Red is one of the “most visible” of  colors – hence firetrucks and stop signs. It’s the color of energy, passion, and intensity – and so much more.

Here are 10 quotes from artists and designers on the curious connotations of riotous red.

1)  Red is the ultimate cure for sadness.   – Bill Blass

A Dinner Table at Night by John Singer Sargent, 1884, 20″ x 27″

2)  It is not pure fantasy to say that the color red is like the sound of a trumpet.   – Joyce Carey

3)  Painters use red like spice.    – Derek Jarman

4)  I want a red to be sonorous, to sound like a bell.  If it doesn’t turn out that way, I add more reds and other colors until I get it.    – Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Mark Rothko, Untitled/Red on Red 1969


5)  Artists can color the sky red because they know it’s blue.  Those of us who aren’t artists must color things the way they really are, or people might think we’re stupid.    – Jules Feiffer

6)  My mother warned me to avoid things colored red.    – Claes Oldenburg

Eugene Delacroix, The Death of Sardanopalus, 1827, 154 X 195 inches
7)  You can’t go wrong with the use of red; every painting should have red in it.  – George De Groat
8)  A certain blue enters your soul.  A certain red has an effect on your blood pressure. . . and
A thimbleful of red is redder than a bucketful.    – Henri Matisse
9)  Of all the hues, reds have the most potency.  If there is one electric blue, a dozen reds are so charged.  Use them to punctuate white, burn into bronzes, or dynamite black.  –Jack Lenor Larsen

Georgia O’Keefe, Red Hill and Bones, 1941

10)  Oh, yes!  He loved yellow, did good Vincent . . . when the two of us were together in Arles, both of us insane, and constantly at war over beautiful colors, I adored red; where could I find a perfect vermilion?    – Paul Gauguin

John Waterhouse, “I Am Half Sick of Shadows,” said the Lady of Shalott, 1915

If you need more color expertise in your artist’s toolbox, check out some of these deep-dive DVDs on color theory and how to apply it to create brighter and more compelling paintings.

Giovanni Battista Moroni’s Portrait of a Woman (around 1575)
The Frick Collection, Gift from the Assadour O. Tavitian Trust, 2022; photo: Joseph Coscia Jr.


The renowned Frick Museum in New York has acquired its first Renaissance portrait of a woman, and it is more intriguing by far than many better known portraits of men from the period. Giovanni Battista Moroni’s 1575 portrait depicts an unknown woman with an imperious sidelong gaze in a pink brocade dress and white neck ruff, with fine jewelry in her hair. Visitors can meet her gaze from 12 January, when the painting will go on view.

The Moroni portrait joins the Frick’s renowned collection of Old Masters paintings and European sculpture and decorative arts, originally established by its founder, the industrialist Henry Clay Frick. It complements Renaissance portraits of men by such artists as Bronzino, Titian and Tintoretto. But while several of the sitters in those works are known, the identity of Moroni’s muse remains a mystery.