The gold confusion

The gold confusion

Gold is one of those colors that has me a little confused. Just to clarify right away: I love working with gold in my art! Using it in my works does feel somewhat different than wearing it or decorating with it, even though the latter is far easier than the first.

I’ve been wondering where my fascination for this lustrous color is coming from, or what it is that makes me choose it over any other beautiful shade of whatever color.  So obviously, as one does these days, I turned to Google because Google knows ‘everything’.

Quickly I came across wonderful idioms with the word gold in it.

Like ‘As good as gold’, ‘having a heart of gold’, ‘worth it’s weight in gold, ‘black gold’ or ‘silence is golden’. What I thought was much more interesting were the explanations given around the meaning or symbolism of the color gold. I did find my answer there!

I came across this website: that has tons of information on colors, their meanings, symbolism and more. So after reading this, I recommend you check it out!

 The Color Gold Symbolizes Wealth and Success.”

Now that’s a good thing already. Who doesn’t like more wealth and success?! However nice this is, this cannot be what makes me choose the golden paint or even the 23-karat gold leaf.


Mini Feathers and Gold sunset series

Beautiful Yet Cocky

Preferred for its unique beauty and subtle elegance, the color gold embodies wealth and confidence. While there’s no denying gold’s charm, the praise it’s received has made it rather arrogant. In other words, gold is anything but modest. Fortunately, it boasts myriad qualities that outweigh its vanity. Passionate, inviting, friendly, and positive are among a few.

Phew, good to read there’s more positive then negative. I would feel somewhat embarrassed if it would mean I was arrogant, smug, or ostentatious. Working with gold always leaves me with a very positive feeling for sure!


Religious Implications

Used heavily in religious settings, the color gold is synonymous with divinity and power. Christians maintain that the color gold represents icons, which is why this color is featured in numerous mosaics. When this majestic hue is present, it reminds Christians of the strength and omnipresence of God. In Hinduism, the color gold relates to learning, meditation, and self-guided improvement. Hindu idols are often depicted with gold halos. This bespeaks their boundless wisdom and virtue.

'Saint Dodo' oilpainting on gold leaf by Cindy Sangen

Even though religion is a hot topic to discuss, it’s amazing that so many religions view gold as a high valued color. Might also have something to do with its value throughout the ages, I guess. I didn’t realize that a gold halo is a part of Hinduism. I’ve made a painting ‘Saint Dodo’ with a gold halo but referencing more to the Christian icons. I guess my painting ‘Hi Buddy’ with the golden circle and mandala has a more Hindu feel to it.



 Cultural Connotations

Canadians and Americans hold the color gold in high regard. This intoxicating color portrays affluence and ability. However, it can also be indicative of decadence and overindulgence. In South America, the color gold is most prominently seen in the church. With that said, it holds very little negative meaning. Throughout Jamaica and Cuba, gold is associated with seafaring people. More specifically, pirates. Moreover, Europeans believe that gold illustrates solidarity and spiritual enlightenment.

Argh, argh, shiver me timbers… As a world citizen I can see all these connotations. It’s just intriguing to see how history plays such an important role as to how we perceive a color now a days.


"Gold rewards triumph with its prosperous essence and powerful spirit."


Symbolic of Success

Color psychology teaches us that the color gold tells a success story. When achievements have been made, gold is the first to express approval. Simply put, the color gold rewards triumph with its prosperous essence and powerful spirit. Royal figures and people in power often wear the color gold, making it a symbol of prestige and influence. If you encounter someone wearing gold, they’re either renowned or masquerading as someone who is.

Now I’m thinking, do I know someone who wears gold? Not something with a golden thread woven into it, but a fully golden sweater, dress, or jumpsuit. I have to say that I don’t really. Personally I would feel that a golden outfit, especially shiny, would be a tad bit too much.

"Ask the color gold for some guidance"


Now here I found the answer that resonated the most with me:

Perky and Positive

Most people fail to realize that gold is inherently optimistic. As an uplifting and encouraging hue, the color gold wants the best for people. Gold is a cheerleader. It celebrates successes and motivates people to reach their potential. If you’re struggling to find happiness or peace of mind, ask the color gold for some guidance. With its cheery disposition, positivity is promised.

This feels like the perfect reason and intention to use gold. It’s very true for me that when I have a day that I don’t feel very cheerful and I work with some gold for a while, I do feel better and more positive. It always makes me feel, especially with gold leaf, like the sun is shining on me. Maybe an idea for a personal ‘therapy’ session during the dark winter days.

'Little Robin' oil painting on gold leaf by Cindy Sangen


Bold Meets Braggadocious

The color gold has an alarmingly inflated ego. While confidence is admirable, smugness is unbecoming. Unfortunately, the color gold has a hard time reining in its pride. To some, the color gold is pretentious. When worn in excess, the color gold can appear ostentatious and flashy. The color gold means well, but humility certainly isn’t its strong suit.

And this explains my confusion with this color, but I still feel (like this article about the color says), that the positive outweighs the negative.

Bottom line: I feel reassured, even supported, and encouraged to continue using gold paint and gold leaf in my art. I even would say that we all could use some more gold in our homes and lives. Who doesn’t want to be optimistic, uplifted, enlightened, inspired, and confident to reach our ‘golden’ potential!

"Include the positives of gold into our lives"

And even though wearing a golden jumpsuit is not something a lot of us strive for, some more gold in our surroundings, like decorations or art, would be a great way to include the positives of gold into our lives.

xx Cindy

P.S. Don't forget to check out Color Meanings!

Back to blog