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color studies

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color studies third edition

edith anderson feisner, retired faculty, visiting specialist, montclair state university ron reed, assistant professor texas state university

Fairchild Books / New York

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Fairchild Books An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Inc 1385 Broadway New York NY 10018 USA

50 Bedford Square London WC1B 3DP UK

www.fairchildbooks.com First edition published 2001 Second edition published 2006 This edition first published 2014 Š Bloomsbury Publishing Inc, 2014 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. No responsibility for loss caused to any individual or organization acting on or refraining from action as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by Bloomsbury Publishing Inc or the author.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress 2013938058 ISBN: PB: 978-1-60901-531-2

Typeset by Precision Graphics Cover Design by Sarah Silberg Cover Art by Marten Nettelbladt Printed and bound in the United States of America

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Table of Contents Preface............................................................................................................................................................................ xi Acknowledgments.................................................................................................................................................... xiii Foreword.......................................................................................................................................................................xv

Part I: Color Foundations......................................................................................................1 Chapter 1: What Is Color?......................................................................................................................................... 2 Chapter 2: Color Systems and Color Wheels.................................................................................................. 10 Chapter 3: Color Theorists..................................................................................................................................... 16 Chapter 4: Coloring Agents...................................................................................................................................32 Chapter 5: Digital Color Media and Technology........................................................................................... 42

Part II Dimensions of Color............................................................................................. 65 Chapter 6: The Dimension of Hue...................................................................................................................... 66 Chapter 7: The Dimension of Value....................................................................................................................74 Chapter 8: The Dimension of Intensity............................................................................................................. 88 Chapter 9: The Dimension of Temperature..................................................................................................... 98

Part III: Color in Compositions...................................................................................109 Chapter 10: Color and the Principles of Design............................................................................................110 Chapter 11: Color and Elements of Design.....................................................................................................130 Chapter 12: Color Interactions............................................................................................................................154 Chapter 13: Color and the Effects of Illumination.......................................................................................166

Part IV: The Influence of Color................................................................................. 183 Chapter 14: Color Symbolism..............................................................................................................................184 Chapter 15: Putting Color to Use—Past, Present, and Future................................................................206 Appendices............................................................................................................................................................... 236 Glossary...................................................................................................................................................................... 256 Bibliography..............................................................................................................................................................266 Index............................................................................................................................................................................ 272

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Extended Table of Contents

Preface................................................................................... xi

Moses Harris......................................................................19

Acknowledgments........................................................... xiii

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe....................................19

Foreword..............................................................................xv

Philipp Otto Runge....................................................... 20 J. C. Maxwell......................................................................21

Part I: Color Foundations

Michel Eugène Chevreul................................................21 Ogden Rood......................................................................21 Ewald Hering....................................................................22 Albert Munsell..................................................................22

Chapter 1: What Is Color?............................ 2

Wilhelm Ostwald............................................................24

Objectives............................................................................ 2

CIE........................................................................................25

Physiology........................................................................... 2

Johannes Itten.................................................................25

How Light Gives Objects Color................................... 5

Alfred Hickethier.............................................................26

Factors in Perception...................................................... 5

Josef Albers...................................................................... 27

Media and Techniques............................................... 5

Faber Birren......................................................................28

Eye and Brain............................................................... 6

Frans Gerritsen................................................................29

Psychology and Culture............................................ 6

Concepts to Remember.............................................. 30

Local, Optical, and Arbitrary Color............................ 7

Key Terms............................................................................ 30

Concepts to Remember................................................. 8

Exercises................................................................................31

Key Terms...............................................................................9 Exercises.................................................................................9

Chapter 4: Coloring Agents.....................32 Objectives..........................................................................32

Chapter 2: Color Systems and Color Wheels............................................... 10

Additive Color Mixing...................................................32

Objectives.......................................................................... 10

Pigments and Dyes...................................................33

The Pigment Wheel.........................................................11

Binders and Grounds............................................... 37

The Process Wheel..........................................................12

Color Printing.............................................................39

The Munsell Wheel..........................................................13

Traditional Photography:

The Light Wheel...............................................................14

Film and Transparency........................................... 40

Concepts to Remember................................................15

Concepts to Remember................................................41

Key Terms..............................................................................15

Key Terms............................................................................. 41

Exercises................................................................................15

Exercises............................................................................... 41

Chapter 3: Color Theorists.........................16 Objectives...........................................................................16

Chapter 5: Digital Color Media and Technology....................................................42

Color Theory in the Ancient World...........................16

Objectives..........................................................................42

Leonardo da Vinci...........................................................17

Electronic and Digital Media......................................42

Sir Isaac Newton..............................................................18

Computer Technology and the Web..................43

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Subtractive Color Mixing.............................................33

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Digital Color Tools, Models, and Palettes..........43

Light Wheel.................................................................67

RGB Color Model................................................ 44

Process Wheel............................................................68

HSL Color Model..................................................45

Broken Hues.....................................................................69

CMYK Color Model............................................. 46

Hues in Compositions...................................................70

Hexadecimal or HTML Color Model ..............47

Concepts to Remember............................................... 72

Digital Color Palettes.........................................48

Key Terms.............................................................................72

Computer Color Monitors......................................48

Exercises...............................................................................73

CRT Monitor..........................................................48 LED Monitor......................................................... 49

Chapter 7: The Dimension of Value........................................................................ 74

OLED Monitor...................................................... 50

Objectives.......................................................................... 74

Digital Photography..................................................51

The Values of Hues......................................................... 74

Color Depth..................................................................51

Discords........................................................................ 75

