Monday, December 19, 2011

Color Rules, as in, "The Roost."


This article was published at The Colorist, and I want to develop these color ideas here, too.  Enjoy:

There has been some call for me to reveal my opinions on the use of color.  When I demonstrate in person, students invariably wants to know why I pick each color as I work.  This series of posts will be my attempt to draw back the curtain on my ideas about color.  

After perhaps six, or maybe ten, of these posts, there will be some organization to what I am saying. For now, I'll just write things down as they occur to me.


  Color choice is a very personal thing.  I mean that in both intention and in talent.  You have your own color sense, and it is up to you to let it reveal itself.  Choose the color you want.  WANT!

  Kandinsky got it wrong when he assigned meanings to color.  That is, I think that the artist's job is to make the patron see his, meaning the artist's, own meanings. One should not pander to perceived ideas of what colors may mean to the viewer.

...umber comes from the earth already umber.

  I use the RYB color theory.  Red, yellow, and blue.  The reason I do is that I am not submitting my artwork to the printing press or the camera, at least not at the conceptual stage.  I will become involved in color mixing, and the RYB color space works well for this.

  In thinking about color theory, and in spite of the fact that I use the "old school" RYB method, I do think in terms of modern, or contemporary, color.  That is to say, we have the fattest color array available today.  Raphael would have given his left arm to work with this many colors.

  I begin with the hue.  More on this later, when I lay out for you my own theories on what is most important in approaching color.  By the way, I hope you are arguing with me about these things.

  A Color Solid is a fun and useful tool, also.  I have seen it used with the Munsell theory, so I just make adjustments in my head to see it my way.  Someday I will construct a Color Solid as I see it.

  Just because you know that color theory has evolved over time, does not make you "right" in your opinions about color theory.  It does reveal that opinions are subjective.  I need to focus on what works, and my tools are laid out before me.  It is important for the artist to know how to mix a brown he likes, but please also realize that umber comes from the earth already umber.


Robert Gamblin has a great video about his Color Space theories.  I differ in that I think of each hue as a two-part system named by its color, but not by its temperature.  More on that later.  I say, "blue-red" and "yellow-red," not cool or warm red.



Cindy Michaud said...

Keep it coming, and yes, I am challenging but humble! Love the first "rule" expecially.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks for reading, Cindy!