The Nature of Color Affects Human Behavior


The color present in the natural environment offers a source of stimulus and inspiration. Well know as the basic for much of artists work and as an aspect of the natural world almost universally enjoyed.

It can be assumed that the human ability to perceive color developed as an aid to adaptation to the environment. Which was, for most of human experience, entirely natural. The modern, humanly created environment is still perceived by the same physical and mental processes that were developed to aid in the understanding of nature. It is not surprising that the colors of nature are generally a source of pleasure and satisfaction.

Landscape is commonly thought of as dominated by the cool colors, green and blue. With the sky characteristically blue, the tones of grass and trees green. In fact sky color varies greatly from the blue of a clean noon, to various tones of gray and white produced by clouds and haze, and the pinks, oranges, and reds of dawn and sunset.

Grass and leaves are green in summer, but tones of yellow and tan appear as grass dries. And leaf colors change in autumn to the varied tones of yellow, orange and red that are particularly exciting  and pleasing. Earth colors range through tones of gray and brown to lighter tans and yellows. Snow can make land surfaces white or near white. Water is commonly thought of as blue.But the tones of oceans, lakes, and rivers can vary into blue-greens, greens, tans, browns, and near blacks. According to changes in climate, weather, time of day, and degree of clarity.

Ice formed on the surface of water can be near white, gray, almost black, or range of colors reflected from the sky and other elements.


Flowers are well known to present a wide variety of colors including warm tones of red, orange, yellow, and violet along with some cool blues. Such colors as rose and violet take their names from the flowers that exhibit those colors.

Berries and fruits are full of color and also often provide the names used for colors such as lemon and orange. Nuts appear in a range of tans and browns. Fish, animal, and birds are full of colors. The appearing colors of many foods come from their natural origins. The cut surfaces of lemons, oranges, tomatoes, and melons, the reds and browns of most meats. And the colors of breads and cakes made through processing of natural substances are strongly appealing.

The browns and tans of many larger animals are widely varied. And the white of polar bears, the stripes of zebras, and the black of many creatures make a zoo colorful place.

Eggs can be the clear white or tan of the familiar. Food-shop offering or may have more varied colors relating to various birds, such as the blue of the robin’s egg. The white and yellow yoke of the egg interior are familiar sight. Bright colors appear among insects, birds, and fish. While human beings vary in color tones from pale pink through tan and brown tones to near black. Hair and eyes are many colors among varied species, both human and animal. It is interesting that the colors of nature seem to appear harmonious and pleasing in almost every context, offering endless suggestions for planned color use.

Many of the colors available for human use also have their origins in natural sources. Stone , clay bricks and tiles, the wood used to make a vast variety of objects. Animal products, such as leather and wool yarns, other yarns, such as cotton, linen, and silk, are all natural products that can be used in their natural colors. Dyes derived from natural materials (berries, bark, and wood chips, for example) are varied in color. And are generally more pleasing in tone and in relationships than the artificial dyes made by chemical processes.

Designers can be both challenged and  inspired by observation of natural color. In the effort to assemble environments. For human use in the modern world that will be as pleasant and stimulating in color terms as the natural world. It is not safe to assume that this will be an inevitable result of the use of varied color. Thought and planning are needed along with careful observation and some theoretical knowledge. If designed color if to be the source of satisfaction that lies within its potential.



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