4 Ways to Use Color to Unleash Your Creativity

Color always gets my creative juices flowing.  Sometimes I can actually “taste” the luscious colors.  (Take a look at the work of a masterful colorist, my friend Cal DeRuyter, so see what I mean.  Doesn’t this make you salivate?)

In this morning’s Facebook feed, I saw that another friend, fellow color enthusiast Carol McIntyre, had posted Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year, lemon sorbet.

I wondered if it was the same as Pantone’s Color of the Year.  (Nope, they picked Monaco blue.)  But, in the process of looking it up, I was reminded that Pantone also publishes a Color of the Day on their website.  (Today’s is Lavender Violet.)

So, anytime you need a little something to get you started in the studio, try this painting challenge:  go to Pantone’s website and scroll down until you find the Color of the Day.  Whenever you are stuck in a creative rut, giving yourself some restrictions can work wonderfully to open up new creative directions.  It’s seems paradoxical, but restrictions force you to solve problems, and problems are the wellspring of creativity.  After all, if the solution is already known, you don’t have to be very creative, do you?

Here are four ways to use the Color of the Day to unleash your creative spirit—

—Create something using the Color of the Day as the dominant color.

A lot of lavender violet, and a bit of orangy-yellow
Mostly lavendar violet, with a bit of orangy-yellow.

Try using the complement—in this case, an orangy-yellow, since the Color of the Day is a bluish-violet— in small amounts for accents, and to modify the Color of the Day.  Or, just use whatever colors feel good to you.

—Use it as the accent color.

Lavendar violet as the spice color with a dark reddish brown and a warm golden brown.
Lavendar violet as the spice color with a dark reddish brown and a warm golden brown (greyed versions of reddish- or orangy-yellows are browns).

I like to call it the “spice” or “jewel” color.  For the rest of the painting, use a greyed complement of the Color of the Day to make your “spice” color pop.  Yes, even a cool muted color like today’s Lavender Violet can pop if you use the complement to give it the right setting.  For example, today that would mean a painting that’s mostly semi-neutrals in the yellow range, with Lavender Violet as the accent color.  Try it!  The Lavendar Violet will gleam light a little gem in all that greyed yellow.

—Use a split-complementary color scheme based on today’s color.

Lavendar Violet with a Yellowish Orange and a Yellow-Green
Split Complementary Color Scheme Based on Lavendar Violet

To find a split-complementary color scheme, first find the complement of your color —in this case, it would be yellow—and then instead use the colors on either side of it—a yellowish orange, and a yellow-green.

—Use an analogous color scheme based on today’s color.

Lavender violet with a reddish violet and a pale blue.
Analogous color scheme based on lavendar violet.

In this case, you would use colors close to today’s color on the color wheel.  Since today’s color is a blue-violet, you could use a reddish violet and a blue.

What will YOU create based on today’s color?

If you’ve been wanting to get more comfortable with color, consider trying this exercise every day for a week.  What will tomorrow’s Color of the Day be?  Go to Pantone’s website to find out, and spice up your creative day!