Platonic Diversion, Kathleen Thoma, monotype, 8 x 10

Orange Therapy

Platonic Diversion, monotype, 8 X 10 in. by Kathleen Thoma Art

Platonic Diversion
Kathleen Thoma
8 x 10

Orange!  Peach! I love shades of orange! Why do I love orange today? All I know is that right now, while working on this particular image; orange rules! Why?

Orange makes me feel warm, happy, exuberant, communicative, sharing, open and relaxed. But why?  The psychology of color is what I’m writing about here.

When I was a kid, mixing bright watercolors on my brush and making a big giant mess on my paper was my greatest joy. When I was angry, I would use a pen, and make messy, dense black lines. At that time, the only thing I knew, was that using colors made me feel happier or at least give me a sense of control over my own mood. I knew nothing about the psychology of color. It was just a wonderful thing in my life, for some it’s music, building things or knitting; for me it was color.

I had no idea that this was self-therapy. I just kept on doing it. My color choices were instinctive, emotional urges. It felt like I was choosing to BE red, or to BE blue, as if it were a costume I was grabbing onto like when I was playing “dress-ups” in my aunt’s old evening dresses.

As an adult, during my traditional training in art school, there was no mention of the psychological effects of color. We were given a more scientific approach about the use of color for achieving the illusion of distance, shadows, volume and so forth. All of that was vital training, but we didn’t learn about the effect of using particular colors might have on our own. We talked about color’s effect on the viewer, not upon ourselves.

It is really fun to analyze your color choices as an adult, AFTER you are finished with the creation of a work of art. During my training in Expressive Arts, this was one important aspect to hold onto. The “inner critic” will rise up and ruin all the fun if you allow yourself to analyze during the working process.

I found some wonderful sources in the web about color psychology; a very good one is a blog by Patricia Kirby at She shares her  “color squares” for others to use, and her entire blog is worth reading. If you find you are interested, take a look. I also found the Luscher color test and other personality tests that are available, many based on the work of Jung.

Like many artists, it is obvious that I don’t hold back on using color. I still allow myself the freedom to enjoy this, and hope you will too.

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