Lets talk about the Colour RED

Lets talk about the Colour RED

Red is my favourite colour, both in my life generally as well as in my art. It’s a colour that can have two distinctly different meanings, and is considered to be the strongest and most vibrant of all colours. Red conjures up a range of conflicting emotions from passionate love to violence and warfare.

Red denotes purity, joy, and celebration. Red is the colour of happiness and prosperity in China and may be used to attract good luck.

Red is often the colour worn by brides in the East (Im European but I chose a red wedding dress when I got married because of the association of good luck along with it being my favourite colour.) Wearing a red dress in a social situation makes you feel good, you can often be seen as the centre of attention (Or wanting to be!) and its vibrancy makes you feel lively and vibrant so I guess you can become the life of the party for that reason alone!

Use it in your advertising or in your art. If you want to get lots of attention for anything then use the colour Red. It gets people to take action or pay attention. Use red when you don't want to sink into the background, think back to the red dress.

Red suggests speed combined with confidence and is often associated with danger or trouble. A little bit of red goes a long way. Small doses can often be more effective than large amounts of this extremely strong colour. Multiple shades of red and even pink or orange can combine for a cheerful palette. An artwork I once saw and admired was about many shades of lipstick, a very effective piece!

The negative side  - In Russia the Bolsheviks used a red flag when they overthrew the Tsar, thus red became associated with communism; it is also the colour of mourning in South Africa and a gang colour in some countries including New Zealand.



When Red is Good

  • Painting the town red - celebrate, go out and party hard
  • Red carpet treatment - make someone feel special, treat them as if they are a celebrity
  • Red sky in the morning, sailor's warning; red sky at night, sailor's delight – meaning you should pay attention to good and bad warning signs
  • Red eye - an overnight flight where you come away feeling rather tired from lack of sleep
  • Red Letter day – a special occasion

When Red is Bad

  • Seeing red - to be angry
  • In the red – your bank account is overdrawn or you are losing money
  • A Red herring - something deceiving or  put there to distract attention from the truth
  • Red flag – will announce danger, its a warning, or a sign of an impending battle

So what about Red in regards to Art

Here are some tips for using Red:
Red is a pigment that often fades when exposed to light. It will fade faster if used on a white background than it will on a dark one. If its not a permanent pigment then its best to use it at full strength rather than as a tint because of this.

When you add an opaque white to red you will usually create pink rather than a lighter red. Use a transparent white or some yellow to create a lighter red.

Use Red’s complimentary colour to make it appear brighter. Red is opposite to Green which is created by the other two primary colours blue and yellow.

Types of Red in alphabetical order-

Alizarin crimson: A rich, dark, transparent and cool red with a slight tendency towards blue and purple. Alizarin is great to add to other reds if you want to darken or deepen them. This red is good to use for glazing as it will add depth to your artwork without getting in the way or hiding any details underneath. A synthetic pigment related to traditional rose madder.

Cadmium red: Available in light, medium, and deep (or dark). These are usually very strong, warm, and opaque reds. Brilliantly coloured, with a good permanence and tinting power. Cadmiums tend to blacken when mixed with copper pigments. Mix cadmium red medium with cadmium yellow medium for a warm orange. Cadmiums are toxic.

Carmine: often called Crimson Lake is a traditional red that's not usually light fast or permanent, however it can now be purchased in permanent versions.

Earth reds are closely related to browns like ochres and umbers. Earth reds can be called red ochre, red oxide, Mars red, burnt sienna, terra rosa, red earth.

Indian red: A warm, dark earth red with a tendency towards blue. Indian Red is made from natural iron oxide. It is a good mixing colour but only with transparent colours because it is too opaque to make anything but mud if you mix it with other opaque colours

Quinacridone red. Is a synthetic pigment, typically a deep red to violet in colour. Mixed with French ultramarine blue you will get a brilliant purple or with Payne's grey you can get a dull purple.

Rose madder: A very distinctive and transparent red. This pigment is made from the rose madder root. Some ranges will call it madder lake.

Scarlet Lake: is a rather bright and intense red, with a slight undertone of blue. Scarlet Lake is a strong colour which is also good for glazing.

Venetian red: this is a warm, earthy red which leans more towards orange. It is a light and warm pigment that is a darker shade of scarlet. It can be made from natural or synthetic iron oxide and different ranges will have different versions due to this.

Vermilion: is a bright and intense red made up from sulphur and mercury (mercuric sulphide). It’s usually a very expensive pigment, but you can get it now as a hue which is less expensive. Vermilion is toxic and prone to turning black in sunlight.

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Posted: Sunday 10 January 2010