How to Boost Your Mood with Red Colors

Red! The first color of the rainbow. Red as in fury! Red as in… the STOP sign! Or red as… a rooster’s comb. If you are looking to boost your mood today, you might just need an invigorating color. Red can improve your home appearance. Red accents on your clothes can make you feel good. Coloring a book with red colors can be very refreshing. Wearing a red hair clip can make you feel confident. All these lead to the same common point: you are an artsy person, whether you are formally trained in art on not. A lot of people, although they don’t consider themselves artists, are, in fact, having an eye for colors and come up with creative ways to use them.
If you want to expand your knowledge about the red color and artistic ways to use it, then read along.
Before I begin to tell you how to find the uplifting energy in your red colors, I’ll take you on a short trip inside the meaning and use of red and the magic effect it has on our minds.

So…, what the heck is red? Or what the hex… is red?


In computer language, it is a hex code, like the ones above. Don’t ask me why and what each letter means…



In the minds of nerdy scientists, it’s …um… an electromagnetic wave (*cough**remember physics classes?…*)


In the minds of artists, it’s a beautiful thing with many names (vermillon, cadmium red, cinnabar, crimson lake…).

So this “thing”… called red: you see it and you want to touch it, but you can’t really touch it, coz’ it’s just a color, not an object! It wanders through your neurons like an abstract notion. And here comes the fun part about the psychology of red: what do you think of when you see red? What do your fuzzy neurons associate it with?

Well, they say there are colors and there are individuals. Each of us has a physiological dimension, which dictates how we record and interpret the world. Any factor that influences us in our daily lives can be of importance: geographical factors (where you are born), ethnicity, social groups, cultural groups, sex, age, temperament, social status, fashion trends.

But underneath that layer of individual subjectivity, there are two other layers, and we have absolutely no idea they exist. Until we dig deeper…

There is a primal layer, which is something humans have engrained in their genes and instincts for thousands of years. And there is a collectively learned layer, which is social and contextual and it is acquired through repetition and training.



The Primal Impression of Red


– red is Fire. Hot. Burning. That primitive force of nature (just like blue is the sky and green is the nature).
– red is that red tulip, that rose, that poppy flower. It POPS UP in your eyes, out of all other colors of nature. You definitely see it first. It screams at you.

– red is fury, wrath, fever, like a red angry face.

– a red sky tells you that bad weather might be around.

– red as in blood: force of life, power of living.

danger as in some species of poisonous mushrooms, certain animals, etc.

The Learned Impression of Red (Social and Contextual Meaning)


– this is also a more sophisticated effect of colors, because it becomes richer and richer as the individual attains a more educated level:
passion, love – we are repeatedly flooded with red and purple hearts every Valentine’s Day and with every occasion for a love celebration.

– excitement, energy, an active life – this is why a lot of brands use red as their main logo color – because they want you to be contaminated with that positive energy, they want you to see their logo and buy their brand. That color will pop in your face and stimulate your senses. Caffeine is energy, and so is the red of Coca-Cola and RedBull:


– red creates urgency, increases heart rate, so they use it to stimulate you when you are shopping – effective method for impulse buyers… I must admit I might be one of those buyers. Oops!

Furthermore, there are studies that show that a vast number of people judge a product based primarily on color, leaving aside the name or description of the product. So colors are really powerful stuff!




– red color increases appetite (don’t ask me why, but McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Lay’s chips, Kellogg’s, Heinz might be able to give you an answer… ). Homework: go see what colors their logos have.

confidence, power, motivation – this is a typical learned association: the red or purple cloak of the kings, which signifies ruling power, authority.

– red is sexy, provocative, sensual (a red dress will turn heads…, red lips are hot…).



Going up towards a more refined interpretation of red, we find even more symbolic meanings:


– Virgin Mary’s clothes in iconography – She is represented with red outer garments and blue clothes on the inside. This signifies her original human nature (the red) and her heavenly nature (the blue).

– historically, the color of the flag of revolution – the symbol of the wrath of people.

– in Indian culture, red symbolizes purity and is the color of the bride’s garment. Naturally, it also signifies fertility and prosperity.

– the color of demons and Hell, as represented in icons and Renaissance art. Red next to black has something demonic in it.

– ruby stones symbolize power, wealth and luck, as many cultures considered them a stone of kings. Girl, admit that when you are wearing a ruby ring, you feel like a princess! So go ahead and wear it more often.



