Colors play an important part in not only the success of a Dia de Los Muertos portrait, but also in the traditional symbolism of the celebration. And while I am taking many liberties in this series, I do try to sprinkle in some traditional aspects where I can, and as I learn more about them.

For instance, roses are represented in a lot of modern Day of the Dead art like tattoos and face-painting (I like them too!) but marigolds are the traditional flower and orange is such a great color to work with, I’ve been using it a lot.

An article on is a really good primer for learning about Dia de Los Muertos, and describes the important colors and symbolism:

  • Black for the Prehispanic religions and land of the dead
  • Purple from the Catholic calendar to signify pain, suffering, grief, mourning
  • Pink for celebration
  • White for purity and hope
  • Yellow and Orange for the marigold, the sun, light
  • Red representing for Christians, the blood of Jesus; and for the indigenous, the life blood of humans and animals


You really do learn something new every day.

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