Posts Tagged 'CA1-P2-P3-S1_2'

Initial stages of Project 3

Stage 1 – Introduction and preparation

The course notes begin with a very brief introduction into the huge topic of colour. I tried some quick mixing of paints to create colour wheels, first in gouache then in watercolour. I already had some gouache paints from starting the exercises in David Hornung’s book and was familiar with the idea that pigments have a colour bias or overtone. I used six co-primaries, to get the most vivid colours when mixing – for example lemon yellow when mixing green and golden yellow when mixing orange. Both types of paint went reasonably well, except for lack-lustre violet, and to quote Hornung (page 17) “when the goal is a ‘pure’ violet, those obtained through mixing will always be a little disappointing”.

Next was some exploration with red and green, complements so I was expecting some nice muted colours and maybe chromatic grays. I’ve been noticing a lot of red/green combinations around lately – not the brash christmassy look but muted, the red still rich but greens trending to towards chromatic gray. (side note: grey/gray is particularly annoying to spell. I suspect I will vary depending on what I’ve most recently read. Wikipedia just told me that “grey” is the British spelling, but the edition I have of Hornung uses “colour” (definitely British) in the title and “gray” in the text. Microsoft Word spell check thinks both are just fine, in UK, Aust. and US english. Bah!!)

Stage 2 – Colour perception

The first exercise looks at the interaction of colours. I think I got some good variations in the turquoise squares in the top set and the red in the bottom. My camera had some issues processing the colours – in particular the line around the turquoise on red is not apparent in life and doesn’t appear to be a shadow.

Observations and my interpretation: The turquoise on lemon yellow looks dark and drab (influence of the much higher value of the yellow). On the blue-violet it is much brighter and more saturated (difference in value – the hues a not so different which is interesting), while it is almost lost on the green (just too similar). On the dark red it looks most like its “real” colour (difference in value, close to complementary colours).

The red looks dark and dull on the golden yellow. It is unexciting on the pale blue and lost on the fuschia. It appears lightest on the dark violet. It looks most pure and saturated on the green, its complement.

In the second exercise we needed to put a small grey square onto different colours. When looked at hard, the grey should appear a little different – a tendency to the complement of the surrounding colour.

I searched quite a few shops but wasn’t able to find paper or card in a flat, mid grey. There would be a blue or green or red cast, or only dark and light, or a textured effect. In the end I used Word to create a white to black gradient and a series of distinct values of grey, and printed it on matt photo quality paper. Then I found the point which appeared to me between “light” and “dark” and used that for my grey squares.

The result (above) was disappointing. I could talk myself into the square on the red looking a little green, but I wasn’t convinced. Then last night reading Itten (p. 53) I found “When achromatic colors occur in a composition and adjoin chromatic colors of like brilliance, they lose their achromatic character. If the achromatic colors are to retain their condition of abstraction, the chromatic colors must be of different brilliance. … When gray is used as an active component in a color composition, then the adjoining chromatic tone must match the gray in brilliance”  (using the bopk’s spelling (bah!) and “brilliance” being close if not the same as “value”).

So I tried again, this time using different grays trying to match the value of each background colour.

Here is the result, in colour and in grayscale to see how close I got to the matching value. Generally my matching wasn’t too bad (better than I expected), with the exception of the fuschia. To manage complexity I stuck with the discrete sequence of greys I’d already printed and often I had to choose between lighter and darker.

The exciting part is that when I stare at one of the grey squares I really do start seeing a tinge of the complementary of the surround. I can’t do one after the other, my eyes seem to get tired of the game. Still, very pleasing.

Colour books

Assignment 2 starts with colour. Over a period I’ve collected quite a few books on colour or with chapters about it, so thought I’d begin by sorting out what I have and deciding which would be useful currently. It’s another all-text post I’m afraid – I thought of photographing all the covers, but the effort-to-benefit doesn’t really stack up.

Birren, F. (1987) Creative color: a dynamic approach for artists and designers, Schiffer
I find it hard to categorise this. Some of the material is copyright 1961 and it has an old-fashioned feel in text and illustrations. It has an almost recipe approach to some specific effects, showcasing particular palette selections. Still, it has some good information that I haven’t seen elsewhere.

Brito, K. (2002) Shibori: creating color & texture on silk, Watson-Guptil Publications.
This book has been hugely influential in developing my understanding of colour and colour mixing in dyeing. It took me a long while to appreciate the methodical, process-driven approach of the book which at first seemed rather repetitive and illogical. It introduced me to the Munsell system, which is a really clear way to precisely characterise a colour using hue, value and chroma (saturation).

Bryant, L., (2011) DVD. A fiber artist’s guid to color, Interweave
This DVD shows a great way to approach dealing with colours in yarns (for knitting, weaving, whatever), including the extra challenge where a yarn is not a simple, single colour. The examples of Laura’s own work are remarkable. The format and style make this a good choice for those working in fibres who are not comfortable with colour.

Chevreul, M.E. (revised edition 1987) The principles of harmony and contrast of colors and their applications to the arts, Schiffer
This is based on the first english edition of 1854. I’ve dipped into this and looked at the pretty pictures, but found it too heavy-going.