Electronic Image Types...........................................53

Value and Spatial Clarity..............................................78

Raster Images.......................................................53

Shading........................................................................78

Vector Images......................................................53

Pattern and Texture................................................. 80

Color Printers and Scanners..................................53

Emotion....................................................................... 80

Paper Color and Printing..................................54

Definition and Emphasis........................................ 80

Scanners.................................................................54

Contrast and Toning................................................ 80

Color Management.........................................................56

Value in Compositions..................................................82

Densitometer..............................................................56

Order.............................................................................83

Spectrophotometer vs Colorimeter.................... 57

Concepts to Remember...............................................86

GretagMacbeth ColorChecker..............................58

Key Terms............................................................................ 86

LCD Monitor......................................................... 49

Digital Color in Contemporary

Exercises...............................................................................87

and Applied Arts............................................................59 Key Terms............................................................................ 63

Chapter 8: The Dimension of Intensity................................................................88

Exercises.............................................................................. 63

Objectives..........................................................................88

Concepts to Remember...............................................62

Part II Dimensions of Color

Chroma...............................................................................88 Colored Grays..................................................................89 Complementary Hues...................................................89 Complementaries on the Different

Chapter 6: The Dimension of Hue......66

Wheels......................................................................... 90

Objectives..........................................................................66

False Pairs.....................................................................91

Mixing Hues......................................................................66

Glazing..........................................................................92

Pigment Wheel..........................................................66

Intensity in Compositions............................................93

Munsell Wheel............................................................67

Balance.........................................................................93

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Intensity and Value.................................................. 94

Translucency............................................................. 136

Effects of Depth....................................................... 94

Volume Color ........................................................... 136

Proportion...................................................................95

Film Color...................................................................137

Concepts to Remember...............................................96

Intensity and Space................................................ 138

Key Terms............................................................................ 96

Presentation.............................................................. 138

Exercises.............................................................................. 96

Line....................................................................................140 Outlining....................................................................140

Chapter 9: The Dimension of Temperature.....................................................98

Legibility.................................................................... 142

Objectives..........................................................................98

Form and Shape............................................................144

Mixing.................................................................................98

Texture.............................................................................. 145

Neutrals..............................................................................99

Reflective Surfaces................................................. 146

“Relative� Temperatures............................................100

Light.................................................................................. 148

The Effects of Backgrounds...................................... 101

Types of Lighting.................................................... 149

Tonality............................................................................. 102

Concepts to Remember.............................................. 151

Proportion....................................................................... 103

Key Terms ......................................................................... 152

Metals................................................................................105

Exercises............................................................................. 152

Other Types of Line Formation.......................... 142

Concepts to Remember............................................. 107 Key Terms...........................................................................108

Chapter 12: Color Interactions............ 154

Exercises.............................................................................108

Objectives........................................................................ 154

Part III: Color in Compositions

Afterimages.................................................................... 154 Successive Contrast............................................... 155 Simultaneous Contrast.......................................... 156 Achromatic Simultaneous Contrast.................. 156

Chapter 10: Color and the Principles of Design........................................ 110

Chromatic Simultaneous Contrast.....................157

Objectives......................................................................... 110

Optical Mixing................................................................ 159

Rhythm.............................................................................. 110

Concepts to Remember............................................. 164

Balance.............................................................................. 113

Key Terms ......................................................................... 165

Proportion........................................................................ 116

Exercises............................................................................. 165

Bezold Effect............................................................ 158

Scale................................................................................... 118 Harmony.......................................................................... 122

Chapter 13: Color and the Effects of Illumination..................................................... 166

Concepts to Remember..............................................127

Objectives........................................................................ 166

Key Terms........................................................................... 128

Shadows........................................................................... 166

Exercises............................................................................. 128

Time and Weather......................................................... 171

Emphasis........................................................................... 119

Metamerism and Color Constancy..........................174

Chapter 11: Color and the Elements of Design........................................130

Chromatic Light.............................................................177

Objectives........................................................................130

Luminosity..................................................................177

Space................................................................................. 131

Iridescence................................................................ 179

The Illusion of Transparency................................ 133

Luster..........................................................................180

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Structural Color..............................................................177

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Key Terms ......................................................................... 182

Chapter 15: Putting Color to Use—Past, Present, and Future..........206

Exercises............................................................................. 182

Objectives.......................................................................206

Concepts to Remember.............................................. 181

Part IV: The Influence of Color

A Brief Survey of Color in Art History..................206 The Paleolithic Era.................................................206 Ancient Egypt........................................................... 211 Egyptian Painting............................................... 211

Chapter 14: Color Symbolism............... 184

Color in Egyptian Fashion............................... 211

Objectives........................................................................ 184

Ancient Greece........................................................ 212

How Color Influences Life......................................... 184

Greek Sculpture and Ceramics..................... 212

Color Associations in Language

The Greek Color Palette.................................. 212

and Emotion............................................................. 185

Ancient Rome........................................................... 213

Black, White, and Gray.......................................... 185

The Middle Ages...................................................... 213

Red and Pink............................................................. 186

Early Medieval Mosaics.................................... 213

Orange and Brown................................................. 186

Medieval Manuscript Illumination................. 214

Yellow.......................................................................... 186

Medieval Stained Glass.................................... 214

Green........................................................................... 187

Medieval Tapestries.......................................... 214

Blue.............................................................................. 187

