Red is provocative.

magenta & the light - 60" x 60" - $5000- oil on canvas by Marlene Lowden (framed)
magenta & the light – 60″ x 60″ – $5000 – oil on canvas by Marlene Lowden 

It took me some time to get comfortable painting with red and all its variations because it is so bold, strong & courageous. I was a bit intimidated by its vigor. I seriously had to push myself to paint with it beyond the boundaries of an accent colour.

I love it now and love how it can energize a painting. It also can evoke so many emotions – bright reds can cause us to be a bit on edge while magentas and pinks can actually soothe us reminding us of a field of summer flowers. Psychologists and researchers agree that red is a colour which stirs up passion, with both negative and positive color meanings (see more below).

Red is the lowest of the seven colours in the visible spectrum and is a “warm” colour. It is the boldest of the three primary colours, therefore, it is stimulating and energizing and it is helpful for tiredness and lethargy. Red also relates to the ROOT (muladhara) chakra situated at the base of the spine.

I’m, of course, influenced by my environment and happen to live in one of the greenest places in the world, the West Coast of Canada. Therefore, I am very comfortable painting with greens and use red quite often as an accent because red and green are complimentary colours (think: Christmas).  If you look closely at any of my green paintings you will find red, especially dark warm reds that remind me of the cedar trees that I’m surrounded by and the colour of the earth in the forest.

A few more features & fun facts of this vibrant colour :

Positive Meanings of Red

  • Virility, Sex
  • Passion, Love
  • Heat, Daring
  • Boldness, Independence
  • Action, Dynamism
  • Energy, Speed
  • Attention Grabbing, Sexy
  • Fun, Excitement
  • Vigor, Vitality
  • Courage, Strength

It can stimulate your appetite and is often used in restaurants.

Red can make a space feel warm and cozy.

It is associated with vigorous health. Red wool was applied to relieve sprains in Scotland, sore throats in Ireland, and to prevent fevers in Macedonia.

Red is found everywhere during Chinese New Year and other holidays. Red, corresponding with fire, symbolizes good fortune and joy.

A red rose, given to the bearer’s lover or mate has always been known as a symbol of love. As well as the ever-popular red heart on Valentine’s Day.

Red hematite powder was also found scattered around the remains at a grave site in a Zhoukoudian cave complex near Beijing. The site has evidence of habitation as early as 700,000 years ago. The hematite might have been used to symbolize blood in an offering to the dead.


B&W and Grey