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The Correspondence of Color By: Damon Freed

The Correspondence of Color By: Damon Freed


Damon Freed 1100 West 4th Street Sedalia MO, 65301, USA Chief Editors: Damon Freed and Timothy Johnson Chief Designers: Damon Freed and Nicholas LiVolsi This book is typeset in Helvetica Neue ©2018 Lulu All works and content by Damon Freed ©2018 Damon Freed, Sedalia, MO Font cover by Damon Freed and Nicholas LiVolsi Back cover by Damon Freed and Nicholas LiVolsi Printed in the United States of America First Edition Copyright ©2018 Damon Freed All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the written permission of Damon Freed.


The Primary Colors Primary – the blue, blue, blue sky, the ocean at noon Primary – the yellow, yellow sun, a canary, a daffodil, and on some nights the moon Primary – the red poinsettia, the womanly spot, an apple, the rose with a cardinal on top; No one individual should argue this, but they likely will – The Gods delight in us and science is fulfilled! Paint it, draw it, do it – you will find the truth in all that surrounds us if you look! From within us and from without us or inside of this book. The bluest eyes, the tiniest veins – The reddest lips no man could even tame . . . The yellowest teeth and the swab caked in wax – A pillaged mouth with all wisdom teeth removed by the dentist’s axe!


Summer Flowers, by Damon Freed 4

Contents The Primary Colors Poem




The Major Fundamentals of Color: Hue, Value, and Temperature


The Intermediate of Color Saturation


The Minor Fundamentals of Color: Equal Value, Vanishing Boundaries, Vibrating Boundaries, Middle-Color, Transparency, Optical Mixture, Simultaneous Contrast, Bezold Effect, Film Color, After Image


The Secondary Colors Poem


The Tertiary Colors Poem


Seven New Theories of Color

Correspondence of Colors Diagram 14

Correspondence of Colors Theory 15

The Psychology of Color Diagram 16

The Psychology of Color Theory 17

The Physiology of Color Diagram


The Physiology of Color Theory


Contemporary Chromatic Neutrals Diagram


Contemporary Chromatic Neutrals Theory 27

Traditional Chromatic Neutrals Diagram


Traditional Chromatic Neutrals Theory


Traditional Subtractive Primary, Secondary, Neutral, Complementary, and Triadic Historical and Contemporary Color Meanings Diagram


Traditional Subtractive Primary, Secondary, Neutral, Complementary, and Triadic Historical and Contemporary Color Meanings Theory


Y, R, B (Strong) Versus C, M, Y (Weak) Diagram


Y, R, B (Strong) Versus C, M, Y (Weak) Theory


About the Artist

40 5

Introduction My book The Correspondence of Color is intended for the use of artists and students alike. The majority of its content is original. But I found it necessary to establish the fundamentals before going into my own thoughts about color. “Hue,” “value,” and “temperature” are what I call the Major Fundamentals. The Intermediate is “Saturation.” The Minor Fundamentals are “equal value,” “vanishing boundaries,” “vibrating boundaries,” “middle-color,” “transparency,” “optical mixture,” “simultaneous contrast,” “Bezold effect,” “film color,” and “after image.” These fundamentals have been established over time by other workers in the field of color . . . I would like to refer my readers to Johannes Itten’s book The Art of Color and to Josef Albers’ book Interaction of Color. There, you will glean helpful information before the reading of my book on color. The Correspondence of Color is a book of extension into the realm of color, just as each successive book on color that proposes new theories should be. Therefore, I spent little time in my book explaining what’s already been discovered, except on at least two occasions I found it necessary to revise misleading historical ideas. Those are the theory of chromatic neutrals and the theory of chromatic greys. I find the two equally relevant and separate.


Color has evolved beyond what it once could do technologically. It has been advanced since the publication of several known books on color including those of Itten’s and Albers’. Colors are brighter than in the past, are more saturated from the start, and there are more of them. High saturation of pigment allows for greater mailability of the colors when mixing. Also, our understanding of color has evolved further into the realms of our psychological responses to color and of our physiological responses to color of which I present ideas about in my book The Correspondence of Color. My distinction is set forth clearly within this book. Understand also that I have used the best paint I could find in acrylic to create my paintings for diagrams, but that photography can never reveal the entire look or presence of a painting. And it is worth it to note that no photograph was altered to suit what could not be accomplished through the paintings themselves. And the difference in my understanding about color to that of Albers is that theory and doing is simultaneous. One does not come before the next. I used Golden Heavy Body Acrylics in the creation of my paintings for the diagrams in my book. My reason for painting in acrylic and not oil was to maintain consistent clean lined separations between the colors. Acrylic dries faster and is easier to tape off when clear boundaries between the colors is necessary. I find acrylics brighter and oils deeper. Each medium has its benefits in terms of process and color. Thank you.