The Renaissance...................................................... 214

Purple, Violet, and Indigo..................................... 188

The Baroque............................................................. 216

Influences of the Dimensions of Color.................. 188

The Modern World and Color............................. 216

Religious Symbolism................................................... 189

Neoclassicism and Romanticism.................. 216

The Bible.................................................................... 189

Impressionism and

Christianity................................................................ 189

Postimpressionism............................................ 217

Judaism...................................................................... 192

Decorative Arts in the

Islam............................................................................ 192

Nineteenth Century.......................................... 218

Buddhism and Taoism........................................... 192

Modernism and the Late

Hinduism.................................................................... 192

Twentieth Century............................................. 218

Cultural Symbolism...................................................... 193

Color Application in Contemporary Arts............ 220

The Zodiac...................................................................... 194

Environmental Arts................................................. 221

Academic Color............................................................. 194

Architecture........................................................ 221

Flags and Heraldry....................................................... 195

Landscape Design............................................ 222

Color and the Environment....................................... 197

Interior Design................................................... 223

Color in Nature......................................................... 197

Product Design................................................. 224

Human Use of Natural Effects

Studio Arts............................................................... 226

of Color....................................................................... 197

Sculpture............................................................. 226

Color and Health Care................................................ 199

Ceramics.............................................................. 226

Chromophobia..............................................................200

Glass......................................................................227

Color and Universal Design...................................... 201

Photography.......................................................227

Synesthesia.................................................................... 203

Fiber Arts............................................................ 228

Concepts to Remember............................................ 205

Fashion...................................................................... 229

Key Terms..........................................................................205

Clothing............................................................... 229

Exercises............................................................................205

Jewelry................................................................. 230

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Commercial Arts .................................................... 231 Graphic Design................................................... 231

Appendices Appendix 1: Color Content Identification

Color Consulting and Training................................ 232

Charts................................................................................. 236

Color Marketing and Forecasting Trends............ 233

Appendix 2: Chronological List of

Conclusion..................................................................... 234

Color Theorists............................................................... 243

Concepts to Remember............................................ 235

Appendix 3: Coloring Agents—Dry Binders.......246

Key Terms.......................................................................... 235

Appendix 4: Coloring Agents—Liquid Binders..... 247

Exercises............................................................................ 235

Appendix 5: Coloring Agents—Pigment Origins and Characteristics of Common Colors...............248 Appendix 6: Hue—Various Art Media Matched to Color-aid Paper Pure Hues................249 Appendix 7: Web Sites for Educational Resources......................................................................... 253 Appendix 8: Helpful Organizations........................254 Glossary............................................................................. 256 Bibliography.....................................................................266 Index................................................................................... 272

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Preface

T

he writing of the third edition of Color Studies has afforded the opportunity to update information as well as add to the existing text. The study of color is constantly shaped by changes in art and design, the increased use of technology, and new discoveries and perspectives on the subject of color theory. The progression of fine and applied arts—both academic and in practice—has informed the future of this subject, which changes as our work and our societal cultures evolve. With the advent of the third edition of Color Studies, we have added a coauthor, Ron Reed, to enhance the imparting of knowledge regarding the myriad technological changes that have taken place since the publication of the second edition, as well as to address color application across both fine and applied disciplines. The third edition of Color Studies attempts to close the gap between fundamental theory and applications and the need for practical use of color through traditional and technical mediums that accommodate changes in art and design practice. It has also strengthened the multidisciplinary approach to exploring and studying the subject of color, while balancing the traditional and modern perspectives of the field. Examples are drawn from fine art, interior design, architecture, fashion, and graphic design. This book aims to give students in all the visual and applied arts a thorough grounding in the history, psychology, and physics of colors, as well as a review of technological advances, training, and tips for putting that knowledge into practice. Rather than addressing issues that pertain to specific media, the book introduces fundamental principles that should prove useful to all art students and artisans, be they painters, interior designers, photographers, fiber

artists, potters, commercial and graphic designers, or others who use color in their work. The chapters unfold in teaching order; each forms a basis for the next so that readers will build their knowledge from a sturdy foundation. The technicalities of color are quite complex, so each chapter has been updated and new content added to further expand and broaden the discussion on color theory. The chapters are organized into four sections, with each focusing on a specific content area, building and adding to the fundamental knowledge of color and progressing to more complex concepts toward the end. The inclusion of learning objectives, concepts to remember, key terms, and expanded exercises in which to apply and explore what has been learned provides instructors with additional options for preparing and organizing each chapter when teaching a course on color studies. An increased focus on technology as well as multidisciplinary approaches to color use and application have been included, providing readers with a more detailed and broad-scope appeal to studying color. The course and the book have been developed to address the common concerns about color elicited by these diverse media, and the material will be valuable to students studying color regardless of their academic backgrounds and future aspirations.

Organization of the Text Part I: Color Foundations Part I outlines color fundamentals. Here the reader will be introduced to the basics of light, the eye/ brain color-processing system, and the history of color theory, as well as the various color wheels

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available and their application to specific art media. There is an additional chapter on color technology and the use of digital media. Within Part I, Chapter 1 introduces the reader to the foundational theories for seeing and perceiving color. Discussions on the physiology of the eye, light and color, perception, and psychology are covered. Chapter 2 provides a comprehensive review and comparison of the key distinction between the color systems and wheels that create the three components of color mixing— subtractive, additive, and partitive color. Chapter 3, Color Theorists, presents key researchers in the science and psychology of seeing and reacting to color. Comparisons of these different theoretical approaches provide a framework for a more informed study of color and the opportunity for new theories to evolve. Chapter 4 discusses coloring agents for additive and subtractive mixing, with added content on the development of sustainable and green processes in color mixing and dying. Chapter 5 is a new chapter on digital color media and technology that focuses on the increased use of digital tools, and which balances theory and application of color and electronic media. New exercises at the end of the chapter help students explore color from the input theory—additive/light—of using computer technology and graphic software programs to the output side—subtractive/ink—discussed in the chapter.

