"ART is a word which summarizes THE QUALITY OF COMMUNICATION. "
L. Ron Hubbard

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Color attributes and their relationship

A rough color value scale
I have often heard the plaintive cry from students that "I just don't know how to mix color." So I decided to offer a course in color theory, and I'm currently running a class of 8 students at the Reston Community Center. The major attributes, and those we're doing exercises on first, are hue, value, saturation and temperature.

I realized yesterday, from a student's question, that the relationship between these attributes is sometimes not well understood. For instance, "hue" refers to the quality that distinguishes red from green from blue. But hue refers to the saturated color: pure red, pure blue, etc. So a grey or a beige is a color but not precisely a hue. It's a neutral. In tinting or shading a pure hue, you're always going to affect that hue to some degree. Addition of white always cools the color. Addition of an analogous color (such as adding yellow to red to lighten it) changes the hue. Adding black or a complement to darken the hue brings it off the outside of the color wheel and it becomes a neutral.

Also, the beginning student may not realize that the neutrals include not only "grey" in various values from white to black, but warm and cool greys, beige, and the whole spectrum of neutral and partially neutral shades and tints.

When I'm having the class do an exercise to establish the "home value" (or basic value) of a hue (red, for instance, is considerably darker when applied as a fully saturated hue than yellow) against a grey scale, The hue will be modified  as to its value, saturation and even temperature as we lighten and darken it.

What splendor we can add to our paintings if we understand and can work with all the attributes of color.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

your value are off in the example. red and green are mostly around the midvalues. Yellow is very light, almost as white, and the violet and blues are dark. PS i'm talking about maximum chroma of course.