How to Describe Fall Colors And Create Art With Them

Autumn's visual colors, emotional colors, and shades

How do you describe the colors of a season?

More specifically, how do you describe the colors of fall?

You might think that you just need to go outside and look, and you would be right. But looking isn't all of it. You have to know what to look for.

Describing the colors of fall is particularly difficult because there is a conflict between visual colors and emotional colors.

Between bon fires, trees that glow red in the sunlight, and warm orange and yellow tones that are cast across the sky earlier in the day by that beautiful autumn sun, there is no doubt that fall makes us think of warm colors.

This influences fashion choices that leads us to choose scarlet scarfs, dark forest green coats, and rich brown sweaters.

But there is a problem there.

Even though we've only been thinking of warm colors, the clothing items of choice are to fight off cold.

That brings us to the colors that we feel, or emotional colors. The cold northern wind, plants dying, and freezing nights coming sooner each and every day, all cause us to think of frosty blues and pearly whites.

All of these colors can be used to create stunning pieces of art that describe fall on the nose. However, you have to be careful because it is easy to accidentally portray a different season if you don't use the colors right.

We will be analyzing the colors of fall in-depth over warm, cold, visual, and emotional colors so that you know how to use them to their best effectiveness.

  1. Visual Fall Colors List
  2. Emotional Fall Colors List
  3. Shades of Fall
  4. How to make art with fall colors
  5. Conclusion

Visual Fall Colors List

The visual colors of fall are as it sounds. They are the colors that you see.

Between visual and emotional colors, visual is definitely the easier one to categorize because it is much more objective.

Let's get right into it!


Of all the visual colors, the reds are by far the most prominent. They are pioneered each and every year by trees everywhere. The reds are the warmest of all the colors. They are the most emotionally intense and demand a call to action. Each of them are rich and dark. They include:


Yellows are the happiest of all the colors. They spark joy and glee in everyone and tend to just lighten the mood in general. Like the reds, yellow gains popularity from the trees, but the yellows also make an appearance in food like corn. Some colors in the yellow category are:


Orange is a very comfortable color. It gives the happiness of yellow and the warmth of red. It is seen in pumpkins, the sunset, the tips of flames, and of course, the trees. Colors in the autumn orange family include:


Brown is a wonderful family of colors largely because is makes us think of our family. Every person has a skin color that is one shade of brown or another. Brown is everywhere. It's the dirt we walk on so we don't endlessly fall, the wood we use to build homes, tables, and chairs, or the fire wood for burning, and the stone floors, walls, and counters. Brown makes us think of structure, safety, and security. Fall browns include:


Gold is an iconic fall color, reminding us of ripe fields of golden wheat ready for harvest. As a cousin of the colors yellow and brown, gold is more grounded while also stimulating happiness. Gold is a mix between yellow and brown and therefore, it gets its own category. The most common types of golds in the fall season tend to be mellow to dark golds such as:


Purple is a relaxing and soothing color that stimulates thought and generates new ideas. This color pioneers creative thinking and lets the mind wander in a more relaxed and care free way. Purple is typically a naturally deep and rich color. In fall time, that grows exponentially. Only the richest purples are seen during the autumn season, but they can sometimes be difficult to find. Different types of fall purples are:


Between the harvesting of an outrageous amount of food and the evergreens that stay their true color, there is plenty of greens to go around. Green is a color that lands right between logical thinking and emotional feelings which makes it a very balanced color. Among the greens are:

Dusty Pink

Dusty pink is a rather specific color. It's not the bright vibrant pink that people see on little girl's dresses, or the hot pink that find's itself on glitter stickers. Rather, it's a soft blush on the twilight sky of a chilly October's night. Or it's even caught by a keen eye on a leaf attached to a humble tree. It's not bright and bold like some of the yellows and oranges, and it's not as excited as red. Instead, it is much more compassionate, caring, and hopeful. If we want to broaden this color to soft pinks, it would include:

Emotional Fall Colors List

Emotional colors are interesting because there is no clear-cut right answer. They actually conflict quite a bit with each other. There is the difference between warm and cold, happy and scared. These colors are good representations of these contrary feelings.

Pale Blues

In the fall, the sky can sometimes seem more pale. This can be more of a visual color if focused on this aspect, but there's another faucet to look at. The temperature drops and the weather becomes much more harsh. This feeling of cold and chilly causes people to think of the fading blues of ice and grey skies. Pales blues can be:


Black, similar to blue, can be a visual color because night comes sooner and there are crows, but it also has a much larger impact as an emotional color. Black isn't really a color. In fact, it is the absence of light which, in turn, makes it the absence of any color. This also means that it is void of happiness. That being said, it should technically be in the shades category, but it finds its way here due to its emotional relevance. In autumn, there is Halloween, cooling temperatures, and dying plants. Black is brought by fear. Specifically, fear of death. Black is the perfect color to put people on edge.

Dark Browns

Dark browns, while in the visual category, also hold a place here in the emotional colors. Brown can support black in creating dread and darkening the whole mood which extends the most unsavory feeling of coldness and death brought by black. However, when used correctly, brown can be a direct opposite to black by inspiring comfort and security. With brown, its effect directly correlates with its application.


Oranges get a relisting because it can heavily support the comfort of brown. Between bon fires and beautiful sunsets, orange only makes people feel warm and relaxed inside. It also brings a sense of joy and love because it can feel like a warm hug. Some of those oranges are:


Red can do so many things. It can create negative emotions like fear or anger as it relates to blood. It can inspire love and passion as red heightens attraction. It can provide a more intense version of orange's comfort expressing warmth and dramatic sunsets. It is among the most versatile of colors. Reds include:

Fall Shades List

When used in the context of a color, referring to its shade is a way of describing how light or dark that color is. (E.g. dark red or light blue.) However, if it is not referring to a color, then the de facto is that it is referring to whites, blacks, and grays.