Part II: Dimensions of Color Part II explores in detail the four dimensions of color—hue, value, intensity, and temperature. Chapter 6 discusses the dimension of hue and provides new content on the topic of reflected color and broken hues in the applied arts of interior and architectural design. Chapter 7 presents the dimension of value; it includes new figures and the concept of clash harmony alongside discord to expand the phenomenon in the applied arts. Chapter 8 presents the dimension of intensity. In this chapter the reader will explore color strength and how our perception of color saturation is affected by surrounding hues and values. Chapter 9, The Dimension of

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Temperature, describes how color temperature can be altered using black and white and complementary colors. Warm and cool color proportions, metallic finishes, and surrounding color all contribute to perceived changes in color temperature. Additional figures explore the effect of color temperature in the applied arts.

Part III: Color in Compositions Part III pursues these four dimensions further by studying the principles and practice of design— specifically, examining how colors interact and how shadows and light affect color perception and usage. Chapter 10, Color and the Principles of Design, has been greatly expanded to include over eleven new and improved images. The chapter examines rhythm, balance, proportion, scale, emphasis, and harmony, and discusses how these principles are achieved through the applied use of color. Chapter 11, Color and the Elements of Design, illustrates space, line, form/shape, texture, and light, and examines how each affects our visual perception of two- and three-dimensional compositions with value and color. Chapter 12 explores color interactions, including afterimages, optical mixing, and phantom colors. New images demonstrating Josef Albers’s techniques, the Bezold effect, and vibrancy have been included. In Chapter 13, Color and the Effects of Illumination, the relationship between color appearance and light and shadow is explored and discussed with updated figures. New concepts covering metamerism and color constancy have been introduced, with additional figures exploring these concepts. Part IV: The Influence of Color Part IV focuses on the psychological and cultural aspects of color. The language, emotions, and symbolism of daily life are deeply influenced by color, as is revealed in our history of pigment use in past and present cultures, and in the fine, applied, and electronic arts, including future applications. Chapter 14, Color Symbolism, explains how color

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is seen and experienced differently throughout our world based on influences by religion, culture, and symbolic rituals. The section on color and health care has been expanded to include information on chromophobia, color and universal design, and synesthesia. In Chapter 15, Putting Color to Use—Past, Present, and Future, the reader will take a historical journey through the use of color in major art and design movements. A presentation of color application in environmental, studio, and commercial arts is explored. New to this chapter is content covering color consulting and training, color marketing, forecasting, and color trends. This third edition also includes revised, updated, and additional appendices: Color Content Identification Charts, Chronological List of Color Theorists, Web Sites for Educational Resources, and Helpful Organizations. The following appendices have been moved to become part of the text in pertinent chapters: Value Orders, Color Legibility, Color Symbols in Religion, and Historical Color Palettes. We have also updated the majority of illustrations to reflect current imagery and have included more than 100 new images related to current and new content on the fine and applied disciplines. The new edition of Color Studies is an effort of Edith and Ron’s combined twenty-two years of experience teaching the subject of color. The book is a result of Edith Feisner’s many years of teaching the subject of color to students enrolled in all the major courses offered by the Fine Arts Department at Montclair State University in New Jersey—from painting, fiber, and ceramics to jewelry, printmaking, papermaking, photography, film/video, illustration, and graphic design. Since her faculty retirement, Edith has continued with her exploration of color information and research, as well as with her work as a fiber artist. Ron Reed began teaching color theory as a graduate student at Colorado State University in 2002. He has continued teaching the topic of color, with focus on color pedagogy in interior design; color, design, and health; color and consumerism; marketing and

branding with color; and psychological attachments and associations of color as they shape our perceptions and behavior within the built environment. As both an interior designer and artist, Ron explores color through the lenses of both traditional research and creative outlets.

Acknowledgments Edith Anderson Feisner—No book is written by itself, and this third edition would not have been possible without the critical assessments offered to me by the friends, colleagues, and artists we contacted. I must also express my thanks to the Fine Arts Department at Montclair State University for my education and for the opportunity to teach color studies for twelve years. My heartfelt gratitude goes to Ron Reed for his collaboration on this third edition. It has been a joy to work with him and to utilize his expertise and the contributions from his students at Texas State University, as well as those from my former students at Montclair State University, who have gone on to distinguish themselves in the art world. Special thanks to Richard O’Brien, president of Color-aid Corp., for writing the Foreword to the third edition of Color Studies. Thanks, too, Father Mefoddi, for sharing your icons with us. I am eternally grateful to Fairchild Books for giving me the opportunity to have the three editions of Color Studies published. In 1998, I signed my first contract with Fairchild Books and met Olga Kontzias, the executive editor. These fifteen years of working with Olga have been a delight, and have led to friendship as well. Olga, I wish you joy as you retire, and I look forward to our continuing friendship. Thank you. My heartfelt thanks to Julie Vitale, development editor, for all her help, advice, and patience. Julie, you are a treasure. I also want to thank Susan Simpfenderfer, iD8-TripleSSS Media Development; Joseph Miranda, senior development editor; Avital Aronowitz, photo researcher;

