THE WORDLESS LANGUAGE OF SYMBOLS. SHAPES & COLOURS AND WHY THEY MATTER IN ART

In ART by Tilly5 Comments

People use art in various ways. To represent the world around them, as an expression of their inner world, to make social political statements, to make something more appealing to the eye. But most significantly humans have used art as a wordless language. A language of symbols.  

Example of early symbols that conveyed message that became known as writing.

Shapes were the first markings to convey meaning, something more than purely reflective. Something that could communicate a message. Over the generations particular shapes became embedded in the mass unconscious. Or maybe it was the other way around, of course. Who really knows? Each country would have their nuances in the same way colour does, however their profound meanings are typically the same.  

Symbols are used in differing ways. Some are used as a visual analogy, some as literal instruction or representation whilst some are embedded in far more subtle ways that are unseen by the conscious mind, a method advertisers and the likes have employed for decades. 

Colour is even more curious as it turns out one does not even need to see colour for it to have an effect. Colour therapy (chromotherapy) works on blind people. We are physically and emotionally effected by colour. Colour is, after all, simply another frequency of energy and of course so are we. Physiologically colour relates to melatonin and serotonin production, we experience this daily with the full colour spectrum of day light. Natural chemicals released from the pineal gland affect every cell in the body. It has home in the hypothalamus where it affects emotions. This pineal gland is said to be the seat of what is also called the third eye, our intuitive state. The gateway between physical experience and the knowing spirit.

​They say Velazquez loaded The Surrender of Breda with hidden erotica symbols.

In addition to specific colour meanings there are also the colour combinations. To me, the most interesting is red and white (to be the subject of another article). And as if all this were not enough, the positioning of particular shapes and colours as well as which colours are together in the image. All together adds extra depth and complexity to this language. 

Known as neuroplasticity, the science proves we have brains that are constantly capable of restructuring. We know that connections form in the physical matter of the brain and become part of our subconscious instinctual behavior. Learning to play an instrument, drive or language, becomes easier with practice, until we are able to play, drive or speak without consciously thinking about it. Repetitive environmental programming fix paths in the cerebellum and limbic system resulting in automatic unconscious patterns, emotional responses and expectations forming the greater part of our living experience. It becomes life on autopilot. This can prevent clear communications with the deeper knowing mind resulting in neocortex distortions or fuzziness which manifests in to our outer reality. Many years of research have shown us that what and how we feel resonate to such a degree that even our biology is effected and that in turn, has a direct effect on our outer world experience.

We have what is known as a triune brain. In addition to the fight or flight response that we’ve all heard about, we also have a freeze response, which may serve well if faced with a wild bear, but less productive in most life situations. Often this immobilizing trauma, according to Peter Levine, becomes locked into our cellular structure. It has been noted that through re-addressing these traumas, even symbolically, the structure can start to unblock, resulting in its grip being released, whether or not you are initially aware of it. Careful use of shape and colour provides a symbolic opportunity for neural-plasticity to occur.  

Symbols and colours are recognized by our unconscious mind. These images therefore speak directly from our inner self to our conscious brain. In seeing, we are creating a neurological shift in the brain structure. These images we are attracted to speak back to our subconscious, helping to embed new patterns. It is in part how symbols are used in sigils and magic, religious and spiritual art as well as a therapy tool and reading.

“If you’re attracted to this image” is a separate article as an example of how considered shapes and clours can also be reflective of underlying psychological issues, bringing them to light.

About the Author
Tilly

Tilly

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I'm an artist and paint on ahimsa silk. I have had a Tibetan Buddhist influence since childhood which has been expanded upon with my explorations of quantum mechanics, Jung psychology, neurology, herbology and symbolism through to the Grimoires of enlightened wizards. I follow life's breadcrumbs to transformation. My website & boutique. Other LEVEKUNST articles by the same author.

Featured silk painting of​ symbols used for magic spell casting as a Hypersigil by Ti Campbell-Allen.

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  1. Pingback: LEARNING TO SWIM – TIME TO LET GO AND LET YOURSELF GROW | LEVEKUNST art of life

  2. Fascinating article. I learned a lot. As a photographer/graphic designer trying to weave nature’s palette into vibrant color/shape patterns , and seeing folks’s attraction/reaction to these color design patterns , this all make sense now. By the way, would you mind letting me know how to join the circle of artists from all over the world?

    I love your mission statement and am very grateful to Eric Pema Kunzang for posting this lovely article on his FB page!

    Here is a link to a slide show of some of my sunset pictures I put together to promote my wife Merrill’s last CD :https://youtu.be/MshgLuoAA2c

    Thanks again!

    Yvon Chausseblanche

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