The Use of Color in Art: To Be Bold, or Not to Be?


16 x 16, oil

That is not the question. Let experience be the guide, and your instinct. It’s not an either/or question.

In my youth, only bold and strong color was interesting to me. My home was a Crayola crayon explosion. “Wow,” people would say, much to my surprise. You mean a hot pink bathroom, red kitchen and orange living room aren’t the norm? It never occurred to me I was being bold; it was just what was appealing to me.

When it came to painting the same rules applied: the more color, the more “true” the art felt to me.


9 x 12, oil

Then sometime more recently, as my forties settled in, and some more life had happened, my palette changed. My studio turned from orange all over to deep charcoals and soft grays. My entire house got repainted, in fact. “Bold” color segued into more soothing, soft colors. I found the mostly colorful art my husband and I collected, both before we met and together, popped against the more limited color palette. I found myself enjoying it more. And my eyes felt more at peace.


14 x 14, oil

At the same time, my art found grounding, greyed-down color to anchor the bold color, or the palette became black and white with splashes of color. Of course, I still adore color, and colorful art. But restraint has also become seductive.


9 x 12, oil

Recently, the question was posed: “Is your change of palette a reflection of your mood?” My answer: maybe. But maybe more so a reflection of time and experience. Then again, my next decade, for reasons unknown to me, might find a return to the bold and brash. I doubt it, though: I think the older we all get, the more alluring the gift of restraint is.

What do you think? As always, I appreciate your feedback. Leave a comment or join the ongoing discussion on Facebook and Instagram. See you out there!

About Stephanie Schlatter Art

Stephanie Schlatter is an Artist who draws from the world for inspiration. While she calls Grand Rapids, Michigan, home she’s often off on new adventures. For more than a decade, her journeys have taken her across the globe. She has studied art both locally and abroad, including time in Mexico, where she decided to shift her focus from photography to painting. Stephanie's travels led her to found Absolutely Art: A Project for Change in 2006. Through this non-profit organization, she brings art instruction to the children of Ethiopia while supporting their education. Stephanie's work reflects an expression influenced by other cultures which resonates a variety of influences that have given her work direction.

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