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8. Orange

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In the natural colour spectrum, orange is the colour that appears between red and yellow. You may, therefore, be surprised to note that the colour is actually analysed after both red and yellow. There is a reason for this, however. Orange is a colour which draws its qualities from the colours which surround it in the light spectrum. Red and yellow become the parents to orange which, like most children, maintains many of the basic attributes of both parents, but synthesises these into a separate, individual third principle.

Orange is, in its true shade, an exact mix of equal quantities of red and yellow, and contains a fine balance of both their qualities. It is a stimulating, energetic and vital shade, because of its red elements; however, the golden yellow qualities temper the initial recklessness towards a more thoughtful and balanced view on life. Equally red's single-mindedness tends to counter-act yellow's flightiness, so that orange projects are often conceived from a combination of analytical observation and instinctive reaction. Such projects are usually explored fully in the research stages, but there is still a tendency to initiate and begin, but then to move on towards some new target - a feature of both incorporated colours.

Like the other two, orange is a fiery warm colour, much associated with the physical aspects of life. Nonetheless, whilst both red and yellow have a tendency to spill over into extremities of either expression or of rationale, orange tends to harmonically combine the emotional engagement of the one with the reason and logic of the other. The result is a dynamic, enthusiastic and enlivening colour which generates good feeling and commands attention.


This colour, whilst balancing the aspects of both its parents, also produces some particular qualities all of its own. There is a marked degree of attachment to material and physical principles, leading to a good-time, happy-go-lucky mentality. This can, of course, tend to degenerate into a devil may care self-indulgence if the orange influence is overly emphasised. However, at the same time, it is precisely that carefree attitude which makes orange a powerful agent of regeneration and balance when one is anxious or frightened.

Because the colour is actually created by careful blending of two other colours, it embodies the qualities of the peacemaker - a role which you can see is necessary between these two parental sources. Its influence makes careful and fair evaluation easy - probably because in the end product the colour is largely unconcerned with the eventual outcome.

Orange, it seems, can be totally impartial simply because it is too easy going to place much importance on the overall outcome of any given situation! There is a strong element of tact and diplomacy in the colour, along with a sympathetic but objective ability to appraise and assimilate. It should, however, be pointed out that judgement does not really exist within the orange function....that process is left to others once orange has presented both sides of the story, so to speak.

This objective appraisal emphasises another important aspect of the colour orange. That is its basic neutrality. There is a tremendous quality of unbiased consideration here. All elements of a situation are subjected to scrutiny, and presented for final analysis, usually to another force.

So this colour works best for us at times when we need to assess ourselves or others without allowing personal emotions or allegiances to interfere. It helps us to gather together the salient points of any given situation, before reverting to the yellow decision making process

People who choose to wear orange regularly are usually lively and interesting. They are generally friendly and generous, curious and eager to help. They give the impression of thoroughly enjoying life, radiating energy and confidence. Extremely gregarious people, they enjoy good company and experience no trouble in attracting it. They usually have a good sense of humour and generally consider that laughter is the best medicine for every ill. Since they are positive, they find that those who are unwilling to help themselves are an anachronism, and can therefore take over such people's lives in a misguided attempt to put things right - with the best will in the world, of course.

It is also interesting to note how many people actively dislike the colour orange! Next to green, it appears to be the most unpopular colour in the spectrum - somewhat undeservedly it seems. It is hard to isolate a definite reason for this dislike. Perhaps it is triggered by the sheer command of the colour in its true shade - for it demands to be noticed. Maybe the abreaction is indicative of our insecurity when faced with some-one or something which has no real need for anything but itself. It is often equated with both selfishness and with aggression. There is certainly a selfish quality to the colour, but absolutely no reason to assume that it induces aggressive tendencies, yet I have observed vehement reactions to it at times. Perhaps the people who react most strongly against it are those who often find themselves unable to say 'no' to the demands of others, but somehow mind that they behave that way.

Too much orange in the environment will tend to over-stimulate eventually. Rather like both of its parents it needs to be cut with a balancing agent in order to naturally harness its powers. Blue mixes well, as do greens, aqua shades and some cream tones.

