Fresh Color Inspiration from the World's Greatest Masterpieces - Carney
Color Mural

Fresh Color Inspiration from the World’s Greatest Masterpieces

The need for fresh sources of color inspiration is very real for marketers and designers. We work on smaller projects like a one-off poster or event invitation, and more ambitious projects like creating new and comprehensive brand guidelines for a startup.

So where do you turn for inspiration when your inspiration has run dry? Sometimes it’s nice to get away from the pixels and back to the canvas.

For example, when creating the color palette for the Carnegie Museum of Art website we drew inspiration from the museum‘s collection, specifically Van Gogh’s “Wheat Fields after the Rain.” 

But what if you don’t have to have a project with a built-in collection of thousands of works of art? We found another fun way to draw inspiration from the artists of the past.

And you don’t have to become a museum thief or time traveler to do it.

Designer and color enthusiast Ryan McGuire has created a curated collection of color palettes based on “masterpieces of the world’s greatest artists.” The website is aptly named Color Lisa.

And, yeah, it makes us smile.

There are lots of artists and color palettes to explore, but here are a few highlights:

Leonardo DaVinci
I suppose you can’t have a website called Color Lisa without drawing on the colors of its namesake, “Mona Lisa.” Pairs well with brands that are natural, practical or have an eco-friendly story to tell. 

Colors inspired by Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa

Frida Kahlo
Like a bolder version of the Mona Lisa’s color pallette, Kahlo’s self-portrait provides a more intense green and gold and a splash of burnt orange. Pairs well with ag-tech brands, bistros and coffee shops.

Georgia O’Keeffe
From the mother of American modernism comes a cool, floral-inspired color scheme from “Abstraction Blue”. Depending on whether you emphasize the darker tones or the lighter tones, it pairs well with legal firms and coastal vacation rental companies.

Colors inspired by Georgia O’Keefe’s Abstraction Blue

M.C. Escher
If Escher makes you think mainly of shades of graphite, you may be surprised with the vibrant and playful palette derived from Escher’s “Gravity.” Pairs well with energetic retail brands and yummy looking ice-cream stands.

Colors inspired by M. C. Escher’s Gravity

And there’s plenty more where those came from.

Short of pulling a Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and loading up a time-traveling phone booth with your favorite artists from the past, Color Lisa is a great way to get color inspiration from the old (and not so old) masters.

You just might find an interesting origin story for the color scheme of your next project.


Colorful and inspiring cover photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash.



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