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Old 09-09-2009, 02:13 AM   #1
Clayton J. Beck III Clayton J. Beck III is offline
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Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Oak Lawn, IL
Posts: 100
Re-post of Color Theory

Forgive me for the re-post but I just reread my original post from a year ago and was embarrassed at all my typos. Can I blame it on the new dictating program?

A practical guide to color

I have a few words on color that I would like to share if that's alright. I would like to preface this with the fact that these are the theories that I paint by and they are for practical purposes and not attached to color theory as a pure science.

Some understanding of how our eyes work will help a great deal in the understanding of practical color. Over 90% of our light receptors on our retina are sensitive to luminosity or black and white only. The remaining receptors see three colors red, green and blue. This is the familiar RGB from photography. All the other colors that we see our combinations of these three colors. Whole books have been written about the difference between vision and perception. A study of the field of perception will have a profound effect on the way you paint. It is simply not enough to think that our eyes collect information the way the camera does.

The basic understanding of how light works is also helpful. The differences between transmitted light and reflected light are important. They are also described as additive or subtractive light. Most reflected light sources, (examples are trees, apples and my child's face) are usually within the capable range of my pigments. Transmitted light sources (a lamp, a candle, the sun) are often outside of the value range of my pigments and therefore I must paint the effect of the value range instead of a literal translation.

The first thing in understanding practical color is that all color comes from the light source. It is not enough to understand this casually, it must truly be internalized. Different light sources yield different color gamuts. For instance, I realize that when I'm working under a north skylight I have a different color gamut than if I am working under a spotlight. If it doesn't come from the light source, it can't be seen with your eye.

The second thing I understand is that the color wheel, which I learned about in the study of art fundamentals, was a theoretical idea that has very little use in the practical world of painting. Although it is necessary, the color wheel is far too simple to be used as anything other than a toy. Mother Nature is far more complex and wonderous than a simple color wheel could possibly explain.

The next thing is the idea that cool colors recede and warm colors come forward. This just isn't true. Here are some things that I know about practical color working from life.

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