Monday, March 10, 2014

Elements of Art: Color

Today is the last in my Elements of Art series and it's all about color! I'm not sure what the next set of lessons will be about, but I'm very happy with how this series turned out.  I'd like to share some more of my in-process dolls soon.  Sometimes I have more going on than I can share immediately!

Anyway, let's look at color!

Color is a simple concept that is also incredibly complex!  There's the science of color, how we perceive color, how some people don't perceive color (ie: color blindness), what we name colors, how we use colors, etc.  There are different types of colors.  For example, the primary colors in light are yellow-cyan-magenta and the primary colors in pigments are red-blue-yellow.  For a really great summary of primary colors, see Wikipedia.

One thing I've always found interesting is the history of color.  Think of how easy it is to walk into an art store and have an amazing array of colors to choose from.  This wasn't always the case! The paint tube was only invented in 1841 and many of our modern pigments date to the Industrial Revolution.  For a wonderful overview of the history of pigment, see Winsor & Newton's history of pigment.

If you want a really in-depth (and super fun!), interactive history of pigments, check out Pigments through the Ages.  I may be spending most of my afternoon playing with this....!

For our purposes, I want to look at a color wheel and define some of the ways that colors interact with each other.

Primary colors: the three basic colors used to create all other colors.  We're going to stick with pigment primaries: red, blue, and yellow.

Secondary colors: the colors created by mixing the primary colors.  Orange, green, and purple are the secondary colors.

Tertiary colors: colors in-between a primary and a secondary color.  The easiest way for me to remember these is to think of them as the hyphenated colors.  Blue-green, red-violet, yellow-orange are the tertiary colors.

Once you have these colors mapped out, it's time to look at how they work together.  These interactions are often called color harmonies and there's another great article on Wikipedia about it.

Analogous color: colors that are next to each other.  This is a quick & easy way to create a monochrome type of palette.

Complementary color: colors that are direct opposites.  Yellow and purple, blue and orange, red and green.  It's handy to know these, particularly with paints.  My high school art teacher taught us to mix black before we were allowed to use tubes of black.  It's a lesson that I think about literally every time I paint!  A great way to mix black (or neutrals) is to use complementary colors. PS -- green and red work best to make black!

Warm and Cool: it's easy to think of warm colors as reds and yellows, and cool colors as blues and greens.  It's a bit more complicated than that, but that serves as a nice shorthand.  There are actually cool yellow and warm blues and everything in between.  My painting palette used to consist of one of each color, but now I include a warm & cool of each pigment.

Tone, tint, and shade: A tone is the "basic" color, ie: red or purple or whatever.  A tint is created by adding white and a tone is created by adding black.

This is a pretty basic overview of color.  It's a topic I could discuss at length!  It's endlessly fascinating and I hope you read some of the links I've included.

If you have time on your hands, go check out Colour Lovers.  They have a vast variety of color palettes available to browse, an iPhone app, and the ability to upload and create your own palettes.  Color Schemer is another favorite of mine.

Take a look at all of the beautiful color around you and think about using it Wednesday!  I'll be posting another Kawaii Kids doll and maybe another black & white set on Friday. 

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