Designing with Feng Shui (Wind & Water)

Feel like experimenting—finding a different way to create and evaluate your art work? Harmony/balance is one of the principles of designing. It is also the goal of Feng Shui. When we were building our new home in SC, I decided to use some Feng Shui principles as we designed and decorated and I applied these principles to the artwork that went into some of the rooms. That’s when I found out how much fun it was to plan a design and evaluate finished paintings using these ancient principles.

Originating in China over 3000 years ago, Feng Shui focuses on creating balance with principles that can be applied to your home, office, garden, clothes, health, painting and so much more. The study of Feng Shui can be a lengthy process so we will just “brush” the tip of the surface.

There are five “elements” of Feng Shui each represented by colors and shapes (positive and negative) that help establish harmony and energy. Colors and shapes are two of the elements in designing a piece of art work as are texture, rhythm, proportion and others. These elements interact in a positive or negative manner and when correctly applied to a piece of art work can create positive energy and balance. What if you don’t want harmony—you are trying to convey discord or disruption in your work. Well, just use the principles in an opposite way. Here is a basic chart. *Other colors can be used than are listed. Follow the clear, muted, bright description.


 Element Colors Shapes Energy
Fire bright-orange pyramid transformation
red, yellow diamond expansion
purple sunburst
Earth muted-earth horizontal grounding
tones, green square support
lite yellow rectangle
Metal white circle, arc mental power
gray, silver energy of the mind
Water black flowing release
deep blue wavy renewal
shape of pond
Wood clear green pillar growth
brown vertical creativity


For fun let’s evaluate this painting which was not intentionally designed using Feng Shui principles.

The close-up is true to color—the second picture with the frame is important to our evaluation although not crisp color.

The painting entitled, “Alex-Reflecting Behind Stall Bars” is a mixed media – acrylic/Brusho watercolor crystals. It appears to be a predominately muted painting, rectangular in shape which leans to the EARTH element with soft greens, yellow greens, lite yellow, and turquoise. The reflection in the eye is the pasture outside, with more earth tones—actually earth itself.

The focal point can’t be missed with the almost black, luminous eye and its reflection. This brings in some WATER element as does the black trim on the frame.

The eye is a circular shape (as is some trim on the frame) with touches of gray added in the painting and around the eye plus gray tones on the frame - so we have our METAL element.  The arc of the bars in the reflection in the eye adds further metal.

Now searching for the WOOD element we can find that in the vertical stripes of the frame and some of the clear bluish purple toward the bottom right.  The surface used is wood as is the frame. Now looking hard for any FIRE element in such a soft painting—it’s a stretch but the eye lashes form a sunburst, the tear duct area forms a pyramid shape---not much fire.

Balance does not necessarily mean the same proportion of each element, but rather a star joined by a supporting cast to create the harmony. Otherwise, just one element would be boring.                                                                            

As I have now looked at this painting for the first time with a “Feng Shui eye”, I believe it works.  It appears to be a predominately EARTH element with strong METAL influence further balanced by WATER and WOOD and a “wee touch” of FIRE.

The energy then is grounding and supportive with energy of the mind--perfect for a horse and especially this horse.  The other elements add touches of growth – not of the horse but the rider-- release and renewal.  It is the energy I would want the painting to express.

Now you see how this works so try it on one of your artworks, 2-D or 3-D.  The next fun step would be to actually create a design using the Feng Shui elements.  After you decide what you are creating, what you want to relate (the story you want to tell), the energy connection you want with the viewer, you can capture this with Feng Shui.  If you have a commission you might want to do a bit more research.  Knowing where the picture will go in you client’s home or office may make a difference in your choices or subject matter.  

This Feng Shui Koi painting is a good example.  Koi are a popular topic. This one has some fire!  The other with bamboo is almost a complete opposite.  Both pictures are from the Internet—just google Feng Shui Art!

Have fun and experiment! Do keep in touch with us and leave your comments!! Are there other topics you would like to explore? Keep up with Kingart on social media and sign up for emails.


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Equinox Brushes are perfect for artists that work with inks, gouaches, silk painting, acrylics, watercolors, and dyes.  This wonderful set includes a 1” oval wash, ¾” flat wash, #2 round, #10 round, and a script liner.


Google Feng Shui art, check YouTube for –How to paint Feng Shui Art, go to for Angelika Fleck, Feng Shui painter.

Enjoy reading: “quick feng shui cures” by Sarah Shurety and “feng shui chi” by Sharon Stasney

Also on the reading list: “The Zen of Creative Painting” and “The Tao of Watercolor” both authored by Jeanne Carbonetti. Both are filled with inspiring and practical information as well as exercises to practice.

Blog editor: Mary McCullah

Mary works from her own photo references painting primarily in acrylic and watercolor. She has been painting for over 40 years dedicating over 25 years to teaching and designing educational material. Having lived across the country, Mary and her husband now reside in North Augusta, SC where she divides her art time with her horse time! Want to know more about Mary:

Contact Mary at

Reviews (1 comment)

  • Brittany On

    Feng Shui Art colors explanation is an excellent start, it would be nice to provide more details where to hang art piece. Eg (House divides into N-E-S-W quadrant > sereperates into bedroom-bath-kitchen > Wind-Water-Fire-Wood signs = proper Feng Shui Combination)

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