Colour and creativity

Feature image: Joanna Pinkiewicz, Shaded Pools, 2021.

Joanna Pinkiewicz is a Tasmanian-based artist and designer. Joanna has a deep understanding and experience of colour and works as a fine artist, colour consultant, and colour theory educator. Trained as a scenic artist Joanna has extensive commercial and fine art experience over which time she had developed her relationship with colour using it as a medium for expression.

While we recognise that colour has an emotional impact our reactions to it can be complex, based on the interplay of symbolic and unconscious associations as well personal and cultural conditions [1]. In conversation with Joanna, she observes how some colours, like yellow, tend to make us feel happy, whereas more muted tones can make for a calm and contemplative mood. Joanna says:

“Yellow being one of my earliest favourite colours, and strongly associated with childhood, and that’s not terribly uncommon…a lot of children are attracted to yellow, it’s bright and happy. But it’s symbolically also related to intelligence and development and growth.”

Listen to Joanna’s interview:

Symbolism and colour

Joanna is interested in the alternative colour theory of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe which embodies the viewers’ perception of colour. In her ongoing colour research, she observes how visitors respond to paintings and moves them around to test the lighting conditions in which colours work best.

Joanna Pinkiewicz, Alchemy of Becoming, 2021.

As an abstract artist, Joanna also explores symbols to open a “dialogue with the unknown” [2]. Her new body of work, Spirit of Abstraction [3] uses a vocabulary of symbols that connect to themes of intelligence, infinity, space, and creation and trace their origins back to old European cultures. Joanna states that:

The reduction of metaphysical concepts into symbols is a powerful cultural magic. Many such symbols, such as the lozenge or the circle emerged across cultures and across the globe and survived for thousands of years of colonisation and co-option. It is possible, that the survival has been dependent on the process of reduction and the symbols still hold its original meaning and power.”

Joanna Pinkiewicz, Construction of Space, 2021.
Connecting with colour

While colour and symbols can tap into hidden meaning, we have seen that during the pandemic people need tangible ways to create and connect. As a teacher Joanna noticed that:

“There is that renewed interest in people wanting to do something creative and wanting to connect…I think it’s kind of fundamental to who we are, even if we’re not consciously aware to have something that is our way from our responsibilities away from our work. Something that gives us joy, something that we can feel present or grounded, or we are exploring still, that we can grow with.

Colour classes are a good entry point for students to build their skills, mixing and blending colours abstractly. Joanna often teaches women who come back to study but don’t have a lot of time for themselves. As a teacher she finds that “one of the most important things is to create a space where people want to come to….that is physical and also psychological.”

Colour is complex, it can influence how we feel and dipping into the study of colour can be a rewarding creative process. Artists like Joanna Pinkiewicz use their knowledge and experience working with colour to open a dialogue with the viewer. I look forward to seeing Joanna’s vibrant works for the, Spirit of Abstraction exhibition at the Salamanca Arts Centre in January 2022.

Author: Kerry Turnbull (Director, Engage Arts)

Feature image: Joanna Pinkiewicz, Shaded Pools (detail), 2021. Watercolour on cotton rag. 62cm x 90cm

Spirit of Abstraction catalogue forward by Kerry Turnbull.


1.         Haller, K. Dispelling the confusion over colour psychology. 2012  9/10/2021]; Available from:

2.         Pinkiewicz, J., Spirit of Abstraction exhibition catalogue. 2022: Tasmania.

3.         Salamanca Arts Centre. Spirit of Abstraction. 2021  13/10/2021]; Available from:

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