Lighter Shades of Orange

As you might expect from a colour which derives its true shade from the combination of two other colours, the lighter tones of orange are also achieved by blends of other shades. This category runs from peach and apricot, through light orange and up to gold.

Peach is a blend of orange white and pink. It is a soft, romantic, yet healing and energising shade. There is vitality and tenderness here, but a great deal of stimulus from the orange energy too. The cheery nonchalance of orange mixes with the idealism of pink to produce a warm and caring view of the world. In particular, peach acts upon the emotional balance of the viewer. Because orange is a balancing colour between two forms of dynamic action, it tends to reduce extremism and over-reaction. Add to this the softness of pink tones and you arrive at a highly effective healing shade for all forms of mental distress which stem from an inadequate sense of self. Lack of confidence, nervousness, low self esteem, unassertiveness and poor self-image are all assisted by exposure to peach in the environment and in clothing.

Apricot is another of the lighter tones of orange, this time containing rather more yellow than does peach. This is a remarkably comfortable colour to live with, combining the mental stimulation of yellow, and the energy and vitality of orange. It is a good colour for study rooms, classrooms, and boardrooms - not so demanding as golden yellow, yet still promoting concentration and enhancing one's ability to absorb new information. There's a certain element of speculative assessment to the colour; it is rather less analytical than yellow, not so readily impatient nor restless. This is due to the balancing effect of orange. It is a good colour to live with, relieving mental fatigue and regenerating a tired mind, tending to maintain good health and liveliness.

It is hard to say where light orange stops being orange and becomes golden yellow. The lighter shades of pure orange shade upwards towards gold, and eventually take on the properties of that colour. This is the first of the Colour Harmonic shades which does not eventually become white as it lightens. Instead it becomes gold, orange’s higher analogue, which then lightens towards white.

Lighter oranges are useful warm colours to live with, gently stimulating positive reactions, and dispelling negativity and depression. They are easier to introduce into the environment than the more demanding true shades, and less likely to attract the sort of negative reaction to true orange we have already noted in some people.

Darker Shades of Orange


Ench Gallery

Here again we approach a colour which, in its darkest tones, becomes brown - and as before we shall leave the consideration of brown until later. However dark orange easily becomes sienna, burnt umber, russet or tan. These are colours we traditionally associate with autumn - the colour of leaves and earth and bare trees. The darker tones still contain a good deal of energy and warmth, but also communicate a stillness, a sort of cessation of growth time for sleep and rest. They relax the viewer, inducing a sense of material security and well-being, of warmth and safety. For this reason, they can be regarded as useful when one is feeling disassociated from routine or to provide a calm oasis during times of change. However large doses of these shades will eventually produce moroseness and morbidity, so they should be used with care and refreshed with brighter, more positive tones.

Traditional Applications of Orange

To indicate fire or warmth, often with yellows and reds; for autumn and the harvest; to attract attention to the wearer (luminous orange waistcoats as worn by workmen, etc.).

Traditional Applications of Lighter Shades of Orange

Very few traditional applications noted here.

Traditional Applications of Darker Shades of Orange

Again, for autumn, though not for harvest (this being a true orange function); associated with ageing - as when used as a 'wash' over photographs to give the impression of age.

Symbolic Associations

Sometimes attributed to the planet Mercury (along with mauves, lilacs and blues), sometimes to Jupiter and sometimes to the Sun; in Quabbala the colour belongs primarily to Hod, the Sephirah of Splendour, and relates to the amalgamation of male and female forces into a unity of form; in Chinese and Oriental disciplines the colour is used to indicate happiness, harmony and love.

Symbolic and Traditional Combinations

In fact, there are few traditional combinations of this colour with others - perhaps the most obvious being the green and orange linked with Irish nationalism, this is a particularly interesting one, for both colours relate strongly to harmony and balance.

Applications of Orange

True orange is quite difficult to live with, on a long-term basis for it is highly stimulating. It is best approached in decorating as a colour which is used as a ‘splash' with other, less demanding colours. It works well this way in any environment which is required to generate high level energy in both a physical and an intellectual mode, so can work particularly well in the classrooms of young children, in playrooms, in nursery areas and anywhere else where learning by play takes place. It will always make a cheerful, happy-go-lucky atmosphere and would therefore also be useful in small quantities in rooms which are associated with heavy or emotional atmospheres. However, it should be used in moderation, for in large quantities it will tend to over stimulate.

