God had a Color Plan! An Artist’s Viewpoint



From our earliest childhood days, most of us were given a box of crayons and a coloring book, and asked to “sit down and color,” a quiet activity approved of by most parents.

We found that “coloring” was an interesting activity as we made colorful marks back and forth on the coloring book’s pages.  Some of us were so delighted at our colorful marks that we extended them to other books, the walls, and ourselves (all no-no’s in most households).

When we experimented with crayons and paints in elementary school (or earlier) where we were admonished to “stay within the lines,” we learned a bit of color theory.  We learned that the primary colors, red, yellow and blue, could not be made by mixing any of the other colors together.  We also found that each of the secondary colors, orange, green and violet, could be made by combining two primary colors.  An example would be that mixing red and yellow makes orange.  Perhaps by experimenting further, we even discovered that the tertiary colors, red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet and red-violet, could be made by the mixing of a primary color and an adjacent secondary color (example:  mixing red and orange makes red-orange) and that by adding white or black we could lighten or darken a color.

Color was everywhere in our environment and we tended to take its existence for granted.  But have we stopped to consider just where those colors originated?

God the Creator

The King James Version (KJV) of the scriptures tell us that God is the Creator.

Genesis 1:1-2 states:  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:3 – And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:4 – And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Because the following verse (Genesis 1:5) goes on to state that God called the light Day, and the darkness Night, it is common to consider light only as it relates to day and night.  But there is more to light than this.

What is the Origin of Color?

In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton experimented with a ray of sunlight passing through a prism and observed that the sunlight ray broke into a spectrum of seven colors (this is called refracted light).  These colors were arranged in the following order:  red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, the colors of the rainbow.*  He then used a second prism and discovered that he could recombine the colors of the rainbow into white light, like the light of the sunlight with which he had originally experimented.  Newton’s experiments proved that colors are actually components of light.

Sir Isaac Newton’s experiment with refracted light proves that when God said, Let there be light (Genesis 1:3 KJV), He was creating color. By creating light, God was actually creating color.

First Mention of Colors in Scripture

The first mention of a color in the scriptures is the color green in the first book Moses called Genesis.

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. Genesis 1:30 (KJV)

Other first mentions in scripture of specific colors include:

Genesis 25:25           Red

Genesis 30:35           White

Genesis 38:28           Scarlet

Exodus 25:4              Blue

Exodus 25:4              Purple

Leviticus 13:30          Yellow

Leviticus 13:31          Black

Not appearing in the King James Version of the scriptures are the colors orange, violet, or any of the tertiary colors, i.e., red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet and red-violet.

In light, white is the presence of all colors and black is the absence of all colors.  In pigments, however, white is the absence of all color whereas black is the presence of all colors.  Of course, the purists among us would not include white or black as colors.  I am including them here nevertheless as they are used in the making of art.

The word, colours is mentioned in Genesis 37:3, while colour appears later in Leviticus 13:55.  The word, color, is not included in the King James Version.

A Bit of Color Theory

As a refresher on the subject of color, presented here is a bit of color theory.

The primary colors are red, yellow and blue.  Primary colors cannot be made by any mixture of other colors.

The secondary colors are orange, green and violet.  Each secondary color is made by combining two primary colors (example:  mixing yellow and blue makes green).

The tertiary colors are red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet and red-violet.  The tertiary colors are made by combining a primary color and an adjacent secondary color (example:  mixing yellow with green makes yellow-green).

The Rainbow*

Have you ever noticed that the colors of the rainbow* are arranged in a pattern—a specific order?  The next time you see a rainbow, observe the color arrangement.  You will see that the colors, in order from the top of the rainbow’s curve, are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

It is interesting to note that with the exception of indigo (the “Newton” color often disputed by scientists), the rainbow is comprised of only primary and secondary colors.

Final Words

Although God is the Creator, and His creation is full of color, He didn’t find it necessary to reiterate those colors in the scriptures.  It has been left to us, for the most part, to read and contemplate/meditate on God’s word in order to grasp the full meaning of scripture.  I hope that this essay has been useful in that regard.

*The word, rainbow, is first alluded to in Genesis 9:13-16; the term is “bow.”  The actual word, rainbow, however, appears later, in Revelation 4:3 and Revelation 10:1 (KJV).

Originally published May 31, 2009 in Chiaroscuro Magazine on WordPress.com at http://chiaroscuromagazine.wordpress.com

2 Responses to “God had a Color Plan! An Artist’s Viewpoint”

  1. 1 Rosilu
    July 28, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Carol, While looking over some sewing book reviews I rabbit trailed over to your blog…the title for this essay stuck out(I love it!) Go sister! As ther is also a plan for each of us: I must paint! Thanks for the encouragement through the truths in this essay.(I was raised “in darkness” and as I have now been brought to “the light” and he now lives in me, I do greatly rejoice in the endless possibilities that God has for anyone one of his creation who he creates and calls to be an artist!)

    • July 29, 2010 at 2:08 pm


      Thank you so much for your response to “God had a Color Plan! An Artist’s Viewpoint!” I am so pleased to know that you are encouraged by this piece, and I hope you will read my other posts as well, both on this blog and on my magazine, “Chiaroscuro Magazine” (http://chiaroscuromagazine.wordpress.com). Chiaroscuro Magazine!–a place where creativity flourishes. Our mission is to foster understanding and appreciation of creativity and Christianity.

      God Bless You as you pursue your artwork (by the way, what type of art do you make??),

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Photograph on left, view out of my studio window.


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