The main autumn shades are dark grays and blacks.

Whites and light grays are typically found has highlights. Whereas blacks and dark grays usually provide depth, definition, and shading.


White is often the reflection of light off of a surface. It's not a common shade in the way of fall. If fall, white is more of a tool rather than a show piece. It can bring importance to something or bring objects to the foreground.


Black is a far more common shade than white. It adds a lot of depth and perspective. It provides shading and is a wonderful tool when trying to convey seriousness, fear, or death. Black is used as a means of control. It controls the feeling, the shape, and importance of an object.


This is where things get really interesting. Grays are where things really start to get character. A gray is a mixture of white and black. This means that there are an infinite number of different grays that can be created, but the human eye can only see about 30 of them. Grays are most interesting when you consider that they can represent any color. Because of our understanding of the world we live in, our brains tend to associate different colors with different objects, shapes, and shades of gray. This is especially useful for black and white photos because our brain ends up doing all of the work for us so that we can imagine a color there. Some good grays to use are:

How to make Art with Fall Colors

Now let's make some art with the colors we just learned. There are a few different applications we are going to explore.

Colorful and Relaxing Art

In order to create a relaxing picture using fall colors, start by determining what colors are comfortable. Browns and oranges are a great way to begin.

Then add in some colors that spark joy and happiness. Yellow is perfect for that

Finally, use some greens to help balance everything out.


This art piece is oil painting is a masterpiece created by Travis Humphreys.

It is Fall With Frosting.

Humphreys uses all of the before mentioned colors as well as some white to help give a brisk chill.

All in all, it is a wonderfully relaxing art piece that can be looked at for hours.

Abstract Fall Art

Abstract is simple enough to explain in concept, but a bit more challenging to put into practice.

But let's give it a go.

First, because this is abstract art, you must decide what feeling you want to create. This will dictate your color choice.

Here are a few ideas


This image by Pamela Prescott is a mixture of yellow and green abstract piece called First Attempt at Closure

It uses the yellow as a background happiness and the green as a foreground stability.

The vertical lines of green can resemble trees which are pictures of protection and shade.

This art piece, also by Pamela, is Proximity.

It has a delicate balance of nature and man-made structure between the organic and geometrical shapes.

It uses yellow and orange or stimulate warmth and joy.

There is brown to offer stability, comfort, and reassurance.

Fall Art with Sades Only

When working with shades, there is a lot of creative freedom. However, be careful to not go too dark or too light based on what you are trying to represent. Something intended to be serene and tranquil can come off as creepy and disturbing is shades are misused.

First, let's start by deciding what you want to draw.

Second, decide the emotion that it is intended to convey.

Third, make sure to use a balance of lights and darks in your picture. If everything is a similar shade, nothing will pop and it will all seem very flat.

Fourth, go through and give darker blacks when shading is needed and provide whiter highlights when a glare or pop is necessary.


Vase and Antlers is a mixed medium between ink and charcoal by Jeffery Prescott.

It is a still-life which is when the artist looks at an object and draws what he sees as best he can.

It has a rural feel and is imagined to be inside a cabin.

The chair is an implied brown which brings comfort and stability while the vase is an implied light color such as white or blue.

The chair is much darker than the vase so that the majority of attention is directed towards the vase.

Autumn Gourd is an ink drawing by Jeffery Prescott.

The ink uses sharp lines to clearly define what the subject is while using splotches and smudges to give character, shading, and depth.

Because it is food, there is immediate comfort and relaxation.

The gourd is the most prominent subject in the picture both in its size and shade.

There is a little bit of excitement in the angle of the perspective.

This helps spike intrest.

This is Vase Stack.

It is a charcoal drawing by Jeffery Prescott.

The only subject is the stack of vases with a scattered shadow behind it.

The vases are in isolation which can create a sense of insecurity.

It seems a bit unbalanced, yet it doesn't fall.

There is the curious mystery of what is in the vase.

That, combined with the roughness of it, causes the mind to wander.

Pumpkins is a charcoal drawing by Jeffery Prescott.

The pumpkins imply a color of orange which gives a feeling of warmth and comfort.

The dramatic angle of light suggests a fire which adds to the warmth and comfort that the pumpkins provide.

Fear in Fall

Fear is a pretty easy emotion to evoke in autumn. Using the blackness that grows in the night as each day passes, the extreme angle of light as the sun sets sooner, and the dropping temperature that continues to get colder as time goes on, there are many different avenues an artist can take when trying to scare their audience.


This charcoal drawing Not Alone by Pamela Prescott does a wonderful job of conjuring fear of the unknown.

There is a large black mass in the room, a shadowy figure in front of the window, and a reflection of him off the glass toped table.

There's the mystery of who he is, what is he doing there, and does he have something under the table that could harm you?

Stories by Jeffery Prescott is a charcoal drawing of a man's face with an extreme light facing up from below his face.

It's a simple concept, but is very intimating.

The shadow on his forehead caused by his glasses is a particular flair that adds exactly what it needs to give you the chills.


This is the list of colors that best describe fall in both a visual context and an emotional context. Each color holds a certain power and influence over both the picture and the person. Fall tends to consist of warm visual colors and a conflicting mix of warm and cold emotional colors. Autumn can persuade many different reactions and emotions. It can make a person feel warm or cold, or it can inspire love, affection, comfort, relaxation, and pleasure. It can spark fear in several very string ways whether that be fear of death, the unknown, the cold, or just the dark. This is how to describe fall colors.

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