Episode 14 Interesting facts about colour & colour expressions.


Hey guys, welcome to episode 14 of The Arty Anglais Podcast a podcast where we talk about art, culture and society to help you learn English naturally. You'll hear me talk about interesting topics, English expressions and English grammar in a different way so you can learn English in context.

Follow Arty Anglais





YouTube (Podcast Episodes)


what goes on here - the things that happen on a daily basis

on the lookout - searching for something or someone

space invaders - characters from the arcade-style video game

it is up to you - it is your choice / we rely on you

saved me walking around - stopped me from having to walk everywhere

transient or ephemeral nature - always changing

paste-ups - a poster, drawing, stencil, which is fixed to a wall or other surface

adorn - to add something decorative to a person or a thing

delve deeper into (something) - find out more information

oversimplify something - make something so simple that it can change the meaning

clear something up - solve or explain something

colour psychology - how colours can have an impact on us

branding - the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising

influence our buying choices - persuade us to buy something

colour palettes/scheme - a visual image that shows how colours will look together

colour combinations - more than one colour appearing together

hue - the general colour name - blue, red, yellow etc

significant impact on me - to affect or influence someone or something.

(to be) a big fan of something - really like something

associated with - connected with something else.

pseudoscience - beliefs or ideas not based on scientific research

anecdotal evidence - evidence for something coming only from a personal story

break it down - simplify it into simple points and ideas

washed out - faded and transparent

my wardrobe - in this context it refers to the clothes in my wardrobe

national emblem - a symbol that represents a country

standing out from the crowd - doing something different to everyone else to be easily recognisable

Expressions of colour PDF


00:00:28 Hey everyone, welcome back to Episode 14 of the Arty Anglais Podcast. My name is Tara, and I'm an Australian living in Montpellier, France. I teach English and art together to kids and teenagers, and I teach English to adults also. So I love everything to do with art. I am a curious and creative teacher and an artist myself, so I love being able to bring these curiosities and fascinations with the creative world to my students.

00:01:04 If this is your first time here welcome to the Arty Anglais Podcast. I'm very happy that you've found it. To explain a little bit about what goes on here, at the Arty Anglais podcast, on the podcast I talk about lots of different things related to art and culture. I don't talk about just art history or the old art masters, the painters. Here I talk about what's going on now in the world around me about art. For example, I've made some episodes recently about street art, street artists, science and art, and how to be creative. In Episode 9 I spoke to an Artist from Canada - Seb Duke from The Big in the Small who makes these really super cool prints of bubbles. I'm actually on the lookout for some more artists to interview for some future episodes so if you know anyone sends me an email to tell me all about them. I'd love to know about these artists that I could interview.

00:02:16 What's been happening recently at Arty Anglais? Well, I've been doing lots of Street Art searching in Montpellier. I'm going back to Melbourne in Australia soon for a few weeks, so I'm looking forward to seeing my family but of course, also going to visiting the city to see what's been happening in the laneways of Melbourne and of course to drink some pretty good coffee! If you listened to Episode 11, you'd know that Melbourne is well known for its great coffee and street art so I'm really looking forward to having a visit back home.

00:02:56 The other thing I wanted to share with you was two apps which I have on my phone that I use to search for street art quite regularly. I can't believe I haven't shared them with you already, to be honest! The first one is called Flash Invaders. (He also has a great interview style artist statement if you want to take a look here. It's an app where you can get points by finding 'or flashing' taking a photo of pace Invaders. They're made from tiles by the French street artist Invader. I'm sure you know what Space Invaders are, but in case you don't, Space Invaders are the little characters from the arcade-style video game which was popular in the 1970s. I first learnt about this artist, invader, when I went to Paris, and I kept seeing these tiles on the corners of many buildings. So the French artist has made these characters and sticks them to walls and street furniture all over the world - 78 cities I believe in America, Brazil, Australia, France, India, Bangladesh, England, Germany, Morocco, Turkey. You can find the Space Invader Map online. That will show you which cities but not necessarily where they are located in these cities. That's where it is up to you to find them with the android or apple app. It's just a little bit of fun, and every time my wife and I travel, we like to compete with each other to find these little characters. The best one I saw was Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader when I went to London last year. It's a huge invader artwork (on...I don't know what building it is but it's in the middle of London somewhere. We also have quite a number of these invaders in Montpellier You see them around on the streets and they're really cool to find.