The Major Fundamentals of Color With painting, there are three major fundamentals to consider: hue, value, and temperature. With hue, there is always the decision of which color and where. With value, there is always the decision of how light or how dark the color should be. And, with temperature, it is a matter of warmth and coolness. It should be noted that I came to this realization on my own through painting. Since then, I have discovered Johannes Itten’s book, “The Art of Color,” from 1961. “His first three ‘color contrasts’ (out of seven) were hue, light-dark, and cold-warm.” This is no doubt reassuring in our pursuit of color to know that color maintains a fundamental understanding in the realm of art and has not changed in a long time. In this way, we may continue forward.

The Intermediate of Color Saturation- Saturation refers to a color’s purity, intensity, or brightness from the beginning. When working with color, it is paramount to begin with the most saturated colors you can find. This allows for the most optimal amount of change through alteration of the color. The light to dark adjustments by adding white, grey, or black to a color is a matter of changing the value of the color, not the saturation. There is a difference between lightness and brightness. Brightness is apparent through saturation and lightness is apparent through shifts of value by using white.


The Minor Fundamentals of Color Equal Value- At least two different colors of equal lightness or darkness. Vanishing Boundaries- When at least two different colors create a softened boundary instead of a highly contrasted boundary. This occurs when the boundary is nearly indistinguishable between at least two colors; yet upon closer inspection one can see that the colors are different. Vibrating Boundaries- A glow that occurs when highly contrasting colors meet. The boundary between the colors appears to vibrate and a subtle white glow is produced where the colors meet. Middle-Color- In perception, the equal mixture of two outer colors. A middle-color is a color that is indifferent, or neutral, that lies between two outer colors. Transparency- Involving at least three colors, transparency is like middle-color, except the color that appears transparent does not have to be an equal mixture to our eyes of the outer colors. The transparent color can lean to one side or the other in appearance thereby creating spatial ambiguity. Optical Mixture- When colors that are separated come together and appear to blend at a distance. Simultaneous Contrast- Simultaneous Contrast is the effect of color that happens when the proximity of one color influences another. For example, a primary blue on a light orange background next to the same blue on a dark blue background will change our perception of the primary blue. This is how a person achieves the effect of getting two colors to appear as the same color or one color to appear as two different colors. Bezold Effect- The overall change in color to a composition when at least one color in an overall composition is switched. Film Color- Film Color is the effect of color that happens when we perceive a different color than the actual color of the surface. The color we perceive appears as a film of color floating just above the surface and is different than the actual surface color. Josef Albers set forth good examples of this in his book, Interaction of Color, (1963) he also presented many of the ‘minor fundamentals’ which I have included, such as, “simultaneous contrast,” “after image,” “vibrating boundaries,” “vanishing boundaries,” “transparency,” “optical mixture,” and the “Bezold Effect.” 9

After Image- This is the effect of color in duration. When we stare at a colored image for a moment of time and then look away to a white surface, we see a near reversal of color. I say “near” reversal of color because the color appears fainter than the original color we stared at but is a complementary colored version of the original image. For example, if we stared at a blue image and looked away we would see orange, etc.

The Mind’s Eye (Transparency), by Damon Freed 10

Correspondence of Colors, by Damon Freed 11

The Secondary Colors

A secondary is green – the growth of grasses, the moss that passes in the summertime, the mixture of yellow and blue gone sour as the apples on the limbs The next secondary is violet – double up on the colors red and blue, the king and queen have sneezed, Achoo! The last secondary is orange – orange you powerful today, and hey, what about the way the cactus blooms such an ordinary blue that is the complementary color of ORANGE! Orange you glad you’re reading my book!


The Tertiary Colors The tertiaries: Orange and yellow make yellow-orange and violet and blue make a wonderful color too, it’s called blue-violet. And yellow-green is there doing its thing, and red-orange with its furious saturation, it complements a cooler blue-green hue and what do you know, Red-Violet is there to save the show!