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Sarah Silber, associate art director; Linda Feldman, production editor; and Ginger Hillman, production director, for all their input. My underlying gratitude is extended to Dave (my husband and best friend for fifty-two years) for his encouragement, patience, technical advice, goffering, and management of my e-mails; to my daughter, Maria, for her bright smile and reassurance, and for keeping this household running smoothly; and to my son, Ernst, for his encouragement and ability to aid a computer dummy in distress. Ronald L. Reed—I have the most heartfelt gratitude and respect for Edie Feisner and the graciousness she has extended in bringing me into this project as coauthor for the third edition of Color Studies. This has been a full-circle moment for me; when I began teaching color theory, it was with the first edition of Color Studies, which was routinely referenced for lecture and presentation of the topic to my students. Who would have thought that over a decade later I would have the opportunity to work with the author of this wonderful piece of literature? It has been a pleasure getting to know Edie, and I’m forever grateful for this opportunity to work with her on the third edition. To Julie Vitale, development editor, you have been tremendous in organizing and keeping both Edie and me on target with the book. I am very thankful for your work to help make this edition happen and for your guidance on the details in producing this edition. I am sincerely grateful for Olga Kontzias, executive editor at Fairchild; this project would not have been possible without you. Thank you for the many other opportunities you’ve given me over the years with Fairchild. It has been a pleasure working with you, and I’m forever thankful for your faith and encouragement in my work. You have become a wonderful friend along this journey and I wish you all the best. My respect and gratitude is extended to Dr. Robert Ross, professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas

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at Fayetteville. It was in his class on color theory as an undergraduate in the early 1990s that my passion for color developed. His unrestrained approach to teaching Josef Albers’s techniques and allowing his students to explore color left an impression on me that influences my own teaching of color to this day. I’m grateful for the reviewers of the new edition, and to those who contributed to the new chapter on Digital Color Media and Technology. The time and dedication they extended to offer their professional guidance and suggestions were of immense value in making this new edition successful—thank you! I would like to personally thank the many artists, designers, and educators of color—past and present—whose work on color influences me daily. And thank you to my students, who continue to enlighten and surprise me with their personal journeys exploring color, and who make the teaching of this magical part of our everyday lives an absolute joy. Last, I would like to thank my dear friends, Roy Solis and Dr. Keila Tyner, for their support and encouragement along the way. I am very grateful for each of you.

Dedications Edith Anderson Feisner—Color Studies is dedicated to Him who allowed me to fulfill my dream of having this book published, and to M. Anne Chapman (1930–1986)—artist, teacher exemplar. Anne brought color to Montclair State University and into my life. I will always be grateful for her shared knowledge, but most of all for her friendship. Thank you, Anne, for never letting me assume. Ronald L. Reed—I dedicate the work herein to my nephew, Connor Waters, whose bright smile and laugh at the age of three. remind us all of the simple things in life. You bring joy to my life, and I look forward to seeing you grow and explore the colorful world around you. I love you—Uncle Ron.

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Foreword

A

s an artist, a graphic designer, or one working in any of the applied-arts professions, an understanding of colors, how they relate, their symbolism, and how they are perceived is fundamental to your work. Joyful or morose, eye-catching and bold or subtle and meditative, whatever the feeling you wish to visually express or brand identity you wish to proclaim requires a trained eye and a sensitivity to the interaction of color. The better the choices, the clearer the effect. The study of color is of particular interest to me because of my involvement with Color-aid Corp., a business that has been manufacturing colorcoordinated sets of silk-screened paper for more than sixty years. Our Color-aid sets are often found in art and design classrooms, as many teachers find them useful when discussing color and performing color-related exercises. Back in the 1950s, Josef Albers, artist, educator, and chairman of the Department of Design at Yale, incorporated Color-aid paper into his classroom demonstrations. Albers had been an influential and innovative teacher at the Bauhaus in Germany, where he taught a foundation class in design. Our papers aid in teaching, as they are available in a wide range of hues, tints, and shades and allow for an easy way to compare colors without the variations in texture or transparency associated with mixed paints. Part of Albers’s class was to give students an understanding of the static and dynamic properties of materials through direct experience. Often we receive calls from customers seeking a recommendation for a book on color. Color Studies is the book I like to recommend most because it gives a wonderful introduction to the field of color research and principles. In it we can learn about the scientific characteristics of colors and a way to describe them.

We can learn about the attempts made throughout history to understand and classify color. We can learn about the interplay of colors in compositions and how light and shadow alter the effect. Of particular interest is the section on the psychological and cultural aspects of color. Knowledge of the symbolic nature of color is a powerful tool and is included in this section. Edith Anderson Feisner and Ron Reed’s writing is clear and concise. The chapters are well organized and logical in their presentation. Color photographs and figures are generously found throughout the book and are well chosen to illustrate key concepts. I especially like that each chapter has exercises giving students the direct experience Albers believed so necessary to understand color. The new edition of Color Studies has been updated and expanded to reflect the most up-to-date information, while still providing a balance between the traditional and modern assessments of color studies. A new chapter (Chapter 5) has been dedicated to the latest in digital color media and technology. Also new to this edition is discussion of sustainable color applications and green materials as the underlying components of colorants, dyes, and inks in textiles, printmaking, and paints. I enjoy hearing from our customers and learning about the ways they experiment with colors. A random sampling includes a quilting group in the Midwest, a team of marine biologists working with dolphins, and a high-tech company calibrating lasers. We also have requests from photographers shooting for retailers such as Tiffany & Co. and Target Corporation, companies known for their signature blue and red, respectively. One customer created elaborate paper sculptures of eighteenth-century French courts, and another created sculptures using

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paper and swimming pool noodles for an exhibit in a museum. Over the years there have been many artists who have used Color-aid paper to play with color combinations before beginning larger works; one of the more widely recognized artists was Andy Warhol, whose Factory was down the street from our former business location. In the third edition of Color Studies, the authors’ love for color is clearly evident, and their enthusiasm for the material makes for an engaging and rewarding experience. It is a must-read for everyone interested in the fine arts, interior design,

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architecture, fashion, industrial design, and graphic design. The knowledge gained from this book will not only help you to develop a language for explaining to your future client why a certain color scheme works better than another, but will provide you with a springboard for all your creative pursuits.

