The effects of color are an elusive, unquantifiable mystery, yet they have a profound effect on our emotions and thought process. Color has the ability to raise your blood pressure, capture your attention and inspire worship. I have a childhood memory of a neighbor who painted their house red and black. Immediately they were under suspicion by the entire block. A simple color choice influenced people’s perception of their character and stability.
When you think of aggression, the speeding red car or the woman in the red dress comes to mind. You can be green with envy or blue with sadness. You might wear a yellow arm band identifying yourself with Lance Armstong. Even as babies we were associated with pink or blue based on our gender.
As a producer, I have come to realize that color treatment can influence people and enhance meaning in the context of ministry and worship. Color choices effect mediums like video, lighting, web, staging and even our clothing. Whether you are editing a video, lighting a stage or designing a weekly bulletin, color is communicating values and intentions.
There are a few basic guidelines that will elevate a ministries use of color.
1. Be intentional with all color choices.
It may seem simplistic, but intentionality is often overlooked when it comes to color. Establish a producer or creative director who will guide the process of making wise color choices. Bring unity to your presentation by coordinating color choices between lighting, video, print and staging. There should be a seamless beauty throughout the ministry experience.
2. Use color combinations.
Generally, one color creates a bland presentation. Lighting a stage with one color creates a flat design. A combination of two colors is always a winner. Study color combinations and develop a pallette of useful combinations in your ministry. Three colors can be dangerous and requires more thought. Four or more colors generally create chaos and an unprofessional appearance.
3. Create a neutral setting.
From a production point of view, you want the ability to change color combinations from week-to-week and even within a service. The best way to do this is to have a neutral setting. Consider the color of your ceiling, stage walls, auditorium wall, floor and chairs. Any color introduced into these elements will distract from your ability to control the effects of color in your space. Create neutral spaces for the most flexibility.
THE COLOR WHEEL
Develop a color sense and enhance your instinct for color choices. A good place to start is with an under-standing of the color wheel.
The color wheel is a design for understanding the relationship between basic colors. The primary colors are blue, red and yellow. They are considered to be “pure” in form and are the building blocks of the color wheel. Primary colors are simple to under-stand and are used in major brands like McDonalds, Shell and Kellogg’s. They are often used for marketing to children.
Secondary colors are created by mixing primary colors.
Red + Blue = Purple
Blue + Yellow = Green
Yellow + Red = Orange
Tertiary colors are the result of further mixing between primary and secondary colors. Example 1 shows the relationship of these twelve colors in the form of a color wheel.
The color wheel can be used to develop color combinations. The first style of combination is called analogous. The analogous approach selects three consecutive colors on the color wheel. Typically one color dominates the other two. This grouping creates a sense of unity and harmony.
Complementary combinations are two colors that are opposite one another on the color wheel. This combination creates a powerful contrast which gives the colors energy and intensity.
Monochromatic groups are shade and tint variations of a single color. This combination has great versatility.
THE POWER OF ASSOCIATION
We all have color associations based on culture, history, politics and personal experience. The combination of red, white and blue conjures up patriotic sentiments. Olives and tans elude to the camouflage of the military. When creating content, consider the associations that are related to color and use these links to your advantage.
The creative team at my church was faced with the task of designing a series on the topic of money and tithing. This can be a tricky subject for some people. The obvious color choice is green (money) and gold (wealth). However, most people have a negative association with money and ministry. In this situation we chose to avoid green and gold and aimed for something more soothing. Our design palette included blues and white. The overall goal was to add a calming effect by using cool colors.
Following is a basic description focusing on colors and their relationship to ministry, spirituality and life.
RED: Red evokes a sense of passion, danger, anger, power and courage. Spiritual associations include the imagery of blood, sacrifice and the intensity surrounding the crucifixion. Red is often a color of defiance and aggression. In media, red is difficult to film and reproduce. This color should be used with intention and a clear purpose.
PINK: Pink evokes a feminine and youthful quality. It is often associated with fashion and trends. Other descriptors include romance, youth, joy, energy, health, vigor and sweetness. Pink has been known to threaten masculinity and maturity.
LAVENDER: Lavender is a smooth and soothing color. It is often used in lighting for it’s sensual and toning effects. From a spiritual perspective, lavender is associated with healing and recovery. Other associations include floral and pleasant scents.
PURPLE: Purple is the color of royalty and victory. Christian tradition points to Christ’s resurrection, the Easter season and the regal qualities of Christ. Purple is also associated with penitence, sophistication, sentimentality, creativity, wealth and uniqueness. Purple is a useful color in lighting and is often paired with shades of blue.
BLUEVIOLET: Blue-violet is a more intense presentation of purple. It provides a sense of drama, intelligence, royalty, authority, strength, confidence, privilege and class. Blue-violet is dark in quality and is often used to create a sense of night or evening.
BLUE: Blue is the most useful color in lighting and film. It has the ability to create coolness or warmth. A staple of the stage, blue is always a wise choice for creating moods and evoking emotion. Blue is the color of wisdom and truth. It promotes calmness and serenity. The spiritual symbol-ism of blue is found in water, baptism and the concept of cleanliness.
TURQUOISE: Turquoise evokes a sense of healing, refreshing, truth and happiness. It is commonly used to express uniqueness, riches, coolness and relaxation. It is both tropical and fluid.
GREEN: Green is the color of growth, renew-al and balance. It is associated with nature, foliage, springtime and youth. Negative associations include envy and money. Positive associations include luck and harmony. Green is a useful color for lighting but can cause people to look sickly when projected on them directly. Green relates to God’s creation and the wonder of nature.
YELLOW-GREEN: Yellow-green is a sharp, acidic color. It is both bold and gaudy. Other associations include technology, sickness, tackiness and tartness. Yellow-green can feel technical and chemical. It can create a vivid sensation when associated with hot pink.
YELLOW: Yellow is often related to the sun and evokes a sense of warmth, friendliness and enlightenment. It is associated with citrus, chemicals and cowardice. Yellow appears very intense as a light form on stage and can be difficult to project properly.
YELLOW-ORANGE: Yellow-orange is a warm, rich color associated with harvest, farming and agriculture. Other associations include flowers, wealth and warm climates.
ORANGE: Orange is a provocative color which caries energy, humor and joy. This vital color is associated with, fall, harvest time, sunsets and citrus. Other associations include loud, tangy, juicy, hot and celebration. Orange is especially useful when paired with blue.
RED-ORANGE: Red-orange evokes a sense of desert living and earthiness. This color symbolizes friendship, warmth and a welcoming hand. Pair with turquoise for a strong contrast and southwestern feel.
BROWN: Brown evokes a sense of masculinity. It is rustic, basic, warm, earthy and stable. Brown projects a sense of support and comfort. Brown is associated with many comfort foods including chocolate and coffee.
GRAY: Gray is often considered neutral. It also has associations with maturity, futurism, technology and professionalism. Gray is a practical color and enjoys a home with industry and the business world.
BLACK: Black is a power broker. It is associated with death, sin, mystery and glamor. Black is associated with deviant behavior, night life, oppression, darkness, wickedness and the villain. On the positive side, black is strong, prestigious, classic, sol-vent, absolute and clearcut. Black is the color of words and the color of people groups.
WHITE: White is a strong color in the spiritual realm. It is symbolic for forgiveness, purity, perfection, innocence, chastity and holiness. White is associated with sterility, cleanliness, silence, brightness and commitment. White is the color of winter, cold and coolness.