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VIS 1: COLOR AND COMPOSITION Johannes Itten’s 12-point color wheel. Four ways of distinguishing color are by hue, value, intensity and temperature: Hue: Hue is another word for color. It refers to the basic color category of a color for example: red, yellow, blue, green, orange, and purple. Value/Tone: Value refers to the lightness or the darkness of a color. The value of a color can be lightened by the addition of white to a color. The value of a color can be darkened by the adding of black or the complimentary color to that color. So adding orange to blue will give blue a darker value. Different colors have different values when they are at their full intensity: Yellow is generally the lightest color; Orange and green are similar in value and are slightly darker than yellow; Blue and red are similar in values and are of a mid range value; while violet has the darkest color value. If you were to draw a picture of a colored object in black white and grey, you would use this rule as a general guideline to determine the value of each object. Paying attention to the value of a color is of primary importance because the eye perceives difference in value, before in perceives difference in Hugh. Intensity/Saturation: Intensity refers to amount of pigment that is used to create an image. Each color medium such as paint, oil pastels, or colored pencils, has a certain level saturation. Usually more expensive mediums have a higher saturation of pigment. The saturation of pigment laid onto the paper will vary according to the way the artist applies the medium. When working with colored pencil for example; the artist can choose to use a lighter touch to have a lower intensity of pigment, or to use a heavier touch to have higher color intensity. Using a lower intensity of pigment usually means that the paper or canvas will show through the image, thus the image can have a lighter or a darker value depending on weather the paper is dark or light. Temperature: Temperature refers to the way that color produces a sensation of warmth or coolness in the viewer. Studies show that a room painted blue will be perceived as being several degrees cooler than a room painted orange. A lighter value of one hue will be perceived as having a warmer temperature than a darker value of that same hue.


Warm Colors: Red Red orange Orange Yellow orange Yellow Red Violet

Cool Colors: Blue Blue Green Green Yellow green Violet Blue Violet

Color Harmony is when colors are used in a way that is pleasing to the eye giving the viewer the sense that the image is balanced. Scientifically determined color schemes lead to color harmony. Color Harmony achieved through contrast: Opposite afterimage: -Balance within a color combination that contains contrasting colors is based on the optical principle of opposite afterimage. When you look at a color for a certain period of time and then turn your eye away from that color onto a white surface you will see the compliment of that color. When you stare at the color red for instance, and then look at something white, the cells in your retina that respond to red will grow fatigued, and when the red is no longer there those cells will take a break. Then, when you look at something white, you will see all the colors of the spectrum bouncing off of it, except for red, making the white surface appear green. Due to this effect of the complimentary after image, the eye is constantly searching for the compliment of the color it is seeing, when it sees the compliment it is able to rest. When the eye is able to rest, this produces a feeling of harmony and balance in the viewer. Another way of thinking about it is that the eye always rests at a neutral grey, when two or more colors in a composition mix to form a neutral grey then the eye will see the image as harmonious. The mixing ratio to achieve middle grey will be depend upon the value of each of the colors that are in the mix.


Itten’s chart for harmonious color combinations Based on the principle of negative after image there are several formulas for balanced groups of colors: -The color sphere is a computer application that you can use to determine harmonious color combinations. (for downloading to a Mac, if you should choose to do so). Primary colors: The tetrad of the three primary colors Red, Yellow, and Blue, are balanced, and are the highest contrast color combination when each of these colors is fully saturated. Complimentary colors: Complimentary colors are two colors that lie directly across from each other on the color wheel. This is fairly obvious when looking at the 12-point color wheel, but complimentary colors can be determined for every color that lies between those 12 points. Split complimentary colors: On a twelve-point color wheel the split compliments of a color are the two colors that lie directly adjacent to that colors direct compliment. So the split compliments of blue are yellow orange, and orange red, while the direct complimentary of blue is orange.


