How to Add More Happy to Your Painting and Paper Art!


There may be no better time than a time of crisis to help influence and shape our surroundings, mood and others for the better.

For many of this, while the crisis of COVID-19 persists, it’s also turned into a state of perpetual anxiety as we wait…

and wait….

and wait.

It takes effort to keep one’s spirits up! One thing that helps me maintain a optimistic, hopeful outlook is including happy colors into my artwork and surroundings.

Like many of you, I’ve loved lots of color since I was a child. But my understanding of color exploded like a rocket a few years ago when I learned about color psychology and the idea of seasonal archetypes.

The concept of seasonal archetypes came from a blogger who runs a branding company. She taught a course I consumed and continued searching for more information. I wasn’t so concerned with how scientific the concept of seasonal archetypes is (it’s more of a guide than a science). It works! It’s made figuring out color combinations easier and so much fun!

When I’m creating, I search for that elusive color combination that makes a painting or piece of art sing and dance.

Others may prioritize composition, but I color is king to me.

You know what I mean, right?

It’s often (not always) the color aesthetic that gets you to stop and linger for a few minutes longer. We all have different colors that we’re drawn to for lots of different reasons, but there are colors that have a universal appeal in increasing a sense of optimism and cheer.

I feel like I’ll take you down a HUGE rabbit trail if we dive into the seasonal archetypes and color combinations here. I’ll say this, learning how the seasonal archetypes work opened such a new way of thinking about color and how to combine certain colors. It made me much more observant about my natural surroundings when I’m out for a walk or why certain aesthetics in stores or friend’s homes really ‘speak’ to me. If you want to learn the overview of the seasonal archetypes, I wrote a more thorough post here.

But, for our subject today – putting more happy and optimism in our art – here’s an overview.

We’re going to hang out in the SPRING seasonal archetype (convenient, right?) to make our paint and paper art pieces brim over with feelings of joy and sunshine!

The Spring Seasonal Archetype

COLORS of spring – the colors of spring are warm, bright and light. Think of the spring season: bright blues, yellows, oranges, purples, pinks, cinnamon browns, blue-ish gray, cream, all sorts of greens that are light, bright and lush. Colors feel light, as if they might bounce if you flicked them!

All the colors are bright and light, but not pale. Think pink for a minute. We are looking for the bright pinks of tulips or azalea bushes.

SHAPES of spring – shapes are soft, curved and round. There are few hard edges, lots of soft, rolling, light shapes. Fonts (if we’re talking branding) would be light and round, but not too elegant or forma (that would be a summer font).

DESCRIPTIVE WORDS for spring – fun, light-hearted, enthusiastic, happy, cheerful, dreamy, hope, excited, full of energy, anticipation, wonder, magical, new, fresh, inspirational, new growth, new birth, happy, moving fast, carefree, vibrant, sunshine

In the picture below, note the bright, spring, happy feel of the quote card. This came from a paper pack that was ONLY spring themed colors. I’ve been using them in lots of things this year!


Also, a side note: What NOT to use when you want more “happy” and “optimistic” art

Stay away from stark white and black. It’s too extreme for spring and it will wash out the other colors, taking away their vibrancy.

Stay away from all muted colors- those will zap the energy of the art piece. Both the summer and the autumn have a muted look to them (autumn is muted warm and summer has a muted cool).

Stay away from drama colors. Silver and gold is not quite the right tone for spring per se as well as the colors of a pure red rose which reflect more of the elegance and formality of a winter palette.

Spring is full of energy and so don’t be afraid to use a group of bright colors together and mix up the combinations. Orange and blue are fun. Green and pink and yellow is another fun combination. Since it is spring right now, check out the flowers in the stores for a selection of what is seasonal right now.

Bring it all Together

Okay, so to bring additional cheer and optimism into your life, choose color predominantly in the spring category OR use a spring color to add zest to your art, journals and other creations.

So….in review

LOTS of yellows, bright & warm greens, sky blues, warm pinks and purples, light creams, orange (not peach, make sure it’s a good orange).

If you want inspiration, peruse Pinterest and search “spring flowers.” A million, bazillion ideas will come up.

I’m using colors mostly from the spring palette right now. While I love pinks, I knew infusing more spring yellows and blues would move me out of a palette I’m used to and bring a sense of playful optimism (yellow) and calm thinking (blue) to my day.

I’ve included a link to the video here. You can watch it on the YouTube channel (and I think it pops up here too).


Play with One Color at a Time

Practice playing with yellow. Yellow is predominantly a color representing cheer, energy and an overall happy feeling, whether it is a delicate yellow or the robust, grain yellow in a Van Gogh painting.

The fun of watercolor is that we can create so many different shades and hues by mixing colors. Trying using mostly yellow, but adding some orange or pink to it. You’ll create a beautiful array of colors that convey a sense of optimism and happiness!

Speaking of paintings, many painters painted in color themes. Monet’s flowers and water lilies are predominantly spring-esque. As mentioned above, Van-Gogh utilized a lot of colors with an autumn feel: robust, hearty, industrious, strong colors like goldenrod yellow, dark blues and muted, sap greens.

If you want to create more cohesive and color-rich paintings and journal pages, the best thing I can recommend is to become a student of nature. Look at the colors of the plants, animals, rocks and even the dirt!

Next, start paying attention to the way different aesthetics make you feel. Notice your favorite stores or the room in your friends’ home you feel you could stay in forever. Note the colors, the space (busy or sparse) and the shapes of the furniture, artwork, all that stuff.

You’ll become much more proficient not only in combining colors to create beautiful artwork, but also in the best shapes, textures and amount of space that compliments each season.

I hope you sense more joy as you incorporate more spring colors into your art! Please tag me on IG with your lovely art pieces. I’d love to see them!

I’d love for you to paint this lovely spring home with me! Watch it here or on YouTube.