00:04:55 The other application I wanted to share with you is called Street Art Cities Map. What is interesting about this map and this application is it will show you the locations of different street art pieces in various cities around the world. It's updated frequently by Street Art Hunters who are just everyday people like you and me. Each entry into the map will also give you a little more information about the piece and the artist. I used this when I went to Berlin recently, and it was so beneficial because I had very limited time, and it saved me walking around so much because Berlin is a huge city to it saved me a lot of time. Of course, it's not always going to have everything on it because of the transient or ephemeral nature of street art which means it's ever-changing, but it will give you some good ideas about where to find it. I want to do this more regular at the start of every episode. Share some current news or exhibitions or things that are currently happening in the art world. So I'm going to try and find some interesting information to share.

00:06:12 The other thing I wanted to share with you was something I spoke about in the last episode, which was sharing Artist Statements from listeners and artists. Today I'm going to share the first one with you which is from a local Artist here in Montpellier in France called Crying Sailor. I've spoken a little about her before on the podcast and posted pictures on Instagram. She is a street artist in Montpellier, and I first discovered her work when I arrived in Montepellier, and I bought a tile that she had painted of a cute Gameboy character and it was birthday present for my wife. She also makes paste-ups. A paste-up is a poster, drawing, stencil, which is fixed to a wall or other surface using wheatpaste or wallpaper paste which is like a glue. Crying Sailor creates these paste-ups of characters with cross-stitch patterns, and she uses Posca Paint Markers which are painted in a marker basically. She also paints tiles of cute characters and fixes them to the walls in Montpellier. A very similar way to what Space Invader does with his tiles but she makes one tile. She is currently doing some time in the Murum which is a studio space here in Montpellier, and she's working on some new pieces and styles of her work. You'll find some of her pieces listed in the Street Art Cities App.

So without further ado, I'm going to share her Artist Statement in her words:

My artist name is Crying Sailor. My initial project was to use street art as a tribute to my grandfather. I use a sailor's stencil with a tear in the shape of a heart to represent him and his life. A tear because his life was hard and a heart because I wanted to somehow give him a sweeter second life by making him a tribute to put on the walls.
Then I continued to paste my drawings, using, among other things, the technique of cross-stitch embroidery adapted to each picture. I like the idea of ​​mixing old techniques and popular characters from pop culture or video games.
I also glue ceramic tiles on which I paint characters in the form of biscuits or Game Boy or other characters that I invent, and that I adorn with all kinds of different expressions.
You'll find the little heart on each of my drawings as it's the link between all my projects: the heart. Street art is a tool that allows me to give positive emotions to passersby. Whether through a phrase that will make them think, a drawing of character who will smile, or a cartoon hero who will return to childhood. I like to challenge people where they spend every day: in the streets.

00:09:20 Thank you for sharing your artist statement Crying Sailor. I highly recommend checking out her work. The Gameboy's are certainly a favourite character of mine because they remind me of my childhood and playing pokemon gold with my brother for so many hours. You'll find all her links in the show description and also the transcript for today's episode.

Crying Sailor Website

Crying Sailor Instagram

I have already received a few of these artist statements so I'll keep sharing them as long as you keep sending them. You can send them to my email info@artyanglais.com If you want to find the PDF for how to fill in the artist statement go to episode 13 of the podcast.

00:10:15 Today I want to talk a little more about idioms and expressions of colour and a little about how colour impacts our lives. I've been reading a few books lately about colours because I was looking for some colour mixing theory books and I strumbled across these books by accident. It started to get me fascinated by the role that colour plays in our lives. I'm certainly someone drawn to colour - especially when I see it painted in the streets. For some reason, though I don't tend to wear colour which is interesting because I do like colour. Anyway, I found these two quotes that I feel sums up what colour means to us.

Colour is a power which directly influences the soul - Wassily Kandinsky

and I like this one too.

