Artists Blog: The colours I use and their impact

Up on the Blog - Colour: The colours I use and their impact
Up on the Blog – Colour: The colours I use and their impact

The colours I use and their impact

Colours in my artwork

I just wanted to share with you a post about some recent feedback I have received about some of the new works that I have completed. It is so interesting to get an understanding of how the colours all around us can make us feel a certain way. So I am just speaking from my own painting style and the colours that I mostly use in my paintings – so that you can relate it back to all of the works that I create.

In researching for this post it makes me, as the artist, more aware of the colour choices I make. Even though I mostly work from a photo reference – the actual painting is often quite different from the photo.

My Colour palette and artworks (to date)

I have not been formally trained, however, when I learned to paint through a fellow artist I was taught to use a very limited palette and how to blend these to get an array of tones. The colours that I use are Pthalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, Lemon Yellow, Medium Yellow, Burnt Umber and on the odd occasion Burnt Sienna.

It has been a really great way to learn to paint as I don’t have to purchase an array of different colours as I just mix them to get the colour that I need. And it hoped that all of my landscape works will look cohesive.

As a landscape painter, in New Zealand, the colours are all fairly similar which means that I can easily move from one painting to another using the colours I have already mixed. Batch painting is fabulous as I’m usually painting up until the last minute, so this allows each painting to dry a little and then I can keep working through the different pieces.

As I paint nature of course there are lots of greens and blues so these are the colours that I will mostly talk about – as I want you, the viewer, to understand how my paintings may make you feel.


As red has been known to raise blood-pressure, blue lowers it. Blue is considered to be a soothing, calming hue.

Blue holds a diverse array of meanings that depend on geographic location. In Western cultures, blue is generally considered a calming, serene colour because it is associated with natural elements like water or sky. It has also been linked to lower blood pressure and slower respiration, which is why many interior designers choose it for rooms where clients spend a significant amount of time. Blue also evokes feelings of security, trust, and authority, which is why it’s often the dominant colour of police departments and why banks and credit cards often use it in their logos.

Blue Seascapes Are Calming. For instance being near the ocean has mental health and physical benefits. In the case of my painting Wave Break it may help you with feelings of calm – research shows that being near the colour blue is associated with these feelings.  This painting flowed so nicely so maybe it gave me a calming effect when I painted it.

Original oil and resin painting of Wave Break by Artist Kirsten McIntosh of Kirsten McIntosh Art.
Original Oil and Resin painting Wave Break by artist Kirsten McIntosh of Kirsten McIntosh Art


This colour is at the centre of the spectrum and represents perfect balance. It hits the eye at the point requiring no adjustment, thus presenting no strain. The universal green pigment chlorophyll is at the root of life, and greenery in our environment has a reassuring effect.

Green is also associated with nature and coincides with lush grass or trees as seen in this painting below Roadside Grasses. This colour is seen as refreshing or tranquil and can often represent luck, health and prosperity.

The natural, tranquil aspects of this colour can be seen in many of my artworks. Although the green of New Zealand often has a little burnt umber to give it a more olive green.

Original oil painting of Roadside Grasses by Artist Kirsten McIntosh of Kirsten McIntosh Art.
Original oil painting of Roadside Grasses by Artist Kirsten McIntosh of Kirsten McIntosh Art.


Purple is thought to awaken creativity and imagination. It is often associated with royalty because historically, only the rich were able to afford the expensive items made with the hard-to-produce pigment. Lighter hues tend to exude more peaceful, tranquil emotions.

I often feel that alot of my paintings lend towards a purple tone. As I use Ultramarine Blue alot (if the sky allows) this is definately more of a red blue and then I usually always put a bit of the sky colour in the sea or the land as the sky always reflects on to it. Always the horizon line, in the distance, is purple – so you will see this alot in my landscape paintings like Light on the Dunes.

Original oil painting of 'Light on the Dunes' by Artist Kirsten McIntosh of Kirsten McIntosh Art.
Original oil painting of ‘Light on Dunes’ by artist Kirsten McIntosh of Kirsten McIntosh Art

Cool Colours

Known to create calm and harmonious feelings:

  • BLUE: Invoking compassion and wisdom, truth and loyalty.
  • GREEN: A harmonious colour, green encourages a calming, comfortable attitude, filled with hope and healing. Associated with success.
  • PURPLE: The traditional colour of royalty, this colour is associated with wealth and respect.

Colour Matters

Colour is the number one thing people get caught up in when trying to choose art, often because they’re trying to find something that matches with the other colours in the room. But while matching some of the colours is a perfectly acceptable method for choosing art, it’s not the only method. Sometimes the colours in the art you choose can be the direct opposite of what you already have in your room, or in some cases; you might want something that’s only black and white. What matters is that you find something that compliments the space—sometimes it’s through colour, but not always. Look for a piece that attracts you to it, and don’t worry too much about perfectly matching colours.

Make sure that you have a positive connection to the art as it is a big part of your space and there is nothing better than having something that gives you that special emotional feeling every time you look at it.


Yellow is the most eye-catching colour, but yellow can be fatiguing to the eye and overbearing to the mind. The use of yellow for important things, though, can be a good property as well. Yellow is a happy, energetic colour, that sometimes symbolizes rejuvenation.

I use yellow sparingly in my art. I usually use it to highlight certain areas as seen in this commission, to cast that special ray of light on the hills.

Original commissioned oil painting of The Snake - TeMiro MBP by Artist Kirsten McIntosh of Kirsten McIntosh Art.
Original commissioned oil painting of The Snake – TeMiro MBP by Artist Kirsten McIntosh of Kirsten McIntosh Art.

The Colours I use and their impact

So I hope that gives you a little bit of understanding on what colour choices I make and how I want my works to be perceived. Mostly my inspiration comes from the beautiful scene before me but it is nice to have a deeper understanding of why I was drawn to the scene.

Until next time:

Thanks for taking the time to view my blog – if you would like any further information on any of the artworks shown in this blog or any other art information please get in contact.

I’d love to hear what colours you prefer in your art pieces, landscape or not.

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With thanks and kindest regards Kirsten


Sybaris Collection – Psychology color feelings on art

Invaluable – The Science of Color Explained by Art

Artists FAQ

How do I buy Local Art?

I think it is really great to support local artists within your community. For me I paint a lot of local scenes so it will be art that you can relate to. Of course you can search online for artists in your area, if you always type in the search bar your town/city results will pop up.
For a lot of my work I have a charity focus so if it is in a gallery or exhibition sometimes the commission will help children in need – so everyone wins. Also to support artists within your community you are helping keep small businesses running which helps everyone.
There are often open studios in your hometown so this is a really good way to visit local artisans and find out which of their art you find works for you. You can check out my ‘Passion for Art – Open Studio‘ coming soon.

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