Tetrads (4 colors): Any combination of colors on the 12-point color wheel that can be connected by a square or a rectangle, and also straddle the center of the wheel, form a tetradic color harmony. (Thus they will satisfy the eyes need to see the full spectrum of color.) Triads (3 colors): Any combination of three colors on the wheel that form isosceles or an equilateral triangles, and also straddle the center of the color wheel, will create color harmony. An arrangement forming an equilateral triangle will have a more extreme contrast than a non-equilateral isosceles triangles. Non-contrasting color schemes that create color harmony: Analogous colors: To create a low contrast image that has an overall sense of unity, one can make use of analogous colors. Any group of colors that is derived from the same hue of primary colors will be analogous colors. So red-orange, red, and red/violet are all analogous. A simpler way to think about it is that any colors that are in close proximity on the color wheel are analogous. Monochromatic Color: A sense of overall unity in a picture can be achieved using monochromatic colors: colors that fall closely within the same color family, or colors that are derived from the same hue, but have different values and intensities. All Color is Relative: Despite Itten’s rules for achieving color harmony, all color is relative. This means that how we perceive a color can shift dramatically depending on what colors are surrounding it, and what type of light is falling on it. So even if we use Itten's rules of color harmony, we may use a yellow that actually looks green, simply because of the colors that it is place next to it. The work of Josef Albers concerns the affects of color relativity. In the image by Albers below the two green squares are exactly the same color.


Van Gogh’s, CafÊ Terrace at Night. It is difficult make a correct representation of a Van Gogh painting because of the way that he uses the effects of color relativity. Which one so you think is the closest representation? Push and Pull of color: The push/pull of a color refers to the degree to which the color seems to either recede into the background or push into the foreground of the picture. -Generally lighter colors will push toward the foreground while darker colors will recede into the background. Of course the degree to which they do this will depend on the other colors that are next to them.

Hans Hoffman, Equinox, 1958 Rules of Color Contrast: Contrast of Extensions: Contrast of extensions is based on the idea that complimentary colors only create color harmony when they are used in the right proportion in relationship to each other. For each of the three basic pairs of compliments the harmonious ratios are. Red 1/2, Green 1/2 Orange 1/3 Blue 2/3 Yellow 1/4 Violet 3/4


As a general rule, to achieve color harmony colors that are brighter need to be used in a smaller quantity than their darker compliments. Contrast of Hue: Contrast of hue requires at least three clearly differentiated hues, three different colors. So reddish blue cannot contrast with blue or red ext, contrasting colors cannot be next to each other on the 12-point color wheel. At least 3 hues are required for contrast. The most intense color contrast occurs when red yellow and blue are used in their full intensity. The further that the hues get away from the 3 primary colors on the wheel, the less contrast there is. Examples of the most extreme contrasts of hue are: Red/yellow/blue, red/blue/green, blue/yellow/violet, yellow/red/blue, red/blue/green, blue/yellow/violet, violet/green/blue/orange/black. Relative contrast: Black and White: When single colors are separated by black or white their individual character emerges more sharply. Grey: Surrounding a color with grey will calm that color and lessen its contrast. Brown: Brown, like grey is also neutralizing. Brown can contain hints of any other color. For example if you want to create color harmony using red and yellow, but you do not want to use blue, then you can use a brownish blue instead, thus sneaking blue into the image. (This part about brown is purely made up by your professor, see if you agree). Value and Saturation: By varying the tonal value, and/or the saturation of the colors you use, you can add greater contrast to the image. A good rule is to use a varied amount of each value. So use a little bit of one tone, a medium amount of another, and a lot of the third. For example a lot of a medium tone a little bit of a dark tone and a tiny bit of light tone. It is said that most good pictures have contain a lot of medium tone. The Seurat drawings below are a good example of well-distributed tonal variations.


10 rules o f composi tion: Composition is the way that the artist controls how the viewer’s eye moves over the image. A good composition will hold the viewers attention for long enough to allow them to take in the artwork. Composition can also be used to control the order in which the viewer sees different parts of the image, and the rate at which the viewer moves from one part of the image to the next. 1) Natural Axis: Most images have a natural axis where the strongest vertical line meets the strongest horizontal line. A strong composition causes the eye to move across the axis into all four quadrants of the image. A good way to check to see if a composition is effective is to crop the image in half vertically and horizontally. If the image is still interesting when divided in half, then it is probably an effective composition. 2) Rule of thirds:

By dividing the picture plane into thirds on both the vertical and the horizontal axis you can determine 4 point of intersection that are preferred areas for the location of a focal point. The eye will naturally look for the subject in the center of the work: the rule of thirds prevents you from the temptation to put the focal point squarely in the center of picture, which would make the image seem too still, and would keep the eye from continuing to move over the picture. The rule of thirds is a simplification of the golden ratio, and is especially useful in photography and film when compositional decisions need to me made quickly.