Colours are the smiles of nature - Leigh Hunt

Colours are one of the first things you learn when you're a kid and when you're learning a language as well! They play a massive part in our everyday lives. I'm sure we don't ever stop to think about it though. In English, we use so many expressions of colour! I had no idea how many there were until I started to look deeper into it until I delved deeper into the world of colour expressions. I have made a few infographic images of the different expressions of colour and I shared them on Instagram a few weeks ago, plus I've put them in the podcast transcript, but I want to share with you just a small taster of these colour expressions! I also made a little PDF booklet for all the different colour expressions you can find which you'll be able to download for free of course from the Episode transcript.

Colour expressions PDF.

00:15:05 I have a few other favourite expressions for not so colourful colours too.

To see something in black and white means to consider everything and oversimplify something into being either one way or another, good or bad, black or white. Sometimes it also means you can take things very literally or understand things very literally. This also means you don't believe there is a grey area - yet another expression! No grey area. A grey area implies a situation that is not clear or where the rules are not known. For example. The issue of allowing mobile phones in the classroom is a grey area right now because there are both positives and negatives to this situation. It is a bit of a grey area as to whether we should allow phones in the classroom.

Any way you can find the full list of colour expressions and idioms in the PDF of today's episode transcript. Colour expressions PDF.

How do you spell colour?

00:16:23 Before we get started with the podcast, I want to clear something up. How do you spell colour? The British, Australians and Canadians all spell the word colour c-o-l-o-u-r, but if you were to go to America or speak to an American, they would tell you that you're spelling it wrong! In the United States, the word colour is spelt c-o-l-o-r! The other difference we have often is between the word mum and mom. So just for clarification, in today's transcript, I'm going to use the British English and the Australian spelling of colour because well I'm Australian and I speak Australian English.

Now that we have that out of the way, I want to talk a little more about the psychology of colour, including:

- What is colour psychology and how it could change our mood

- How we perceive and see colours differently, including cultural differences

- How artists used colour

- How it (colour) impacts on branding

- Some interesting books about the psychology of colour and some ESL lessons that you might be interested in that you may be interested in reading.

So without further ado - let's find out a little more!

What is Colour psychology 

00:18:09 Well, colour psychology is the study of how colours can alter our, mood, or our emotional state. It is thought that colours can influence our buying choices, our feelings, and even our memories. A lot of these ideas related to colour psychology are implemented to improve the marketing of products and in design. For example, some companies may choose colours that they believe will motivate customers to buy their products. Colours have even been used in colour therapy techniques to treat various diseases and also some people use colours in things because they feel they may have an impact on how we feel.

I also worked a lot with colour palettes when I was doing planting designs as a landscape architect, and it was interesting to hear clients preferences for colour combinations. For example, white colours (flowers) were often asked to be paired with purple and blue, which are considered cool colours. Then usually red, yellow, orange and pink, which are warm colours, were asked to be grouped. It really depended on the client's preferences, but I found that rarely were the two combinations asked for at the same time. Sometimes purples and pinks were preferred but it really just depended on the client's preferences.

00:19:43 I often also worked alongside architects and interior designers who look a lot at colour palettes. Many interior designers or colour experts within the building industry will say they believe colour can alter how you feel, but it is equally as important as how it looks in your space. I came across a few attractive websites that generate colour palettes and post regularly to Instagram. Coolors and Colorhunt. I got a. little bit distracted on this website making different colour palettes and colour combinations so I put a few in the episode transcripts that were my favourites. So you can check them out if you want to have a look.

Do I think colours can impact on mood?

00:20:33 I think this can be subjective. I have one example, and obviously, it's only anecdotal, which means it's not based on extensive research but based on my experience. I once went to a cafe where the walls were all painted yellow. It was the middle of winter and I was bitterly freezing. Like it often does in Melbourne in winter it was pouring with rain. I went into this cafe and was surprised that I immediately felt better. Maybe it was because I was drinking coffee, but I noticed the cafe's striking yellow walls. I think it's interesting to know that the colour yellow is a colour that is often associated with optimism and happiness. Who knows which had a more significant impact on me - the coffee or the walls, but I did think a lot back then about how the colour yellow back then and that it changed my mood. I was convinced that the yellow walls made me feel better.

