise: connect with yourself

The exercise consists of creating paintings without a guide, without having a plan in particular. Begin painting by choosing the color you want, not the one you “should” be using. Paint and use the colors to explore yourself. Let your feelings guide you in this process.

You are savoring the process itself, of being on your own without being judgemental. You will be using art to help you free your mind from distress and wondering.

This is why painting is a great form of therapy. Paint freely with the color or colors you have chosen and paint anything you want. Whether it’s something figurative or not, it doesn’t matter. Again, don’t think about the outcome but the process itself. Your soul is guiding you, and you are letting it speak through the paper using the colors of your choice.

Below is a creation I did with the use of only one color. Also, look at this list of unicolor paintings. It is diverting and shows you that artists may also use their talent for their reflection.

nonrepresentational art sepia flora
Nonrepresentational Art by Sepia Flora

Explanation: why use color to explore

There’s no doubt that color is a powerful tool to evoke feelings. But is it color a two-way form of expression every time?

That is to say, if you pick a color, for example, black, does it mean necessarily that you are protective? Or you just picked it because you like it or it reminds you of your dog?

Consider for example the paintings shown below. The first painting is during the summer and desperate for water. The second painting is during the winter admiring the snow.

preconceptions of colors
Drinking Water Summer vs Winter by Sepia Flora

When asked, most people associate the first one with feeling happy and the second painting with being sad. In reality, they are the opposite!

Visual compositions don’t represent every time the state of mind. They are many times subjective and only the person who created them knows exactly what they mean. Well, and sometimes art therapists know too.

It is a personal therapy that many of us choose to incorporate every day. The creations are for yourself. They are merely an expression.

When you paint something, the color is not necessarily associated with a preconceived feeling. Meaning, black is not sad and red happy, as someone might usually assume.


What your choice of colors might mean

After painting freely you might have a better look at your feelings. Maybe during the process, you grabbed a color and realized why you did it. If not, read further and you might find answers.

Colors’ associations

Looking at your painting associate the colors you chose with memories. Do you use to like that color when you were little? Was that the color of your first car?

By trying to think of your past, you can associate that particular color to a feeling. For example, you chose purple. You used to have a purple car, and you felt safe inside your car. Hence, you can associate purple to calmness.

This study states the following:

Color enhances the effects of perceptual priming.

Dennis E. Dal Mas et al.

Priming is when choices are influenced by past events. If you want to read further in the subject, this is a great book.

You can grasp more into your feelings with this exercise. Subconsciously, you can also start figuring out answers because you are doing something oriented towards your well being. Start developing a growth mindset.

priming and colors
Subconscious Learns Colors by Sepia Flora

Analyze your surroundings and the things you see daily. For example, the banners you see every day or things in your house. Also, consider your cultural background. Which colors people in your country use for ceremonies or special events?

The exercise aims to activate long term memory associations. Through this connection, try to define the feelings you can’t put into words. The colors you used to explore were the perfect way to evoke those feelings.

What the process can say about you

After finishing the painting, try to recall all the thoughts you had when you were painting. What came to your mind when you chose a color? Did you associate the water of the glass to something else? How easily was to choose a color?

You can make yourself a lot of questions about the process itself. You were trying not to think about your decisions, and because of that, other thoughts may have arisen. For example, did you feel uncomfortable? Did you think about your job and the way it matters to you? Did you think about your family or friends?

Just put the date and your signature

You have also the option to make a series of your discovery.

stamp paintings create series
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

It is possible that you don’t find an association, or that doing so is boring or painful. If you are feeling discouraged by the analysis, you can always come to it back later. Give the exercise some time, and repeat it many times. You might have a glimpse into the process due to associations.

Cherish the experience

In conclusion, this exercise is not about the outcome, it’s about your exploration. It’s about learning about yourself and the things you like or want to learn from. The exercise of using colors to explore, helps you be mindful for a while and gives you another perspective.

use colors to explore feelings
Paint on the Floor by Sepia Flora

Do you have another way to evoke your feelings? What do you think of the use of art for this purpose?
Leave the comments below.

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