January 2013 Richard O’Brien President Color-aid Corp.

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Part I

Color Foundations

T

hree basic elements are required

centuries. On our historical journey, we’ll

for an appreciation of color: a light

meet such individuals as Leonardo da

source, an object, and a viewer. Part I

Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Munsell,

begins with the fundamentals of color

and Josef Albers. Their influence on the

observation. We describe the physiology

discipline of color remains strong today.

of the eye and how light imparts color to

We will look at coloring agents—

objects, as well as the psychological and

additive, subtractive, and partitive color

cultural factors involved in perception.

mixing—as well as pigments, dyes, binders,

These factors in turn affect whether an

and grounds. Finally, we will explore

artist chooses to use local, optical, or

the

arbitrary color. Next, we examine the

employment of color in the arts.

realms

of

modern

technology’s

different color systems and “wheels,”

While we explore the various visual

along with their application to different

media available today, this text has been

media.

written not to give “how-to” instructions

The

science

and

psychology

of

color have had fascinated thinkers for

for specific media, but rather to provide tenets of color usage to all art media.

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Chapter 1

What Is Color? Objectives

After reading this chapter, you will be able to: ➲➲ Describe the process of light transmission and the anatomy of the eye in the physiological process of how we see color. ➲➲ Differentiate the various factors that affect our perception of color. ➲➲ Compare and explain the differences between local, optical, and arbitrary color.

M

ore than any other element of design, color has the ability to make us aware of what we see, for nothing has meaning without color (here we extend the meaning of color to include black and white). Try to describe the sky, for example, without referring to color—it is very difficult. Color defines our world and our emotions. It is usually seen before imagery. Our eyes are attracted to color to such an extent that the color of an object is perceived before the details imparted by its shapes and lines. At first glance we do not see the different species of trees present in a summer woodland, but rather see the preponderance of green. The artist, architect, and designer, however, are generally concerned with having color and imagery perceived simultaneously. Upon entering a room, we first see the color or colors used in the interior design and then discern the furnishings and artifacts contained within the space. An artwork, be it fine or commercial, is aesthetically pleasing to the viewer when its color usage allows the viewer to see the content of the piece (both color and imagery) together. When

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this is accomplished, a work’s message is conveyed immediately, without a “second look” on the part of the viewer (Figure 1.1). Color can also be described by two very different methods or points of view—objectively, by referring to the laws of chemistry, physics, and physiology; and subjectively, by referring to concepts of psychology. Similarly, our perception of objects depends both on physical factors—such as their actual hues (i.e., the name of a color: red, yellow, blue, etc.), or their lightness and darkness in relationship to surroundings (the value of a hue)—and more psychological and cultural factors.

Physiology Physiologically, color is a sensation of light that is transmitted to the brain through the eye. Light consists of waves of energy, which travel at different wavelengths. Tiny differences in wavelengths are processed by the brain into myriad nuances of color,

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1.1 Henri Matisse (1869–1954), The Red Studio, 1911. Our initial impression is of an abundance of red color. We must take a second look to determine the objects in The Red Studio. This is an example of how color is seen before imagery. However, Matisse has tempered this initial reaction with judicious use of values and complementary combinations. Source: © Copyright The Red Studio. Issy-les-Moulineaux, fall 1911. Oil on canvas, 71 1⁄4 in × 7 ft 2 1⁄4 in (181 × 219.1 cm). Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund © Succession H. Matisse, Paris/ARS, NY. Location: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, U.S.A. Photo credit: Digital Image. © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY/©Artres.

in much the same way that our ear/brain partnership results in our interpretation of sound. Sound lets us interpret our auditory language; color lets us interpret our visual language. Because each of us is unique, our eye/brain reactions differ. Thus, when we speak of color, we cannot speak in absolutes but must resort to generalizations. These are sensations that seem to happen to all of us. As light passes into the eye (Figure 1.2), it comes in contact with the covering near the back of the eye

known as the retina. The retina is made up of layers of different cells, including those known as rods and cones. The function of the rods is to allow the brain to see dimly lit forms. They do not distinguish hue, only black and white. The cones, however, help us to perceive hues. The cones in the eye recognize only red (long wavelengths), blue-violet (short wavelengths), and green (middle wavelengths), and they relay these color messages to the cones of the fovea, an area at the center of the retina, to transmit them

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retina

vision centers

right occipital lobe cornea fovea

left occipital lobe

right-hand geniculate body

left-hand geniculate body optic chiasma

pupil aqueous humor iris

vitreous humor optic nerve

crystalline lens

1.2 The human eye. We distinguish the world of color after light passes through the cornea and pupil and strikes the retina, which subsequently passes messages to the fovea from where they are transmitted to the brain.