Correspondence of Colors Diagram












Correspondence of Colors Theory In perceiving color, there are two corresponding modes: psychological and physiological. They both are mental and physical in nature but I find distinguishing them is necessary for understanding. Psychological color has to do with our perception of light. Physiological color has to do with our perception of warmth. It can be said that our response to light is visual and mental, whereas our response to warmth is tactile and physical. I have diagrammed both perceptions to the best of my knowledge. The horizontal arrows in the diagram signify how light and warmth travel. Light and warmth being aggressive, signified by the solid arrows, and dark and cool being passive, signified by the dotted arrows. The left and right arrows, the vertical arrows, signify the correspondence and compatibility between psychological color and physiological color. I want you to understand that natural lightness and darkness correspond directly with warmth and coolness. Think of a low-lit room and a high-lit room. The warmer of the two is understood to be the high-lit room. Sunlight provides warmth, and darkness is a lack of sunlight and warmth. Therefore, it is plain to see that light, dark, warmth, and coolness are linked both in terms of the additive light color theory (projected light) and the subtractive color theory (reflected light). Whether dealing with a direct source of light (projected) or an indirect source (reflected) the theory stands the same. In the history of color theory, the term chromatic neutral has been applied to a middlecolor directly between a complementary pair. To my knowledge, it has never been applied to a middle-color between a monochromatically colored pair. For example, the middlecolor directly between a dark blue and a light blue can also be understood as a chromatic neutral according to my diagram. Chromatic neutrals are commonly understood to be grey in appearance through the combining of, for example, a blue and an orange, a red and a green, or a violet and a yellow. My diagram attempts to extend this understanding to middle-colors between tints, tones, and shades of all hues.


The Psychology of Color Diagram









The Psychology of Color Theory The psychology of color pertains to our perception of a color’s innate lightness or darkness. This diagram shows how we can perceive color (light) in varying intervals corresponding to either positive or negative emotional states of being. The history of painting tells us some truths about these categorical divisions of color that express specific emotions . . . For example, Henri Matisse, a painter who investigated the positive sides of color through varying degrees of excitement, joy and happiness, had this to say about painting: “What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter - a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.” And when viewing his paintings, it is plain to see a decisive lighter palette lending itself to an uplifting spirit and attitude about color. On the other side, there are artists such as Mark Rothko who have investigated the darker, sadder, more melancholiac, and depressive states of color and emotion. Rothko is quoted as having said, “I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.” And in his repertoire of painting there are both examples of positive and negative, light and dark. The ecstasy and tragedy, as he stated, were expressed clearly in his paintings through brighter and darker color palettes. And this brings me to the third aspect of my Psychology of Color Theory and Diagram. This aspect is found in the diagram’s vertical divisions of white, grey, and black. White representing birth (light and innocence), black representing death (dark and tragedy), and grey representing life (ambiguity); the combination of birth and death – light and dark – innocence and tragedy. It could be said that these symbolic characteristics manifest themselves best through drawing with charcoal or through painting with a strictly black, white, and grey palette.

*I would like to note my awareness of Robert Plutchik’s, “Wheel of Emotions,” from 1980. My awareness of his color wheel, of sorts, came long after my having completed The Psychology of Color diagram. What I would like to say is that I am an artist first, not a psychologist. In my own defense, my emotional states of being that you see in the diagram were prompted by color first, not the other way around. This is to say, I did not develop a color model to suit my awareness of emotional states of being. The color came first, my emotional responses second.



Untitled 17, by Damon Freed 18


Untitled 19, by Damon Freed 19

The Physiology of Color Diagram
















The Physiology of Color Theory Sir Isaac Newton’s color wheel in 1704, from “Opticks,” shows that color has been more or less organized between warms and cools until later in 1961, when Johannes Itten pointed even more articulately to the division between warms and cools in his book, The Art of Color. The division is not a new one, but my nomenclature, “The Physiology of Color,” is. My reasoning for dividing the warm and cool traditional primaries, secondaries, and tertiaries in the manner I have is to further your understanding of their binary powers. Their physiological implication is set forth in my diagram by a split division down the center between the warms on the left and the cools on the right. This is the most direct (and dramatic) way I could think of to demonstrate warms and cools without showing the effects of other colors on them. It is important to note that there are varying degrees of warmth and coolness. For example, as Itten indicated in, The Art of Color, a cool color placed next to an even cooler color may make the cool color appear warm given its context next to the cooler color. Nevertheless, there remains a fundamental division between warms and cools when contextualizing all of the traditional primaries, secondaries, and tertiaries alone together as seen in my diagram. It is also believed that warm colors advance into our vision and cool colors recede away from our vision. This is true most of the time. But, it needs to be stated that cools, given their context, can be made to advance. For example, a blue-green surrounded by a redorange appears to advance in an isolated context. Hans Hoffman was a brilliant colorist and his idea of push and pull is a good example of this when color is used well to emphasize spatial ambiguity. Warms – Yellow = Lightest Red-Violet = Darkest Yellow = Warmest warm Red-Violet = Coolest warm

