Color Theory

Color Swatch

Color Harmony

Color Terminology

Goethe Color Triangles


Sir Isaac Newton associated specific colors with the senses of hearing, taste and smell.

Each of the following musical notes can be seen as specific colors:

C = Red

D = Orange

E = Yellow

F = Green

G = Blue

A = Indigo

B = Violet

Certain colors evoke specific tastes and vice versa:

Bright Red, Orange, soft yellow, clear green = more appetizing

Other colors have a strong influence on our sense of smell:

Pale pinks, lavenders, yellows, and greens

Other associations:

Red = hot

Orange and yellow = warm

Blue = cold

Green = cool

Orange and Yellow = dry

Blue = wet

Blue = love, fidelity, purity, heaven, truth

Green = nature, growing

Purple = sorrow, royalty

Red = bravery and courage in heraldry

The Primary color not used in forming a Secondary color is its Compliment.

Equal amounts of the Primary colors = neutral gray.

In nature, all areas contain some mixture of all the primaries.

Colors differ in three major ways; hue, value, and intensity.

Depth or illusion of depth can be enhanced by the use of specific colors or color combinations. Stronger, larger and more intense colors appear to advance or come forward in the picture. In any color situation, however, the color, which is different from the dominant scheme, will be the one to advance.

Colors act as competitive forces and as such, intensify and as such intensify and bring each other into being. The strongest oppositions are those of the compliments. Our own awareness of color is always in terms of light; objects are revealed to us as they absorb and reflect light. The more light an object receives, the relatively more intense will be the local colors and their oppositions. Opposites cause greater tension.

Color Theorists:

Johannes IttenThe Art of Color

Joseph Albers

Albert Munsell—A Grammer of Color, Color Notation

Adolf Holzel—Theory of Color

Paul Klee

Michael Jacobs

Wilhelm Ostwald—Color Science

Faber Birren

Wucius Wong—Principles of Color Design

Johann Goethe

Moses Harris—The Natural Systems of Color

Sir Isaac Newton

Philipp Otto RungeThe Color Sphere

Michael Eugene Chevreul—The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colors

Ogden RoodModern Chromatics

Leonardo da Vinci

Color may be used to:

  1. Give spatial quality to the pictorial field
    1. color may supplement or substitute for value differences in order to give plastic quality
    2. color may create interest through the counter balance of backward and forward movement in pictorial space
  2. To create mood and symbolize ideas.
  3. To serve as a vehicle for the expression of personal emotions and feelings
  4. To attract and direct attention as a means of giving organization to a composition
  5. To accomplish aesthetic appeal by a system of well-ordered relationships
  6. To identify objects by describing superficial facts about their appearance

Spatial qualities are most fully revealed when there is one main source of light. Warm light tends to emphasize the yellow aspects and the compliment of purple. Working under different lighting conditions also influence our use or non-use of specific colors, ex. Working under red light will influence us in choosing more reds, under florescent light will influence our use of more blues.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s