Jun 2, 2012

The Difference Between the Way Artists and Non-artists Perceive Color

In my previous post I showed some quick Photoshop drawings of various color schemes for a potential horse painting. Having a hard time deciding which one to go with, I presented the choices to others and asked their opinions. I asked a group of artists and a group of non-artists. I expected the total votes of both groups combined to present one clear winner. Interestingly, the artist group's "winner" was very different from the non-artist group's choice. The artists overwhelmingly preferred the palomino while the non-artists almost all chose the blood bay with the green background.


Blood bay:

Of course I expected different preferences from different individuals, but I still expected the overall preference of both groups to be similar. In fact, they appear to be polar opposites. The artists seem to prefer the more harmonious combination of yellows and creams. The non-artists talked about the appeal of the lively and vibrant color contrast between the reds and greens.

I'm not sure why the difference in preference. I guess as artists we tend to want color harmony most often, while non-artists tend to be drawn to more eye-catching images. Of course, my little color test here was with small groups of people and far from scientific, but the opinions seemed different enough to be worth thinking about. If we want our paintings to sell, do we paint to please ourselves and other artists? Or do we try to appeal to the more likely buyer, the non-artists?

Of course, in the end, you have to paint what's in your heart. If painting vibrant colors makes you nauseated then it will show in your work and it's probably not a good idea to do it. But if you like the idea of challenging yourself it might be worth giving something different a try and see how it appeals to your audience.

Have you ever experimented with opposite of what you normally do, whether in color, style, or subject? Did you find it fun or frustrating? What was the response from others?

1 comment:

donna said...

GUess I'm a non-artist. I like the contrast.

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