Anyone flummoxed by the vast choice of colours on a paint chart need look no further than the work of their favourite painters for help, says Amelia Thorpe
Amelia Thorpe on colour from art
MOROCCAN Flame or Tangerine Twist? Collective Coral or Toasted Terracotta? Silken Sunrise or Caribbean Dawn? No matter how many samples you lavish on a wall, the seemingly infinite choice of paint colours can strike fear into the heart of the indecisive—often resulting in some unchallenging option that won’t scare the horses (but which also won’t put a spring into their step).
Colour is one of the key factors that influence our opinion of a work of art and has a deep impact on the subconscious, so there’s a convincing logic to the idea of choosing one of the hues used by the great painters—the work of Turner, Ravilious and Rothko can all offer a rich seam of ideas to plunder (the real thing tends to be a better, more thrilling hunting ground than a book or a Google search).
However, the source of inspiration doesn’t have to be priceless works of art—any painting, print or textile can be enough to kick-start an entire scheme.
For this feature, we asked those at the cliff face of colour to choose the most inspiring hues that would precipitate an entire decorating look from their favourite paintings. All paint colours displayed are for illustration purposes only Facing page: Roses (1890) (oil on canvas) Vincent van Gogh (1853–90)
‘Pitch Blue has that timeless appeal and depth of colour. It can look extremely lively when paired with shades such as All White’ Charlotte Cosby, Farrow & Ball
‘Taking inspiration from Sargent, I like to use Plum Tree to ground a fresh, airy palette of soft muted shades or powdery pastels’ Dominic Mylands, Mylands ‘This painting fills a room with joy, warmth and a burst of colour. Our Orange Aurora could be blended with other shades, such as Tuscan Red, to create this effect’ Andy Greenall, Little Greene
‘I absolutely love the colour combinations in all of Eric Ravilious’s paintings, they are so subtle; I have a print of Interior at Furlongs at home in a step-shaped frame, which I painted in Old White’ Annie Sloan ‘The bold colours in this piece are anchored by a definitive and classic dark charcoal, so the palette is perfectly balanced. Our new Black Ink shade is an impeccable soft black’ Tricia Guild, Designers Guild
Plum Tree No 238 Marble Matt Emulsion, £44 for 21∕2 litres, Mylands (020 8670 9161; www.mylands.com) Red, Orange, Orange on Red (1962) (oil on canvas) Mark Rothko (1903–70)
Orange Aurora, Tuscan Red, Attic II absolute matte emulsion, £42 for 21∕2 litres, Little Greene (020–7935 8844; www. littlegreene.com)
The Church of Santa Maria della Salute, Venice (about 1904–9) (watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil) John Singer Sargent (1856–1925)
Invisible Green emulsion, £45 for 21∕2 litres, Edward Bulmer Natural Paint (01544 388535; www. edwardbulmer paint.co.uk)
Pitch Blue, estate emulsion, £43.50 for 21∕2 litres, Farrow & Ball (01202 876141; www. farrow-ball.com)
Moody blue: Norham Castle: Summer’s Morn (1798) (pencil, watercolour and bodycolour on paper) J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851)
In the Bay of Naples (1980–82) (oil on wood) Howard Hodgkin (1932–2017)
Black Ink Perfect Matt Emulsion, £44 for 21∕2 litres, Designers Guild (020– 7351 5775; www.designersguild.com)
Old White Chalk Paint, £18.95 for 1 litre, Annie Sloan (01865 803168; www.anniesloan.com)
Interior at Furlongs (1939) (colour litho) Eric Ravilious (1903–42)