Cools – Yellow-Green = Lightest Blue-Violet = Darkest Yellow-Green = Warmest cool Blue-Violet = Coolest cool

Intermediate Warms – Red-Violet = Most ambiguous warm in terms of warmth and coolness

Intermediate Cools – Yellow-Green = Most ambiguous cool in terms of warmth and coolness

*These results are based on Golden Heavy Body Acrylics. To my eyes, these colors are the truest to begin with. I find them to be the most saturated and balanced. The colors I began with are as follows: Primaries – Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Light, Cobalt Blue Secondaries – Permanent Green Light, Cadmium Orange, Medium Violet


Balanced palette of warms and cools

Untitled 21, by Damon Freed 22

Predominantly cool palette

Untitled 11, by Damon Freed 23

Predominantly warm palette

Untitled 4, by Damon Freed 24

Balanced palette of warms and cools

Beauty, by Damon Freed 25

Contemporary Chromatic Neutrals Diagram TINTS





Contemporary Chromatic Neutrals Theory Chromatic – of or relating to color or color phenomena or sensations (Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, 2017) Neutral – not decided or pronounced as to characteristics: indifferent (Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, 2017) By reading the definitions for chromatic and neutral above, we can logically surmise that chromatic neutral simply means color indifference. For example, if I were to situate three different colors side by side and the middle, or neutral, color was an even mixture of the outer two it could be said that it bears the quality of indifference toward the outer colors as it would not take sides. This is what I am describing in my diagram. It is my wish to extend the meaning of chromatic neutral to all chromatic neutrals of all varieties; be it a tint, tone, shade, or, a physical mixture of red-yellow-blue, or to a physical mixture of any complementary pair. In the diagram to the left you will find my example of contemporary chromatic neutrals. Mixtures of tints, tones, and shades of the traditional primaries and secondaries created by incorporating white, grey, or black to the pure colors or pure color combinations.


Traditional Chromatic Neutrals Without White = Browns not Greys Diagram









Traditional Chromatic Neutrals With White Added = Mostly Greys not Browns Diagram









Chromatic Neutrals, by Damon Freed 32

Traditional Chromatic Neutrals Theory Having established a broader definition of chromatic neutral, we now understand a chromatic neutral to be situated precisely between any two outer colors, otherwise referred to as a middle-color. Traditionally, it refers to the physical mixture of red-yellowblue plus white added, which creates what is said to be a chromatic grey, or, it is considered the physical mixture of any complementary pair which is said to create chromatic greys. But, as you can see from the diagram on pg. 29, this is untrue. I selected the purest colors I have found in acrylic and combined them to see the results. This means I worked with the purest blue I could find, the purest green, the purest red, etc. You will find that history is misleading, given my diagram. The physical mixtures of complements that I found was mostly a variety of beautiful browns, not greys. What history has left out when working with paint, is that you must add white to the mixture of any complementary pair to come close to grey as you can find on pg. 31. History has deceived us to a degree. A traditional chromatic grey, it can now be fairly stated, is a grey that is derived from mixing either violet, orange, and green plus white added, or by mixing any complementary pair with the addition of white, or by mixing red-yellow-blue-green-orange-violet together with white added. In so many textbooks and color theories, they forgot to tell us that you must add white to your mixtures. In the diagram on pg. 29, you will find the traditional chromatic neutrals created by combining the traditional complements of red-green, blue-orange, yellow-violet, and the tertiary complements. The diagram includes variations of these as well going both to the warm side and to the cool side. And for the sake of clarity on this matter, I have included the mixture of red-yellow-blue, the mixture of green-orange-violet, and the mixture of red-yellow-blue-green-orange-violet together. All was done in an honest attempt to find a chromatic neutral grey, the greys that history acknowledges to be true. I did not find a single one. The closest I came to a true chromatic neutral grey was a mixture of the secondaries together, the mixture of greenorange-violet. It yielded a cool brown one or two steps away from becoming a grey. So, for the record, remember to add white to your mixtures (pg. 31) if you are looking for true traditional chromatic greys.