optic nerve

optic cord

fovea cones

fovea cones

retina rods and cones

retina rods and cones

right eye

left eye lens

lens

Source: Color, 3e, by Paul Zelanski and Mary Pat Fisher, 1999 (Laurence King/Prentice hall Inc.).

focusing point

to the brain. The brain then assimilates the red, blue-violet, and green impulses and mixes them into a single message that informs us of the color being viewed. When we see red, for example, it is because the red-sensitive cones are activated while the green and blue-violet cones are relatively dormant. Keep in mind that objects emit many colored wavelengths (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet), but our eye cones break down these colored wavelengths into red, blue-violet, and green, which our brain then pro-

field of vision

1.3 The eye/brain processing the color yellow. The yellow sensation is passed through the lens of the eye and is converted in the retina to the light components of red and green. From the retina these components are conveyed to the fovea, which transmits them to the brain. The brain mixes the red and green messages to create the yellow that we see.

cesses into the colors we actually see. Yellow is the result of the green-sensitive and red-sensitive cones being activated and mixed while the blue-violet cones remain comparatively inactive (Figure 1.3).

“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.” —Oscar WILDe, IrIsH WrIter aND POet

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How Light Gives Objects Color Our reaction to color is, on one hand, physiological, which we’ve learned about through scientific research, but it is also psychological, and thus very individual, which must include mental conditioning. Color is a sensation that is the result of light, and it is seen before form. We must also be aware that as light changes, so does color. Color is everywhere, and it assists us in visualizing forms and distinguishing different objects or parts of objects. Because color is constantly changing, the sensations we experience are the result of a number of visual processes all working in concert. On the physical and chemical levels, our perception of color depends on how molecules bond and the resulting absorption or reflection of light rays, which impart the sensation of various hues: red, yellow, blue, etc. The great physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) was a pioneer in studying light under laboratory conditions to provide a logical framework for understanding color (see page 18). His early research into color phenomena resulted in his discovery that sunlight is composed of all the colors in the visible spectrum (Figure 1.4). Using a ray of sunlight directed through

violet blueviolet blue

prism lig

ht

Factors in Perception There are many factors affecting our perception of a color, such as the surroundings of the object, its surface texture, and the lighting conditions under which it is seen. How much of a color is used, whether it is bright, dull, light, or dark, and where it is placed in relation to another color are also crucial factors in our perception.

green yellow

ray

a prism, Newton observed that the ray of light was bent, or refracted, resulting in an array of projected colors, each with a different range of wavelengths, in the following order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, blue-violet, and violet. This array, the constituents of light, is known as the visible spectrum. When light strikes a surface, certain wavelengths are absorbed and others are reflected (bounced back) by its pigments, or coloring matter. This process gives the surface its color. We use the term “surface color” to denote the hue of an object. For example, we see red when only the red wavelengths are reflected off the surface of an object, such as a red apple, and the remaining wavelengths are absorbed. Different combinations of reflected wavelengths form all the observed colors. When all the wavelengths are reflected off a surface and mixed, the result is white. (“White light” is the light that we perceive as daylight at noon.)

orange red

the spectrum 1.4 The visible spectrum. Of the seven light waves, violet has the shortest wavelength and red the longest. A close examination of the colors of the spectrum also reveals that the human eye can detect graduated colors between them, such as red-orange between red and orange, and blue-green between blue and green.

Media and Techniques Our perception of color in works of art is strongly affected by the type of medium used. Painting alone offers myriad different types of media, such as oil, acrylic, and water, which affect our perception of color. Drawings impart different results depending upon the utilization of various instruments, such as pencils (in various hardness), pastels, crayons, conté,

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inks, chalks, and markers. Printmaking can be done using litho inks and litho crayons, as well as paints. We must also take into consideration the type of support employed—canvas, board, paper, cloth, and so on—and what grounds are used, such as gesso or primer. Even the different brands of paint can cause us to perceive color differently because of the media used for the mixture. How does a pencil line or sketch affect the visual perception of color in a watercolor painting? The textile artist produces a vast array of product by various techniques, such as embroidery, weaving, quilting, lace, discharge, and dyeing. All of these can be accomplished using a vast array of yarns and fibers, each imparting its unique qualities of sheen and texture. Ceramic glazes can result in an overlapping of colors that change our perception of the piece. We can also experience the

same types of color variations in printmaking. Consider also that interior design and fashion combine many types of media and textures that can produce a different perception of the same color (Figure 1.5). While the performance arts require communication skills, those skills are brought to life through judicious use of color. Think of the theater, TV, concerts, and street performances—without color, who would notice? Modern technology has totally surrounded us with color—the computer has brought color into newspapers, film, TV, videos, and even our telephones, not to mention the mobile communication devices we all now rely upon. Communication today is dominated by the use of color.

Eye and Brain The human eye in combination with the brain’s reaction tells us how to distinguish the type of color being seen, as well as its relative purity and lightness. But memory also exerts an influence. Most of what we see is based on the memory of a color—when and how we have experienced it before. In addition, certain colors are perceived more easily than others. Yellows and greens are seen before other hues, while red and violet are the most difficult to perceive. If we take another look at the hue order of the visual spectrum, we see that a perception curve is formed, with the yellow and green hues at the curve’s height and red and violet forming its lower extremities (Figure 1.6).

Psychology and Culture

1.5 Illustration of interior space—the Red Room in the White House, Washington, D.C. Notice that the red on the walls, on the upholstery, and on the rug all appear different, as well as the white of the candles, the molding paint, the flowers, the bust sculpture, the lampshade, and the porcelain lamp base. These color nuances are the result of the influences of the different types of media. Source: Photo by Bruce White, copyright White House Historical Association (781).