-I’m sure you can find more ideas for the symbolism of red, as I merely scratched the surface of the subject. Drop a comment below, I’d love to hear your input!





On the negative side, red can induce feelings of: anger, outrage, agitation, restlessness, overheat. If you put too much red on your walls in your house, you might find yourself getting into more arguments with your family…



Circling back to the initial subject:

How do you use the red color to boost your daily mood in your home, in your closet, in your office, or anywhere else you would like? For an intro, here are some ideas: a few red home accents, a red scarf along with your outfit, or crafting something new, with red accents, like a wall décor piece. If you like knitting and crochet, choose your red yarn ball and follow my next tips. Or you can play with some coloring pencils or paint brushes and create something cool, like an artwork or a scrapbook project.

  • First of all, keep in mind that red color is a DOMINANT color. The more you use of it, the more it will take over. So don’t overuse it !! Keep red as an ACCENT, here and there, drops of red, like pretty red flowers popping from a green field.
  • Second: red is a warm color (so use it as an accent décor if you are looking to warm up a little bit a room that overlooks the north side of your home, which gets less heat and sunlight).
  • Third: warm colors (red, yellow, orange) come towards you, and cooler colors (blue, green, purple) tend to go away from you, in terms of space. Also, warmer colors on objects tend to make them look bigger. So red will be a color that will stimulate, penetrate the room with more vibe and “move” towards you.
  • In addition, if an object in a room is colored uniformly with the same color, it will be perceived more as a shape. If the same object is painted with various shades of a color, or multicolored, then it is perceived more as a color, not a shape – this is useful if you want to create a painterly, artistic effect (a multicolored object) versus having a bold single-colored object, which is good if you want to create a simple, powerful design. Both of them are useful and it only depends on your taste and inspiration.


Extra tip:


For interior décor lovers, you can use red on small items, like: throw pillows, vases, lamps and keep in mind that if you want to make the red pop up even more, the other colors in the room have to be more subdued. For example, gray is a great friend of red, because it doesn’t have any color to it and it makes red more visible (imagine a gray couch with red pillows). Green is a complementary color of red, but don’t throw a very vivid green (unless you want to have both colors “talk” in the same time). Use a green that stays a few tones lower than red. This way you’ll have red as your spark and it will give you that energetic vibe you are looking for. Sage green matches a lot of hues of red very well, it is a toned down green, very popular right now and really pretty on a lot of home decor items, including the walls.

Here are some décor items that I created and are available in my online collections on several print-on-demand websites. Click on the images and you’ll go directly to viewing the product in the store :

For those of you who like the do-it-yourself approach, I created a few tips about how to paint with red colors:







In nature, there are many hues of red, and also many names for them. Pigments are extracted from various sources: clays, rocks, insects, synthetic chemicals… Their names sometimes tell you where they come from: Sienna red, coral red…

First, begin with a pure red color (like one of the above). It can be for example a scarlet red, or magenta, or fuchsia… etc, etc. Your choice.

Start simple: mix red with tiiiny bits of white. You’ll notice how you’ll start to distemper the red and create TINTS. It turns toward pink, doesn’t it?

Next, go back to the original red color and add very small bits of black. That will create a darker, deeper, richer red. Those are SHADES of red.

Then, mix the TINTS with the SHADES.

How fun is that? Those are called TONES. Seems like we are playing the piano, except it’s with colors.


Here’s another trick:

Play with combining a red color with different other colors. A tiiiny bit of blue (like… keep 95% red and bring in only 5% of the other color, otherwise, too much of the other color might take over). You’ll notice how red will slightly turn into a purple nuance. Then add white and black – see what happens! Keep on blending the results. It’s an infinite game.



Try this technique with red and any color. You’ll find surprising effects. Some of them turn into other vivid colors (like orange = red + yellow), some turn into grays and olives and browns.

The secret to keep the colors in the realm of reds is to keep the other color you mix into red within a certain threshold (5-10%, sometimes even a bit more).

 After you obtained a significant amount of red tints, shades and tones, it’s time to play another game!




In conclusion, now you can use red in a more informed way, most of all knowing that it is loaded with such powerful meanings and subliminal messages.

Hey! I hope you found some useful stuff in this pile of info about red. Feel free to pin any of my images to your artsy board on Pinterest and spread the love for red! Have a fantastic day!

Author: Andreea Dumez

Author: Andreea Dumez

Artist in-chief

Andreea Dumez is an painter and surface pattern designer, helping people find their inner colors and decor ideas.

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