Notes on Color Theory
The name of a color. There are two classes:
1. Primary (i.e., blue, red, yellow).
2. Secondary (green, orange, violet)
The amount of light reflected by a hue; the greater the light
reflected, the higher the value.
The purity of a hue; the higher the saturation, the purer the
hue. Value and saturation are not constantly related: high saturation yellow
has a high value (reflectivity); high saturation violet has a low value.
Also called intensity.
Pairs of colors, such as red and green, that together embrace the entire
spectrum. The complement of one of the 3 primary colors is a mixture of
the other two.
-- red/green -- blue/orange -- yellow/violet
Methods of Producing Color:
|Combination of diferent pigments:
a) on the palette
b) on the canvas.
Mostly primary colors used; if any pair of complementaries are mixed,
produces black. Mixture of all 3 primaries produces black.
|Combination of colored lights, not pigments.
The additive primaries are different: red, green, blue-violet.
red + green = yellow, or yellow-orange.
green + blue-violet = blue-green or cyan blue.
red + blue-violet = purple.
All 3 primaries together = white. Any two complementaries together =
* tiny dots of pigment on canvas may lead to the effect of an additive mixture
in the eye from a distance
Sources of 19th Century Color Theory:
For further reading:
- M.E. Chevreuil, De loi du contraste simultane des couleurs (1839).
-- simultaneous contrast, complementary halos, optical mixture.
- Charles Blanc, The Grammar of Painting
(1867). Blanc suggested the use of small dots, or stars to create
- Ogden Rood, Modern Chromatics (1881 French translation). Explained
difference between mixing light and mixing pigments.
- David Sutter, Phenomena of Vision (1880). -- irradiation, or value
- Charles Henry, Cercle Chromatique (1889). Developed a psycho-physical
aesthetic; related lines and colors to emotional expression.
- Robert Herbert, Seurat, catalog of exhibition, New York: Metropolitan
- William Inness Homer, Seurat and the Science of Painting, MIT Press,
- Norma Broude, ed., Seurat in Perspective, Prentice-Hall, 1978.
- Jose Arguëlles, Charles Henry and the Development of a Psycho-Physical
Aesthetic, U. of Chicago Press, 1968.