What Is Your Red?

What Is Your Red?

by Barbara K. Stump, MA

Undoubtedly, red is the boldest color on the color wheel. It can evoke feelings, and is a color that says, hey look at me! Over the years I have seen my students use this color to show anger, war, love, frustration, and passion in their artwork.  In my own artwork, I rarely use this color. In fact, I can only think of three times in my life I have used this color intentionally.

The first significant time I used red was in my home. I decorated my youngest son’s bedroom in a cowboy inspired theme. He was around 4 years old at the time. Yes, I love Toy Story and the character, Woody! There was only one accent wall painted bright red, and the other walls were more of a creme color. The bedspread was navy with some red accents and a cowboy themed pattern to match the curtains. I felt proud of my work, and thought it was so very cute! Unfortunately, it did not go over the way I had hoped. He hated it, and proceeded to tell me in so many different ways how much he hated it! How did I not know this kid of mine did not like the color red?!?!

So, what I learned from this is that red appeals to people in different ways. I used red paint a second time in my house. This time it was for the sink and vanity area for my own bathroom. At that time, I was recently divorced and needed to update my own bedroom and bathroom area to make it feel like it was mine alone. I think for me I wanted to choose a bright color, and one that would symbolize courage and confidence. Something I desperately needed in that time of my life, and had to muster to raise two young boys on my own. Admittingly, red is not my favorite color either, even though I have been told it is a good color for me to wear. I usually lean towards more cool colors like blues and greens. Granted, life is fleeting, and in that stage of my life this color was fitting for me.

The third time I used red, was for creating a special chair for my classroom. I used red fabric to cover the seat cushion of an old chair I transformed. The chair itself I first painted entirely black. Then I painted brightly colored nature designs all over it, and scripted the words “Bloom” on the back. I had a special corner in my classroom with a circle table and this is where I put this chair. It was there for those students who were gifted in the arts and wanted to continue to grow their talents. It was also there for those students who were struggling with things in their life and needed some space on their own.

Whether you are an artist, or not, making a decision to paint a wall, a room, or cover a chair, to represent something can be uplifting and mood altering, at least it was for me. Choosing a color to decorate a personal space is important. If you were to paint a room, or decorate a piece of furniture, what color, or colors, might you choose? I am very much looking forward to creating my studio space up north. As I move forward in my next phase of life in Traverse City, Michigan, I am happily leaning back towards my favorite colors of blues and greens. Although, I do have a red lab, named Maple, and she keeps my new husband, Jeff, and I on our toes!

Barb is an Art Education Consultant and G3 Contributing Writer. Her current series ‘Art for Everyday Enrichment and Mental Health’ will be released weekly on Thursday. Her upcoming series ‘Art Passport’ will look at ways that we can use art to transport ourselves to happy times and evoke feelings of peace and comfort.

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