Saturday, February 14, 2009

Color Struggles

I will admit it.  I have had very little formal art education.  I'm not completely sure if this is a plus or a minus.  In some ways I think it lets me think outside whatever boxes you learn in art school... in other ways it means I have to learn a lot through trial and error.  Right now I'm learning a lot about color.  And just when I think I'm starting to develop some skills in choosing and using color, I find that I really don't know what I'm doing at all!  

I think color is a frequently shifting and potentially difficult subject.  I also believe that this nature of color has a lot to do with our perception.  As humans we like to think that what we see is really what exists in front of us, but I know that this isn't always the case.  How often do we think we're seeing and interpreting something accurately only to find upon further inspection that our brains have created a whole that is radically different than the original?  I both love and hate this aspect of working with color.  I find it fascinating that a color can do so many things depending on "environment"... but also find that quality maddening when trying to use color "successfully" in a piece.


  1. I learned everything I know about color from painting. Then, just when I figured I had it figured out, my ophthalmologist informed me that I don't see the color blue 'correctly' or the way other people do. It's very weird to think that people are seeing my work differently than I do... but then a lot of color is subjective anyway, I think.

  2. I spent all day yesterday struggling with color! We were painting our new apartment, and discovering how the color on the wall looks NOTHING like the color on the swatch. The grey color we were painting looked almost white on the sample card, and looked very dark and blue on the wall. I hemmed and hawed and stressed all day... and in the end, it wasn't exactly what we'd expected, but it is going to be fine. Kind of like life, I guess!

  3. A house painter once advised me to choose paint 2 shades lighter than you think you want for inside, and 2 shades darker for outside the house! Still, I was a bit shocked when my bathroom turned out purple instead of lavender!

    In art school painting classes I learned that we make assumptions about color. We had to learn to see what color things really look, not assume that grass is green or the sky is blue. Close one eye and squint the other one to get a more accurate look at the color. We were only allowed to paint from life, not from photos or memory, both of which can distort color and depth.


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