Monday, November 30, 2009

What You See Depends

This is item 3 from the list around The Practical Colour Wheel.

Josef Albers (1888 - 1976 studied colour all his life.  In particular, he studied the effect of colours placed adjacent to one another.  They affect each other's value, saturation, and hue.  This is the visual effect of simultaneous contrast.  Mark Rothko's colour field paintings were based on this phenomenon.

Here is an example from the practical colour wheel pigments.  The pigments are (near) compliments (Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Orange).  The two complements were mixed to form a grey.  One of the complements was taken pure with a dab of white added, and placed in the middle of the grey.

"A Little Bit Lighter and a Hell of a Lot Brighter"

David Leffel would say colour against colourlessness.

And here are a few other samples of one colour affecting another.

Value, Tone, and Intensity

This has numerous implications to the artist.

Because of the field influence a pigment taken from the palette will "change colour" when applied to the canvas.  For example, if you mix on a toned palette and place paint on a white canvas, the initial strokes will appear darker.  As you continue to block in the painting will tend towards mid tone and the colours and values will remain more the same.  The opposite is true for a white palette.

Years ago I noticed a dramatic colour shift in a brush loaded with yellow ochre.  Before my eyes it turned green as I applied it to my canvas.  At the time the canvas was blocked in and the dominant colour mass was a transparent yellow.  Of course when you understand the make up of a non primary colour the outcome is a little easier to predict.  Otherwise, declare a mixing day or session on a regular basis.

Experiment with this concept.  The outcomes are endless.

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