It’s everywhere we look…

Color is constantly swirling, twirling, whirling around us. The human eye can see around 7 million different colors.

We see color when light bounces off objects and into our retina which is then converted into electrical impulses that are transmitted to our hypothalamus. Our hypothalamus does a lot more than decipher color; it controls our body’s temperature, appetite, sleep and behavioral patterns to name a few. It’s easy to see how color has such a heavy influence over us.

Here at Elle Crée, we are all about color! Many of you tell us that you are drawn to our unique color palette of custom hues. But why are we drawn to certain colors at all and how do they affect us? Here are a few things we know from science that help explain why we respond to certain colors the way we do. We’ve also thrown in some fun historical anecdotes (spoiler: The color green can kill!).

Has the longest wavelength, making it often appear nearer than it is which grabs people’s attention. It’s the same color as blood which is why it’s associated with anger and aggression. This color can feel overwhelming when overused. It’s a color with high visibility which is why it’s used to alert danger. Red is known to successfully trigger impulse buys and stimulate appetite, making it a common color for shopping and fast food. Red was one of the first colors to be named, the word derives from Sanskrit rudhira.

Is a bright optimistic color thought to enhance creativity. Orange has high visibility and is often used for warning signs, traffic signals, and prison jumpsuits. It’s a color that exemplifies friendliness and humor so it’s often used for children's products. Bet you didn’t know there is actually a word that rhymes with orange… it’s “Blorenge” which is a large hill in Wales.

Is a bright color that is often seen as the color of happiness and cheerfulness. It’s an energizing color often associated with the sun. It’s also considered a humbling color that signifies affordability and is used in children's packaging. In 1939, 50 different shades of yellow were proposed and narrowed down to the current color called National School Bus Glossy Yellow.

Is the most common color and is found in abundance outdoors, because of that it’s a color that naturally soothes people. Green reminds us of nature and has the power to help people adjust, so it’s commonly used in lobbies, offices, and restaurants. In 1775 the color Schele’s Green was invented. This vivid green was the most popular fashionable color at the time, found in clothes, curtains and toys until it’s consumers became seriously ill. Schele’s Green or Paris Green was made with one of the deadliest elements, copper arsenite also known as arsenic.

Has the shortest wavelength and is the most universally appealing color of the spectrum and the majority of people's favorite color. This cold color is known to be an appetite suppressant and is related to lowering blood pressure. Associated with intellect and trust, it is often used to color banks. Blue is the rarest color found in nature. Animals that appear blue aren’t actually blue, they are a deep shade of purple or anthocyanin compound. Light hits special structures on the cell which causes wavelengths to bounce in a way that looks blue to us.

Is a mix of both red and blue wavelengths overlapping. This color is not commonly found in nature so it has a more mysterious association and is linked to spirituality, imagination and wisdom. The color purple was an expensive pigment to make so it is most often associated with royalty and religion. Tyrian purple was once the most expensive color to produce. During Roman times, it took 4 million crushed mollusk shells to create one pound of purple pigment.


    • Stimulating
    • Energetic
    • Dangerous
    • Powerful
    • Dominance
    • Hot

    • Uplifting
    • Humorous
    • Energetic
    • Seasonal
    • Warning
    • Warm

    • Optimistic
    • Playfulness
    • Youth
    • Energizing

    • Harmony
    • Balance
    • Grounding
    • Nuetral
    • Wealth
    • Health

    • Soothing
    • Sympathetic
    • Relaxing
    • Encourages reflection
    • Trustworthy

    • Mysterious
    • Luxury
    • Wisdom
    • Bravery
    • Calming
    • Encouraging

Since the very beginning, humans have been obsessed with trying to harness color. It’s a long history of making paint, using it to change our environment, record history, and express ourselves. Turns out it's pretty tricky to replicate the colors we see around us.

The color of paint is controlled by pigments. A pigment is a natural coloring matter found in minerals, chemicals, and plant or animal cells. The oldest pigment we’ve discovered is from Mauritania in West Africa. It’s a pink pigment made from the chlorophyll of fossilized algae that's 1.1 billion years old. The most recent colors invented are Vanta Black, the darkest color in the world. It absorbs almost 99% of visible light, making it impossible to see surface, shape, and texture when painted. YInMn Blue is the newest color invented, named after its components Yttrium, Indium and Manganese. It's a chemically made pigment that is a luminous, vivid pigment that will never fade.

  • Red- Pigments are commonly made of carmine, cinnabar, and alizarin.
  • Orange-Pigments are commonly made of carotenes, realgar, and orpiment.
  • Yellow- Pigments are commonly made of xanthophyll, diarylide, and ochre.
  • Green- Pigments are commonly made of chlorophyll, copper acetate and malachite.
  • Blue- Pigments are commonly made of cobalt, lapis lazuli, and azurite.
  • Purple- Pigments are commonly made of anthocyanins, hematite, and manganese.

The best place to find pigment? Forbes Pigment Collection at the Harvard Art Museums, archiving pigments that have been used by painters from Van Gogh to Botticelli. Including mind-boggling colors like Mummy Brown, yes it’s made from mummies, Emerald green which is made from arsenic, and Indian Yellow which is made from mango-eating cow urine.

Elle Crée’s paint recipes? Top secret. We can tell you that every color has its own unique recipe and is hand-mixed by our in-house Color Specialist. We mix our 144 custom colors from 12 non-toxic, American-made paint colors (including four metallics)… and our palette continues to grow!

Rachel Austen, Founder (left) and Mandi Andersen, Color Specialist (right) perfecting a blue for Elle Crée’s custom color palette.

By Lia Horther, Elle Crée Community Education & Outreach

Lia has a background in Art Education and a degree in illustration. Her curiosity has led her to dabble in a multitude of mediums, from needle felting to gouache studies. She’s passionate about sharing her skills and experiences with anyone who’s interested in experiencing the endless possibilities and joys of creating art.