As color is one of seven main visual elements of art, our interpretations and experiences of it should always carry significance. With that said, color (in some cases) helps us express emotion and spirituality as these concepts are never truly black and white. Emotionally, the effects of what color one encounters vary; a feeling of closeness is achieved with warmer colors and farness with more cooler ones. This can be further interpreted as an emotion of excitement and gloominess with warm and cold colors respectively, although not always the case. French artist Henri Matisse has said that color should be used by association from experience.
What this basically means is that if one encounters an object or environment (such as a forest) and such a forest was seen as blue given an artist’s geography and / or time of day, then it’s not incorrect to visually interpret it as blue instead of the traditional green. Therefore, there shouldn’t be one predetermined color for almost any object. Despite this, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky has argued that color should be used in tandem with one’s direct experience or feelings with an object (i.e. hot metal = pain = red / orange), tying into how color can be identified with emotion. Non-spiritually, artists have used colors to recreate and / or recapture the beauty of nature, a practice referred to as local color. Color usage here is factual; what was actually seen as one color usually stays that color in a work of art.
An example of this was posted in the course lecture from Dutch artist Willem Kalf; the picture conveyed was that of food and tableware. The colors depicted here are realistic and capture the spirit of one physically relating to the subject. On the flipside, the practice of subjective color has the artist choose any kind of color for any given object (as determined by how an artist sees said object). One could argue that doing this may entice viewers to look past an established color for an object in order to look at it in a different way. A work of art by Matisse called “Woman with Hat” demonstrates a free use of color; for example, the sky is a mixture of green, blue, yellow and red (and their various shades, but nothing too dark). Even though we typically see the sky as either all blue, all grey or even a mix between orange and yellow, spiritually one can envision it as an environment reflecting a particular mood or aura. In this case, the mood of the woman in the painting is content and her presence is relaxed – so much so that the background and figure feel uniform in how they share areas of color; almost as if to say that the message here is that you can become one with the environment around you by adopting what you wear with how you feel, the aura of which is reflected in the background.