Autumn fall colour palettes can be found all around us, with inspiration that can be incorporated from the natural world as well as from everyday objects and designs. The most common autumnal tones are warm, despite the briskness of the season. The colours tend towards oranges, reds, yellows, and even a few saturated browns and shades of purples, greens, bronzes and coppers. Altogether, this creates a beautiful warm and glowing palette.
With the right colour mixing and combination, you can even land the perfect balance of tones to create a cosy autumn atmosphere to your designs, whether they be for creating artworks or choosing interior decorations!
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Find Autumn Colours in… Nature, of course!
One place to look for autumnal inspiration is, well, going outdoors during autumn! All around the world, fall looks different depending on the local flora, the type of weather to be expected in autumn, and the ways that the environment adapts to that weather. Deciduous trees go dormant over the winter, and the drying up of chlorophyll in the leaves of said trees, often maple or birch, causes them to go yellow, orange, and red, shortly before trying and falling off for the long winter.
However, in areas with more pine trees, for example, autumn might look instead like evergreens and drying pine needles preparing for the winter in their own way. While the palette of reddening leaves is an obvious choice, a less common, but equally vivacious choice is to look at the berries which ripen during autumn, like blackberries, to find tones of blue, purple, and black. With this in mind, you can start to use natural colours of a cooler variety to balance out all those warm shades if you wish.
Autumn Holidays & Festivals
Another place to look for inspiration when it comes to colour selection is holidays from around the world. Many holidays around the fall, from Halloween to Samhain to Hannukah, incorporate glowing lights into their festivities, usually attributed to the fact that, as days grow shorter and nights grow longer around the autumn solstice, the appreciation of light grows accordingly. Because of this, with your more obvious colour choices, you can also try to incorporate the colours of say, a candle wick burning, or the bright glow of fairy lights. Autumn is known mostly for its darkness, but the bright lights which cut through that darkness are often just as iconic, if not more so.
Autumnal Inspired Art
You can also look at artworks with particular colour palettes and similar themes to what you’re interested in, and taking inspiration from the creative choices made by those artists. Here are some quick paintings I have done to test our favourite autumn colour palette…
Nevertheless, you don’t have to stick to the earthy colours that we have shown here, feel free to take inspiration from other artists too.
Landscape painters, for example, both realistic and figurative in their style, can be a great place to start. For a less realistic option, take a look at Claude Monet’s Impressionist Autumn Effect at Argenteuil, 1873. This painting matches and breaks away from the formula expected by autumn colour palettes, containing both the oranges and yellows of autumn leaves, as well as deep greens of trees yet to turn colours with the season, and the vibrant teal blue of the water reflecting a bright sky.
If you’re looking to take inspiration from a more true-to-life landscape, however, you can look to J. M. W. Turner’s Autumn Morning near Fonthill, which depicts a desaturated fall morning in all of the pastoral Romanticism that Turner is known for, with bare, white-barked trees and dry earth, a dusty sky that seems bright and crisp in the early morning. These two artists, while a good starting point, are not the entire breadth and span of landscape painters, and you should look into some of your own favourite art styles and movements, and see what kind of bold and interesting colour palettes you can create, inspired by their own creations and visions of the living world.
Speaking of taking inspiration from the creations of others, and doing research, one place you can go to for autumnal inspiration is online websites for image aggregation, like Pinterest. By looking for collections, you can either look through Pinterest boards with autumnal inspiration created by others, or create your own inspiration board by looking at the many images uploaded to Pinterest and available for you to use.
By browsing these websites, you can find inspiration in the mundane as well as the natural – find pictures of coffee cups and scarves, outfits and Halloween decorations, freshly baked pies or sweater patterns. All of these contain within them different and unique colour patterns, which can be incorporated to make new and innovative colour palettes utterly unique to your Pinterest board and the details contained within it. Using these boards, you can even sample colours directly and add them to your application of choice, creating your own hand-selected swatches to use however you’d like!
What I hoped to demonstrate with this list is that inspiration can strike anywhere, and anytime, and can come from the most unlikely places. Whether you’re interested in creating artwork of your very own, are in the process of adding colours to designs, or are just trying to have your interior decorations match the seasons, you can find and create inspirations for just the perfect colours by keeping your eyes open and being open to influences from anywhere that you can. You can have your phone on you, snapping pictures as you walk to work to reuse when creating a palette, or you can buy readymade autumnal colour collections to paint with.
You can do research into artists who have made their careers off of depicting landscapes in various seasons, or look into what other enthusiasts have made in the time they have, either one or any combination of the above could be what strikes your fancy in a given moment. Keep your mind open and your eyes sharp to the world around you, and using a combination of both the mundane and the extraordinary, you should be able to create colour palettes for any season, any time of the year!