In your artwork you use color. But color should never be considered incidental. Color carries personal, cultural and instinctual meaning. Color also comes in and goes out of style on an almost yearly basis. As a fine artist you consider color on an emotional level - hues and tones, complimentary, contrasting, clashing, bright or muted - all generating an emotional response. As an illustrator, you consider your target audience - primaries, pastels, gem colors, saturated hues, soft or high-contrast - what appeals most to who will buy the product. Illustrators will often keep up with color trends, especially when they design high-impact sales products like packaging and magazine covers. But for any kind of artist, understanding color and its psychology and trends can improve your work and actually increase your creativity.
The meaning of color can be defined fairly well - for most of western culture... for instance, while white is associated with pureness in western culture, it symbolizes death in most Asian cultures where wedding dresses are often red, a lucky color. But instinctual responses to color can be fairly universal - such as, dye any food or drink a true blue (not deep indigo like blueberries) and it immediately becomes unappetizing. Blue is absent from fast food places - the most appetizing colors, red and yellow, are dominant.
So here's your project: Explore the links below (I highly recommend using COLOURlovers). Observe colors of products, magazine racks, clothing. Think about the personalities of people and the colors they choose for their environments and clothing. Then, do some art. Start with a very small palette - 2 or 3 colors - that you feel effect each other and the subject matter in some way. Slowly expand your palette for other art. Notice how you are thinking about color. You'll find a deeper love of color that will expand your world in wonderful ways.
•COLOURlovers - all things color.
•COLOURlovers blog of trends
•In The Mod - download color palettes derived from artists' paintings.
•Color symbolism and psychology (Wikipedia)
•Color Marketing Group - color trend researchers.
•Complete Color Harmony Workbook (Amazon)
•Color Index (Amazon)
image from COLOURlovers