Delamare, F. and Guineau, B. (english translation 2000) Colors: the story of dyes and pigments, Harry N. Abrams Inc
A small volume going from pre-history through colour in the middles ages and on to the discovery of synthetic dyes. Lots of interesting tidbits.

Edwards, B. (2005) Color: a course in mastering the art of mixing colors, Hodder
Clear explanations and illustrations of colour theory, with exercises in mixing and use for painters.

Finlay, V. (2002) Colour: travels through the paintbox, Hodder and Stoughton.
A travel journal, exploring the history of colour, the places it comes from and some of the stories behind its manufacture and use.

Gage, J. (2006) Colour in art, Thames & Hudson
Another good book that I haven’t managed to read carefully. Chapters include psychology, shape, and language of colour, with copious illustrations from art.

Hornung, D. (2005) Colour: a workshop for artists and designers, Laurence King
This book is on the reading list for the course. I started doing the exercises here in 2009/10 but only got a short way. In hindsight, my method of little paper weavings didn’t really work or at least needed more flexibility after the first few exercises. Still, an excellent book.

Jerstorp, K. and Köhlmark, E. (1988) The fabric design book: understanding and creating patterns using texture, shape, and color, Lark
This is one of my favourite books – flipping through now I think it may have influenced my desire to learn weaving. There’s something about the overall approach and aesthetic that really appeals to me. The colour section has a lot of information in relatively few pages, using the swedish colour system which uses six clear or primary colours – yellow, red, blue, green, white and black. This is definitely on my re-read list.

Lambert, P., Staepelaere, B. and Fry, M.G. (1986) Color and fibre, Schiffer
I had looked through this a few times in the Guild library and was happy when I saw it available on line. Another that I’ve only dipped into – partly for the foolish reason that the cover was put on or printed upside down. This makes no difference to the content or readability other than irritating me.

Lancaster, D. (2010) Color and inspiration, self published http://www.daryllancaster.com
This booklet gives a brief overview of basic colour language. Its main focus is layouts showing an inspiration photo, the palette selected from it, a woven swatch and finished piece. Basically it’s a set of practical examples.

Long, J. and Luke, J. T. (2nd edition 2001) The new Munsell student color set, Fairchild.
This has lots of information (rather dry), but the really good part is a set of little colour chips that you sort and use to create colour charts laid out using the Munsell system. Fun, and a good way to start training the eye and understanding what the language means in practice.

Menz, D. (2005) Color in spinning, Interweave Press.
This starts with information on colour principles and quickly goes on to illustrate them with some great photos showing small pieces of roving, the spun yarn, and a knitted swatch. The book goes through a number of options to dye and process roving to achieve different effects and includes self-study exercises. I highly recommend it.

Menz, D. (2004) Color works: the crafter’s guide to color, Interweave Press.
This book has two major points of difference. Color concepts are illustrated with photos of spinning, knitting, weaving, hand embroidery, bead embroidery, surface design, machine embroidery, pieced quilting and paper collage. There is also a set of colour tools –  a colour wheel, shade charts, cards to help pick out various standard colour schemes etc.

Paterson, I. (2003) A dictionary of colour: a lexicon on the language of colour, Thorogood
Interesting to dip into. For example Roman Brown is “A copper colour also called Hatchett’s Brown“. Look up that and find “A copper colour. See Florentine brown“. Which I did and the circle closed. Well, it was a random pick. How about Helminthosporin – “A maroon-coloured pigment from fungus” – and hemeralopia – “day as opposed to night blindness where objects are seen more clearly when it becomes darker”.

Varichon, A. (2006) Colors: what they mean and how to make them, Abrams
This book is organised around colour groups – white, yellow, red, etc. – and for each describes their significance and use in various cultures. Each chapter also has brief notes and instructions on natural sources of the colour, for example ochers and yellow earth pigments, weld, and turmeric in yellow. A good read.

Wilcox, M. (revised edition 2004) Blue and yellow don’t make green: or how to mix the colour your really want – every time, The School of Colour
A practical approach to mixing colour in paint, with lots of illustrations showing mixes of different proportions.

I think that’s all, though I won’t be surprised if something else is unearthed later. Lots of other books have a few pages on colour before they go on to their major focus – beading or silkpainting or whatever. I’ll only mention one in particular – Phillips, J. (2008) Designing woven fabrics, Natural Time Out Publications. This has a section specifically on colour, but every piece presented has a “design brief” and notes including colour and the reasons and impact of particular choices. This is another in the Most Favourite Books section.

On the one hand, I’m rather surprised and pleased at how many of the books I have actually read (I thought my habits were more on the purchasing than the reading side). On the other hand, it’s as I expected but disappointing how little has stuck in my brain. Still, each time round a little more shifts into long term memory (there’s always hope!).

Not having enough choice, I borrowed another book from the Guild library yesterday – Itten, J. (1973 english edition) The art of color: the subjective experience and objective rationale of color, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. I thought this was on the OCA course reading list, but have discovered that is a different book. Still, it looks very relevant to the course so I think I will start reading here. It’s too big for carrying around to read on the bus, so I get to choose something else too…


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