How can you ensure your painting has a bright, joyous feel to it, using colour and light?

One person’s definition of happiness will differ from another, but generally speaking saturated colours are usually considered more cheerful in both Western and Eastern societies. This originates from traditional cultural festivals in which people usually dress up in colourful costumes.

Bright and saturated colours have always been the symbol of celebration — just think about the carnivals in Rio or Venice, the Holi Festival of Colours in India and Nepal, or the celebration costumes worn by tribal societies, which differ greatly to their everyday clothing.

We can also apply modern theories of psychology to suitable colour schemes. Warm colours are usually considered more inviting, and within the warms the oranges and yellows are the most commonly positive colours. This probably comes from the warm light of the sun and fire — an association that can be found on the subconscious of every human being. These colours are also associated with royalty, nobility and wealth in most cultures. As well as choosing the right colour scheme we can also adjust the value range of the image. Although we can’t apply this to every situation, creating a high-key image can help to achieve a brighter mood in the scene. To explain, a high-key image is one in which the lighter values dominate the composition. The middle values and darks are only there to balance out the image and to give the viewer a point of comparison.

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