3) The Golden Rectangle: The golden ratio and ideal ratio that is simply pleasing to the eye. (Thus it is eyedeal). The ratio is; A+B/A=A/B, which is about equal to 1.61 The golden rectangle is a rectangle in which the relation of the longer side to the shorter side is the golden ratio. The smaller section of a golden rectangle can be divided into another golden rectangle, and this can be repeated to create the golden spiral. Many painters compose by placing an axis along the division lines of the golden ratio, and by placing their focal point at the heart of the golden spiral.

3) Symmetrical Balance: Symmetrical compositions have pretty much the same structure on both sides of a central vertical axis. A tree has a symmetrical composition, so do brains, and most animals. Symmetrical compositions have a strong sense of order and authority. 4) Asymmetrical Balance or Balance of the Steelyard: When the focal point is away from central axis of an image it is necessary for it to be balance by a counterpoint that causes the eye to cross the central axis. A small object that is further away from vertical axis can balance a larger object that is closer to that axis. Asymmetrical balance can work when elements seem to be at the same depth in the image, it can also balance elements that vary in depth, causing the eye to traverse the depth of the image.


5) Rule of odds: The Eye will continue to be engaged for a longer period of time if there are an odd number of elements in a composition. The eye naturally groups like images into even numbers; if there is not an even number of like elements in a painting then the eye will continue to scan the image looking for the even element 5) Rule of principality, or of isolation: An object that is isolated from a group of similar objects will stand out as a focal point. An isolated object can also be balanced by a group of similar objects. 6) Leading Lines: The easiest path for the eye to follow is a line. The eye will follow a straight line very quickly. Lines can be used the draw the viewers eye to various focal points within the work. There are a number of ways to control the rate at which the eye follows a line. -A swerving line will slow down the eye and cause the viewer to notice detail. -An interrupted line can sharply turn the direction of the viewer’s eye. -Horizontal lines create a feeling of calm and rest. -Vertical lines create a feeling of stability -Diagonal lines can be destabilizing or disruptive. 7) Lines created in the viewers mind (and other ways of creating movement): There are many things other than drawn lines that will cause the viewer to follow a path within a composition: -The eye will create a line between two elements of the same color. -The eye will follow the motion of tonal variations that transition from either light to dark or dark to light. -The eye will follow rhythmic or repeated elements in a composition. These repetitions can then be broken to bring emphasis to a subject. 8) Entry and exit point Since the viewer exists in the real world, the artist needs to create a transition for the viewer to be able to move from the space outside of the canvas, into the painting. This is often a line or shape that is on the edge of the canvas and draws the viewers eye in towards the work.


The viewer also needs a place to exit the work. The exit does not have to draw the viewers eye off of the canvas, but at least out of the main activity of the painting. Think of the exit as the last scene in a movie, it can be very important. 9) Contrast If a picture does not have contrast it can be boring and disengaging. Contrasts within a picture should be at varying degrees of intensity. There are many different ways of creating contrasts -Contrast of scale would include elements of different sizes within a work -Contrast of color would include colors that are spread out on the color wheel. -Contrast of value will contain varying tones, light dark and medium 10) Variation Variation is what exercises the room for play within the boundaries that an artist establishes for their work. Mondrian paintings, for example, may seem monotonous, but they are actually all about all the variations that can occur within his limited way of working. Weather an artist works within a limited range or a wide range that defines their work, the possibilities for variation can be endless. An artist should always vary their work, within one art piece, and from one art piece to the next. My high school band teacher used to say “everything in moderation, even moderation.” I would like to modify that statement to say, “everything in variation even variation.”


Reading (required) due October 17th 2012  

color theory reading (required