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Memory, experiences, intelligence, and cultural background all affect the way a color’s impact can vary from individual to individual. This is not to say that the eye will physiologically perceive the color differently, but that its psychological perception will mean different things to different people. In most Western cultures, for example, black is associated with death, but in China and India

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100

Local, Optical, and Arbitrary Color

yellow-green

relative lightness

80

60

40

20 violet

400

red

500

600

700

wavelength (NM) 1.6 The perception curve. The yellow and green wavelengths register highest on the relative lightness axis. Someone with normal vision perceiving colored lights of equal energies will register the yellow-green segments of the spectrum first, because they appear brighter than all the other ones.

white is regarded as a symbol of death. In America and many Western cultures, a bride usually wears white, as white is deemed a bridal or wedding color. In China, however, a bride is attired in red. The mailboxes on the streets of the United States are blue, but in Sweden the mailboxes are red. An American tourist in Sweden might have a more difficult time finding a site to mail those postcards home because of the color change from the familiar blue to red. Advances in technology have also resulted in color perception changes. For example, we now refer to the use of pink-ribbon logos as the “pinking of America” for these logos have come to serve as reminders of breast cancer awareness on advertising and articles—the health testing and prevention as well as the charitable organizations seeking funds for this worthy cause. We are also attempting to become “green” through endeavors put forth to clean up and protect our environment. Reforms, movements, and causes are regularly put forth using color verbiage.

The quality of light further determines the quality of any color that we see. A red barn in brilliant noon sunlight will appear red, but that same red will be perceived differently at sundown or on a rainy day. Armed with this knowledge, artists, architects, and designers can influence the color sensations of those who view their work. They may use color in three ways to impose these sensations: local or objective color, optical color, and arbitrary color. Local color is the most natural. It reproduces the effect of colors as seen in white daylight, exactly as we expect them to be: blue sky, red barn, and green grass. When the artist has a highly realistic style, the composition is rendered in exact colors and values (Figure 1.7). We often find that catalog and advertising art, such as packaging, is done in local color. Young children also depict their art in local color. Optical color reproduces hues as seen in lighting conditions other than white daylight: in the rain or a thunderstorm (Figure 1.8), at sunset, or in indoor lighting, for example. Again, the composition is usually rendered in a somewhat naturalistic way. Arbitrary color allows

1.7 Ferrari F430. The local color of this car (pure hue red) stands out from the natural surroundings on a bright, cloudless day. Source: NEIL ROY JOHNSON / Shutterstock.com.

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1.8 Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: The Savage State, 1834. Oil on canvas, 39 1⁄4 × 63 1⁄4 in (99.7 × 160.6 cm). The New-York Historical Society, New York. Weather conditions determine subtle changes in the optical color of this landscape. The effects of sunlight originating beyond the left of the painting can be seen tingeing the light-green leaves in the left foreground, while gray thunderclouds serve to darken the landscape in the central and right-hand areas. Source: Collection of The New-York Historical Society.

the artist to impose his or her feelings and interpretation of color onto the image (Figure 1.9). Here, natural color is abandoned for the artist’s choice. A gray stone bridge may be executed in warm oranges and beiges if the artist wants the bridge to impart a feeling of vitality and warmth. Arbitrary color is most often seen in 20th-century art, especially among the Expressionists and Fauves, whereas local and optical color are employed in more realistic styles of art. In the commercial world, posters are often rendered in arbitrary color to attract attention.

1.9 Odilon Redon, The Golden Cell (Blue Profile), 1892. Oil and colored chalks, with gold, 11 7⁄8 × 9 3⁄4 in (30.1 × 24.7 cm). British Museum, London. Bequest Campbell Dodgson. The Symbolist painter Redon uses a gold background in order to suggest a Byzantine mosaic of the fourteenth or fifteenth century, which typically employed this color. However, he chooses to interpret the woman’s dreaming face in arbitrary color, associating her in his fantasy with the Virgin Mary, who is traditionally rendered in blue. Blue is also utilized to symbolize tranquility and dependability, which were desired feminine traits in the 1890s. Source: © The Trustees of the British Museum / Art Resource, NY / © Artres.

zz The color imparted by an object is produced by the mixture of wavelengths reflected from its surface. zz Our perception of the color of an object is dependent upon several factors, such as

Concepts to Remember

illumination, media, technique, quantity, relationship to other colors present, memory, and culture.

zz Color is usually seen before imagery. zz The physiology of the eye and the brain’s

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zz Most color usage employs one of three aspects of color—local, optical, or arbitrary—

reaction enable us to perceive light as dif-

and any of these can be manipulated by users

ferent colors.

to create desired reactions in the viewer.

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Key Terms

Exercises

Hues

Visible spectrum

Value

Pigments

Wavelengths

Gesso

photographs. How do the different condi-

Retina

Texture

tions affect the object’s color?

Rods

Local color

Cones

Optical color

Fovea

Arbitrary color

1. Observe an object under different lighting conditions and, if you can, take some color

2. Collect and label pictures (magazine photographs are good) showing local, optical, and arbitrary color.

3. Using a drawing of the same object, render it in the media of your choice in local, optical, and arbitrary color.

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Color Studies, 3rd Ed, by Edith Anderson Feisner and Ron Reed  

The 3rd edition of Color Studies introduces students from all concentrations of visual arts to color theory, the physiology and psychology o...

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