00:21:47 I read an article which summarises well what colour psychology means and I'm going to refer to it a lot in this episode as the author of this article Nick Kolenda knows his stuff! But I'm also going to talk about it in a way that I've also experienced. Nick says that well, a lot of the theory on colour psychology is pseudoscience, which means it's based on anecdotal evidence. Like the example that I just gave you. However, there are some studies which clarify that specific colours can have particular impacts on how you feel.

For example, the colours red, yellow, and orange are considered warm colours and they are thought to stimulate, well, happy emotions. On the other hand, cool colours such as blue, violet, and green are associated with calmness, coolness, and tranquillity.

00:22:46 Nick has created a table of different reactions that specific colours can have on the way we feel, but the big thing he emphasises that can have a more significant impact on how you feel is the different values and chroma values of colour. In the Munsell system of colour, there are three components to a colour. I'm going to break it down (separate it into several parts). With every colour, you have three things.

1. Hue - this is the overall colour name blue, red, orange, yellow (the main colours that we know)

2. Value - darkness or lightness of the colour (dark blue, light blue, dark red or a light red

3. Chroma - if it has a low chroma it looks more pastel-like and washed out (faded) and if it has a high chroma it's very vivid (intensely deep or bright).

For example, the colour blue can have many, many, many different shades (made up of chromas and values): so you have colours like light blue, navy blue, sky blue, french marine blue, turquoise blue etc.

00:24:20 So in answer to the question, can colour impact on mood? Yes - However, specific versions of colours have more of an effect on others. Did you know that the colour blue is the favourite colour of most people according to a study by Valdez & Mehrabian, 1994). Then another research study done by Palmer and Schloss suggests that we develop preferences for colours based on our emotional experiences with these colours over time. My favourite colour is blue, and I'm a big fan of many shades of this colour. Half my clothing is various shades of the colour blue - navy blue and bright blue, but I don't like baby blue or the more washed-out version of the colour and I really wonder why that is? Not sure but I just prefer navy blue and dark blue.

Chameleons and colour

00:25:18 Chameleons are often mentioned when we talk about the subject of colour because some species are able to change their skin colouration. I recently learnt some interesting facts. I knew that chameleons could change their colours but I wanted to know why they change their colours. Different chameleon species are able to vary their colouration and pattern through combinations of pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown, light blue, yellow, turquoise, so many colours. I put a picture of the chameleon in the show notes for this particular reason. Chameleon skin has a layer, which has pigments, and under the layer are cells with guanine crystals. Chameleons change their colour by changing the space between these guanine crystals. This then changes the wavelength of light reflected off the crystals to change the colour of the skin. So it's the way that light hits the skin of the chameleons of the skin that changes the colour. This colour change in chameleons is for camouflage, but most commonly in social signalling and in reactions to temperature and other conditions. So that was an interesting fact that I learnt that I wanted to share with you.

Different cultures and colours

00:26:48 Colours can affect us depending on. our culture also. Even though blue is globally the most preferred colour, it's the total opposite in Asia. Red is the most favourite colour in China, for example. America’s main corporate colour, blue, is considered in East Asia to be a cold colour and carries associations of evil and sinister behaviour (Schmitt, 1995). When I visit China for the first time, I'll remember to change my wardrobe (the clothes in my wardrobe).

00:27:28 Red is the most popular colour used on flags in the world. Approximately 77% of all flags include red. In France - blue, white and red are the national colours and in Portugal red is also the national colour along with green because it appears on their flag.

However, the colours of the flag are not always national colours. So, for example, in Australia, our national colours are green and gold (green and yellow). When the Women's World Cup came to France, and I went to the matches, some of my French friends were asking me why they were our colours! They found it bizarre because none of those colours appears on our flag! Well, the colours are from our national emblem, the Golden Wattle Flower. The leaves are green and the flowers are yellow! So this is why our national teams often wear Green and Gold or Green or Yellow. And in the Netherlands, for example, orange is the national colour and represents the Dutch Royal family. So these colours are likely to invoke a feeling of pride and nationalism in the Netherlands. Similarly, green and gold and green and yellow in Australia.

How do we perceive colours?