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  • Writer's pictureVishakha

5 Famous Color Artists Everyone Should Know About

Usage of colors in art has a very rich history that dates back to almost 40,000 years ago. Famous color artists over thousands of years have placed very high importance on the accurate use of color in their artwork. Different shades have been used to convey different meanings, and messages, and invoke different feelings in the minds of the viewers. 

If you closely study the work of some of the greatest artists in history, you will realize they all had their own unique relationship with colors. While some had specific personal choices, some were even said to be obsessed with particular hues.  Nonetheless, there is so much every artist can learn simply by studying how these maestros approached colors for their artwork. To get you one step closer to improving your understanding of colors, here is a list of the top 5 famous color artists and their relationship with colors.


Self-portrait of famous color artist Vincent Van Gogh

  • Vincent Van Gogh 

“How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.”

The painter known for his "Starry Night" and the "Sunflowers'' painting series was obsessed with colors. Initially, like other Dutch artists, he started working with blue and gray tones before he finally discovered complementary colors and how these colors could intensify each other. 

However, even after studying the magic of complementary color tones, this famous color artist discovered their true effect after seeing a ceiling mural by Eugène Delacroix in the Louvre. In his painting of the night cafe, he used the complimentary hues of red and green to depict the spectrum of human emotions. We’ll never exactly know why; technical aptitude with the color, or just personal preference, but Van Gogh really loved the color yellow.

  • Claude Monet

“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.”

Also known as one of the founding fathers of “impressionism,” Monet loved to use colors to create emphasis in his artwork. He used colors to depict the effect of light which can clearly be seen in his water lily paintings, which is a series of roughly 250 oil paintings.

You can also notice the extensive use of lead white in the series, which is highly discussed to be the leading cause of his cataract and painful blindness. However, after his surgery, he discovered “the true color of the atmosphere,” i.e. violet, which became his new obsession. He aimed to capture the same landscapes multiple times under different lights and seasons. Colors played a key role in helping this famous color artist achieve his goal in over 2500 artworks that he created in his lifetime.

  • Pablo Picasso 

“Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.”

Picasso likely got trapped in a bout of severe depression after losing a very close friend, Carlos Casagemas to suicide. He then entered a period that we now know as the “Blue Period” from 1901-1904.  

Most of the paintings he painted during this dark period used a lot of blue and other dark tones. One of his most famous works from during this period is “The Old Guitarist.” The painting reflects how the excessive use of blue can take the viewers into a state of melancholy. The famous color artist later transversed to the “Rose Period” where he started using more bright pink, orange, and red after falling in love. 

  • Georgia O’ Keeffe

“Colors and shapes make a more definite statement than words.”

O’Keeffe is known for her use of dramatic color palettes in creating her artworks. One of the most influential female American artists, she practiced her art in a very disciplined manner. She was also one of the first American artists who started exploring abstractism. Her choice of colors mostly included bright hues of green, purple, yellow, red, and blue. Combining her dramatic color palette with lines and shapes, you can see many of her artworks have dynamic zones of colors. She preferred to use colors in a way that conveyed even light throughout the artworks as if they were painted at high noon.

  • Joseph Mallord William Turner

“Light is therefore color.”

Before anything, Turner is considered to be a color genius of his time. This child prodigy loved playing with colors and if anything can define him, it is the fact that he never restrained himself from experimenting with new shades. His color palettes and most of his artworks are decked with vibrant shades of yellows, blues, and pinks that he used in his paintings. 

If you look at his works, so many of his paintings consist of Indian yellow, that even now, he is sometimes still mocked as being “afflicted with jaundice.” Critics at that time sneered at him for his “crazy use of colors” because his practices were highly experimental and he embraced every new pigment as soon as he found one. Be it cobalt blue or chrome yellow, he was always on the lookout for new revolutionary pigments.

These Famous Color Artists are Just the Tip of the Iceberg

What we have covered in this blog is just merely a few inches of the surface that hides beneath itself the rich history of colors and how artists have used them over the course of time. We have listed down just five famous color artists, but there are many more such masters who gave colors a whole new meaning. If you ever try to study their works in depth, you will realize there is a whole new world of magic and colors waiting for you.


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