Color Inspiration in Art: Famous Paintings Provide Perfect Palette Ideas

From Monet to Van Gogh, brilliant artists throughout history have delighted and inspired us with their paintings filled with emotion-evoking beauty and near endless strokes and swirls of vibrant, life-giving color. Here are just a few of our favorite paintings by famed artists across the world and throughout history, as well as the colourlover palettes “birthed” by each.


Ascribed by most with the name, “The Scream,” this aptly-titled painting by Expressionist artist Edvard Munch originally was given the moniker “The Scream of Nature.” Featuring a figure in apparent agony, against a passionately (some could even say violently) colored sky of bold oranges, golds and the like, critic Arthur Ludlow took so much stock in the striking and timely importance of this piece that he even went so far as to describe it as “an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa of our time.”




Who isn’t familiar with this whimsical rendition of a dreamy, star-filled sky at night? One of our absolute favorites, “The Starry Night” was painted by Dutch post-impressionist Vincent van Gogh in June 1889. Surprisingly, few realize where this beautiful and lovely painting was actually created: it depicts the view from the east-facing window of Van Gogh’s asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, just before sunrise–the idyllic village, however, was an addition from the edges of the inpatient’s own imagination.

2-Van Gogh Starry Night



Also created in 1989–during Van Gogh’s time within an asylum in Saint-Rémy, France (due to several episodes of self-mutilation and hospitalization)–is “Irises,” a painting which the artist began the very first week of his arrival, and toiled tirelessly over from within the outdoor confines of the asylum’s garden.

3-Van Gogh 20



Created by renowned painter Lichtenstein, “Woman with Flowered Hat” was made during a time when the artist was on a personal attack of sorts regarding the mentality of “High Art.” Lichtenstein chose to combat such snobbery with subject matter of “low art” via comic strip imagery, and specifically, copycatting masterworks of some of the most famed artists, including Cezanne, Picasso, and more. This particular piece is based on Picasso’s own works with the muse of Dora Maar, Picasso’s once lover. Like Picasso’s original work, so too is Lichtenstein’s rendition famed for its wild colors and grotesque distortion of features.

flowered hat



Golden is the first thing that comes to mind when receiving one’s first glimpse of Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting “The Kiss.” Such a sentiment makes perfect natural sense when  faced with the fact that the Austrian artist created this visionary piece at the height of what was literally described as his “Golden Period.” A mixture of oil paint, layers of deftly applied gold leaf layers, and the emotion infused with the subject matter of two lovers in a passionate embrace serves to send all viewers into their own world of idyllic contemplation, including us. We will be the first to admit, this masterpiece is nothing short of golden.

5-Gustav Klimt -- The Kiss



Artist Salvador Dali is perhaps our very favorite artist, ever. This particular piece, “The Persistence of Memory” –or in Catalan: La persistència de la memòria–was created in 1931 and remains as one of Dali’s most famous masterpieces.

6-Salvadore Dali, The Persistence of Memory



Considered to be the founder of French Impressionist painting, Oscar-Claude Monet’s desire to capture the beauty of the French countryside–specifically the shifting light within the days and nights, as well as the passing of seasons–led the artist to begin practicing this methodology of painting the exact same scene numerous times. A resident on Giverny, Monet invested much time in landscaping his property to include his famed lily ponds and gardens, of which are featured below amid swirls of crimson, muted mint and nearly chartreuse sunlight shades.

7-Monet's Abstract Pond



Known for becoming infatuated with many women, who then became muses for his works, Pablo Picasso created “The Red Armchair” surrounding his smitten subject of Marie-Therese Walter. Nearly 30 years younger than the famed painter, Walter’s blonde hair, broad features, and curvy figure entranced Picasso, who was quite vocal about her charms. According to the opinions of many, the motif featured within this painting–showcasing a distorted visage featuring both frontal and profile views–is believed to be symbolic of (or at least acknowledging) the double life the two were carrying at the time. Whatever the reason for way he went about displaying the beauty, we are fascinated, and big fans, especially of that bold, bright color kaleidoscope!

8-The Red Armchair by Pablo Picasso



It is often said that the utilization and variations of color was how Henri Matisse conceived and structured his art. Perhaps giving us his own explanation of his approach, the painter penned this description of his masterpiece, “The Window,” in a letter: “Through the window of the drawing room one sees the green of the garden and a black tree trunk, a basket of forget-me-nots on the table, a garden chair and a rug.”

9-Henri Matisse - The Window



Artist Childe Hassam painted “Poppies, Isles of Shoals” based on the beautiful (and largest) island in the Atlantic archipelago four just off New Hampshire and Maine (also known as Appledore). Perhaps the most noteworthy American Impressionist of his time, Appledore would become Hassam’s haven, where the artist would often go for retreat and creative inspiration.

10-Poppies Isles of Shoals Hassam


Author: Andy Beth Miller