True orange is another of those colours that we wear only occasionally, and generally during the summer months (maybe as a natural response to its fire associations during the warmer season). In fact, if you have ever worn true orange yourself you'll probably have noticed that you provoke definite reactions - and because some people have that abreaction we mentioned earlier, not all the attention you receive will necessarily have been positive! Still, you'll certainly have been noticed!

This is not a colour to wear when you want to impress your viewer with your efficiency, good nature and reliability, so don't wear it at job interviews (save in little splashes) in case the person who is interviewing you is adverse to the colour. Conversely, if you're the one doing the interviewing, and you need to find people with a steady, flexible nature, wear lots of orange! The people who become uncomfortable are probably not for you.

Orange and white is bold and striking; orange and yellow is sunny - though pale yellow would be gentler than the true shade; orange and true green is balanced and strong, but pale green would be overwhelmed; orange and brown is warm and autumnal, but orange and tan is a bit indecisive; orange and black is very strong, but for some reason this combination makes me feel I'm being challenged, somehow; orange and blue is startling; orange and purple is positively flamboyant!

Applications of Lighter Shades of Orange

In its lighter shades orange works well in any environment where healing, learning, negotiating or combined physical and intellectual activities take place. these are exceptionally good tones to use in workshop or office environments, in areas where conflict or debate take place, in waiting rooms where there is tension and worry, and in particularly cold rooms where the shades will warm them softly.


Joey Cutrie

Useful combinations for decor would be green and peach for lounges and bathroom; pinks and peaches would work well in entrance halls, because of their cheery welcoming impression; aqua and pale orange would be effective in bed-sitting areas; peach and gold would be softly stimulating for study rooms or classrooms.

Lighter shades are regularly worn by most women and more recently, by an increasing number of men. Use these tones when you feel a little insecure, when you have been under the weather health-wise or when you want to make an impression of self-contained compassion upon your viewers. These are good shades for therapists, healers, doctors, social workers, personal advisors and so on. They energise gently, reassuring the viewer and tending to settle misgivings and nervousness.

When mixed with white, the lighter shades convey a sense of innocence and buoyancy; with light blue or aqua, they soothe and calm; with grey they suggest an objective sort of compassion and understanding; with mauves and violets they are usually somewhat uncomfortable because you are sending mixed messages which will tend to confuse; with black they become somewhat wishy washy generally, again, because you’re sending mixed messages; with green they suggest reliability and security; with true orange you emphasise the carefree aspects of the colours; with red they can tend to be a little inflammatory and challenging.

Useful combinations for decor would be green and peach for lounges and bathroom; pinks and peaches would work well in entrance halls, because of their cheery welcoming impression; aqua and pale orange would be effective in bed-sitting areas; peach and gold would be softly stimulating for study rooms or classrooms.

Lighter shades are regularly worn by most women and by an increasing number of men. Use these tones when you feel a little insecure, when you have been under the weather health-wise or when you want to make an impression of self-contained compassion upon your viewers. These are good shades for therapists, healers, doctors, social workers, personal advisors and so on. They energise gently, reassuring the viewer and tending to settle misgivings and nervousness.

Applications of Darker Shades of Orange

Again, I would suggest sparing application of the darker shades of orange in home decor - they can tend to be ponderous and somewhat overwhelming if used extensively in smaller rooms In large rooms, though, they can play many of the same functions as darker reds, suggesting opulence and security, and inferring a sense of wealth and plushness.

Russets and umber shades can be quite effective in clothing when you need to convey an impression of sobriety, but still maintain a sense of inner warmth, so these colours can be useful in a working environment which requires somewhat sober dress. However, unless they are lightened and tempered by true and lighter shades, their use in leisure clothing is somewhat limited.


And there you have orange - happy-go-lucky, carefree, self-contained, balanced, energising and pacifying. It builds a bridge between the two active principles which surround it, taking the best from each and synthesising both into a harmonic whole.

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