It’s inspiration month here at UnArt, and I want to talk about colour.

It almost seems to be cheating to talk about colour as an inspiration; there probably aren’t many artists or illustrators who don’t find colour inspiring. It would be like a writer not liking verbs.

Sometimes just seeing a particular colour gives me a idea for a image, for example ‘Green Meditation’ (below) was inspired by green moss on a rock.

However, it’s difficult to talk about colour in a meaningful way – this really is an area where a picture is worth 1000 words.

For example, I’ve talked before about my ‘Elements’ series of paintings (below), which are almost all colour – or rather, a collection of colours assembled to try and invoke a particular set of ideas. I think that, by and large it worked, but it’s not simple to say why.

Why is red the colour of passion? Maybe because of blood or fire? Why is blue peaceful and cerebral? Um, because of the sky? It all sounds a bit trite, doesn’t it? Like some sort of silly colour coding.

Furthermore, I don’t think most artists think in terms of ‘blue’ at all but instead in terms of particular shades of blue – and while there are names for shades of blue (midnight blue, cobalt blue, cornflower blue, and so on) that doesn’t really help. Is there really a word for the feeling of open sky, or quiet ocean, or deep and silent forest, heavy with moss? Maybe, maybe not – but there are colours that express all that.

So it’s not easy to describe why I find colour so inspiring. Someone once said ‘Writing about music is like dancing about architecture’ and I feel it’s much the same writing about colour, so I’m going to stop dancing now.

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