What do you know about color?
For some of us, it stands out as a key element to life.
We remember the color of a loved one’s clothing!
Perhaps the color of food!
I remember being enchanted by the first full length film I saw, “Sleeping Beauty.” The film ends with a magical color contest; the three fairy God mothers are changing the color of Princess Aurora’s gown as she dances with Prince Charming. I was three!
What draws you to certain colors in a painting?
Above you see a portion of my painting in full color, black and white and the negative image.
Plein air painters know that colors in a landscape can change in a moment! Clouds pass overhead, altering shadows. The sun slowly traverses the sky changing the mood of the landscape throughout the day. This week, I experienced a fairly consistent sky in Pioneertown as I painted. Then, the unusual early morning snowflakes and stormy clouds rewarded me as I (determined) painted in the Morongo Valley Preserve. Indoor painters know that good light (natural or artificial) is crucial to painting accurate color.
What is your earliest memory of color? Perhaps you received a box box of Crayolas or a set of Prang watercolors—and you experienced the thrill of mixing color! Or you blending colored chalk. I lived on a cul-de-sac and we neighborhood kids drew elaborate cities to trace with our bikes.
Light must be present for us to see color, and Sir Isaac Newton’s original color circle illustrated spectral hues, blending colors as light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (often remembered as Roy G Biv: red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet). The typical artists' color wheel includes the primary colors of blue, red, and yellow and the secondary colors of green, orange, and violet or purple.
Sewing, knitting, fiber arts and crafts projects introduce delicious color!
Today, colored paints are readily available, and we are accustomed to paint in tubes. However, when paint tubes were originally invented in 1841 (by American portrait painter, John Goffe Rand, of Bedford, New Hampshire), they were a novel improvement over the traditional pig’s bladder tied with string! Painting was revolutionized as artists moved outdoors, and the Impressionist movement was born.
Of course, as in any field, a specific and almost mysterious vocabulary is used. Vermillion, cadmium, alizarin, ultramarine are words of poetry to the painter. The names generally are inspired by the color’s source.
Here’s handy description of the origin of many colors:
Do you want more color in your life? Mixing colors can create shades, tones, tints from the original hues! If these become confusing, the CA State Board of Education’s Visual Arts Content Standards provide a useful glossary of art terms: https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/vaglossary.asp
hue. Refers to the name of a color (e.g., red, blue, yellow, orange).
intensity. Also called chroma or saturation. It refers to the brightness of a color (a color is full in intensity only when pure and unmixed). Color intensity can be changed by adding black, white, gray, or an opposite color on the color wheel.
tint. Color lightened with white added to it.
tone. Color shaded or darkened with gray (black plus white).
value. Lightness or darkness of a hue or neutral color. A value scale shows the range of values from black to white.
If you hunger for more explanation, the extensive Munsell Color System (first introduced in 1898) will catch your attention! https://www.britannica.com/science/Munsell-color-system
Graphic artists are familiar with the name Pantone. During the 1950s, the New York based Pantone commercial printing company began to use chemistry to systematize and simplify the company's stock of pigments and eventually developed the Pantone Color Matching System. Since 2000, the Pantone Color Institute declares a color "Color of the Year" which sets trends in color for the fashion and design world.
This clever site matches people’s skin tones to Pantone colors!
Here’s a color thesaurus which matches color to substances and names such as coffee: https://graf1x.com/list-of-colors-with-color-names/
Knowledge of color enlivens many forms of art. Once, I challenged my class to come up with a list of names for red; we discovered 47 different names and colors for red!
Do you want too mix believable colors? Watch my future blogposts!
Until then, here’s a fun tool to evaluate any photograph you upload in terms of color: http://snapyourcolors.com/
Do not select "Snap It for Chrome"—just scroll down to upload an image, and you will get a color match such as these for my paintings, "Azure Agave" and "Reflection." Accurate? Maybe--but fun!
Whose world does not need a little more color?
1/23/2018 10:14:32 am
Thank you for sharing, I have done a little with acrylics and I would like to again at some point in time.
1/24/2018 07:08:43 pm
Thanks for the comment, Herman. You definitely should look into some classes. The classes at the 29 Palms Gallery are very good and I am teaching one for the Desert institute.http://www.joshuatree.org/desert-institute/field-classes/
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This January 2023 marks 5 years of blogging about creativity, well-being and encouragement. Thank you to the many who have visited my website! I welcome comments and questions.
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