Traditional Subtractive Primary, Secondary, Neutral, Complementary, and Triadic Historical and Contemporary Color Meanings Diagram

Happy (Danger, Light, Day, Summer)

Love (Royalty)

Power (Angst)

Wisdom (Melancholy, Water)

Passion (Angry, Confidence)

Growth (Calm, Spring)

Boyish innocence (Sky)

Girlish innocence

Modesty (Autumn)

Death (Knowledge, Truth, Birth (Innocence, Light) Negation of Light, Night)

Life (Ambiguity, Winter)


Powerful Harmony

Logic and Rationale

Primary Triad (Strong)


Subtle Harmony

Secondary Triad (Weak)

Traditional Subtractive Primary, Secondary, Neutral, Complementary, and Triadic Historical and Contemporary Color Meanings Theory The meanings closest to their color names are most personal to me. The descriptions and meanings in parenthesis are less personal but remain somewhat relevant personally, and highly relevant socially. This list has been developed through personal research and use. No in class testing has taken place. All the colors and their specific meanings have developed over time, intuitively, toward clarity of perception as a professional artist (painter) and Color and Design (Color Theory) instructor.

*These meanings are mostly based on responses to paint and to painted surfaces—a subtractive (reflected light) mode of perceiving by dealing with oils, acrylics, and ink. It should be noted that when using paint, oil, acrylic, and ink, that the traditional primaries, secondaries, and tertiaries are under scrutiny. Rather, there are many pigments that cannot be divided, pigments that cannot yet be mixed for, making them primaries. Among them are examples such as Manganese Blue, Quinacridone Red Light, and fluorescents such as, Chartreuse and Magenta.


Y, R, B (Strong) Versus C, M, Y (Weak) Diagram





CRL+CB = Mixture Similar to Primary Magenta

Mixture Similar to Cadmium Yellow Light = PY+ PM

CB + CYL = Mixture Similar to Primary Cyan

Mixture Similar to Cobalt Blue = PM + PC




Y, R, B (Strong) Versus C, M, Y (Weak) Theory As I sat down to finish this manuscript on color, I realized that something was amiss. I had not completed my research on the matter. I googled the Yale School of Art and discovered that the director of graduate studies in painting/printmaking was considering the primaries of cyan, magenta, and yellow to be the universal primaries of color. What I had assumed, I must admit, is that the historic primaries of yellow, red, and blue were correct. Therefore, I set out in acrylic to find the truth. I painted the afore painting to be made into a diagram (pg. 37) to disprove that the colors of cyan, magenta, and yellow were indeed not the true primaries. It worked. What I have found is that, in acrylic one cannot achieve the same results with cyan, magenta, and yellow that you can with yellow, red, and blue. Also, I googled, “What are the primary colors?” I was shocked not only to find out about views, but also, seemingly, the world’s views on this matter. Upon browsing the related images, I found that red, yellow, and blue were being taken over by images of the primaries cyan, magenta, and yellow. What I can say is this. The yellow, red, and blue colors are stronger in retinal appearance than cyan, magenta, and yellow. Thereby, in this book, making them dominant over cyan, magenta, and yellow. The colors I used to create my diagram are as follows: Cadmium Yellow Light Golden Brand Heavy Body Acrylic Cadmium Red Light Golden Brand Heavy Body Acrylic Cobalt Blue Golden Brand Heavy Body Acrylic VERSUS Primary Cyan Golden Brand Heavy Body Acrylic Primary Magenta Golden Brand Heavy Body Acrylic Primary Yellow Golden Brand Heavy Body Acrylic The mixtures in the diagram are advantageous in that they do not match up with each other across primaries. They are similar in comparison both ways. I could not mix to match either set of primaries using the other set. Moral of the story: Use whatever you feel like using to create a painting. 38

Winter Bird, by Damon Freed 39

About the Artist Mr. Freed began his art studies at State Fair Community College then received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts, New York City where he graduated with honors. His M.F.A. is from Hunter College, City University of New York. He teaches Drawing I, II, III, Design I, and Color and Design at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg and teaches Art Appreciation at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri. Mr. Freed has been represented by galleries in Saint Louis, Kansas City, and New York City. His most recent solo exhibitions include ‘Landscapes’ and ‘Obstacle and Void’ at the Bruno David Gallery in Saint Louis, ‘Four Point Perspective’ at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, and ‘Cadence’ at the Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art gallery in Kansas City.


The Correspondence of Color  

This book is a compendium of color theories compiled over three years by Damon Freed. In the book Damon Freed distinguishes between the psyc...

The Correspondence of Color  

This book is a compendium of color theories compiled over three years by Damon Freed. In the book Damon Freed distinguishes between the psyc...