Use Color to Create a Peaceful Home

Digital artist David MacLean uses his knowledge of color and light to create inviting, tranquil scenes—both on a digital canvas and in his home.

Home of Angels
“Home of Angels” by David MacLean.

David MacLean’s art sometimes begins with him slamming on the brakes and making a U-turn. “I glimpse a scene that gives me a feeling of desire,” he says, “a desire to create.” For 30 years, he painted such scenes with watercolors, oils and acrylics, but he never felt that he sufficiently captured a scene’s tranquility and joy until he discovered a new way of making art that has freed him to create any scene he can imagine. “It’s allowed me to create more gratifying art than ever before,” he says.

Using Photoshop, David selects specific parts of the photos he takes to make multi-layered images—much like painting multiple layers on a canvas. With unlimited brush types and color choices, he can create the images that have been stuck in his mind for years, “just waiting to come out,” or more fully capture the essence of a natural scene.

Opening to Truth by David MacLean
“Opening to Truth” by David MacLean.

Although he now uses modern technology to create his art, David still follows the same artistic principles as he has for the last three decades. Drawing on his long experience as a traditional painter, he says, “It takes three elements to create a piece of art: light, color and shadow—and the more color, the better.” Each layer of vibrant color lends his images of landscapes, seascapes and gardens a heightened sense of tranquility.

A Light that Shines in Peace by David MacLean.
“A Light that Shines in Peace” by David MacLean.

Like his art, the home David shares with his wife Maryse is a picture of peace. When decorating their home, they followed David’s color principles to create a serene home:

David’s favorite color palette is purple, yellow and red—a split-complementary color scheme that pairs a base color (purple) with its opposite color (yellow). Adding a third color that neighbors the first (red) decreases the tension between the contrasting colors. This simple color scheme works well both in artwork and in homes.

Choose colors that suit your room’s purpose. David and Maryse ask themselves, “What do I want to achieve by changing this room’s color? Do I want to create a room for relaxation, for playing games or for working?”

Display artwork as a room’s centerpiece—even if its style does not obviously match the room’s furnishings, you can create a color palette inspired by its dominant colors. “If you fall in love with a piece of art, you can always find a special place for it in your home,” David says.

For more information about David MacLean, visit

By Elaine K. Phillips

Artwork by David MacLean

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