Friday, December 09, 2011

WeekWord: COLOR

Sally at Sow and Sew has picked the WeekWord, colour.  Please go there if you would like to participate and/or learn more.

We live in a colorful world!  Even in December, it's colorful!!!  (Either that, or I am!)

"Self-portrait at Three Rivers with Hug"
photograph by Mary Stebbins Taitt

It can be colorful at night, even though darkness causing our color vision to diminish. This is the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club from Lakeshore, near where I live:

"The Yacht Club by Moonlight"
Photo by Mary Stebbins Taitt
(Click image to view larger)

Winter can be colorful, in spite of all the white ice and snow:

Ice on Lake St. Clair at Lakeshore
Photograph by Mary Stebbins Taitt
(Click image to view larger)

Color affects our world, our tastes and our choices:

Photograph by Mary Stebbins Taitt
Click to view larger.

As an acolyte artist, (acolyte used here to mean, in this case, a beginner, one who studies, and a follower of art as a spiritual and plebian practice), I am fascinated by color.

The three primary ways to talk about color are: hue, value and chroma or saturation.

Please note:  because I am a BEGINNER, I may get some of this wrong, but I'll try.

   COLOR THEORIES Two theories explain how colors work and interact. The light, or additive theory deals with radiated and filtered light. The pigment, or subtractive theory deals with how white light is absorbed and reflected off of colored surfaces. As an artist, I am primarily interested in pigment theory. As a scientist, I am interested in light theory. Light theory has to do with the wavelengths of the hues. I probably won't have time to talk about that in a meaningful way this week. So I will talk (briefly, I expect) about pigment theory.

HUE We all learned about color wheels when we were in grade school. The primary colors in a PIGMENT color wheel are red, yellow and blue. 

by Mary Stebbins Taitt
(Click image to view larger)
I painted this image last night when I was up with terrible insomnia.  It used the three primary colors of pigment theory, which of course, everyone knows from primary school.  One thing I realized is that I create very few images with primary colors.

I did locate this photograph I took of a blue vase on the windowsill of a red barn with yellow flowers:

by Mary Stebbins Taitt
(Click image to view larger)
Of course, the primary colors can be used to create secondary and tertiary colors.  I painted the painting below as an exercise, copied from a book, using only the three primary colors.  Absolutely no other colors besides red, blue and yellow were used in painting this pictures.  It's a water color, one of my first:

"The Gatehouse"
by Mary Stebbins Taitt
(click image to view larger)

The secondary colors are orange green and purple. These colors are hues. They can be combined into other colors or hues.

VALUE The value of a color is how light or dark it is, how much light is reflected from it.
The picture shown below is "play," play with color. In this case, I was playing with value. I chose a single hue, red, and added light and dark to that hue. I arranged the pigment on the screen in a way that pleased me--for fun.

"Remembering Our Love"
by Mary Stebbins Taitt
a value study of sorts
(Click image to view larger)
Value without hue is white, shades of grey and black.

"Keith with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)"
by Mary Stebbins Taitt
A value study in black, white and grey
(click image to view larger)
This is a black, white and grey "value study" of my husband complaining of "Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)"--or maybe he's just tired and depressed.  Unfortunately, all the shades of grey did not reproduce.  Black, white and shades of grey are colors, in that artist can buy tubes of paint.  Some scientists consider black, white and shades of grey to be an absence of color.

This color value wheel

Shows the primary, secondary and tertiary hues in the white-marked portion, with darkening values going toward the outside of the circle and lightening values toward the inside of the circle.

SATURATION (or Chroma) is the color intensity of a hue. 

This is a kind of clumsy saturation wheel I hastily painted myself.

The colors (hues) around the outside are very saturated, and then are increasingly desaturated to the middle.  This is not entirely successful, because the values of these hues are not identical, but I couldn't colors with identical values.  It does show the effects of saturation.  Note that desaturated orange tends to resemble brown and desaturated yellow tends to resemble green.  (Olive green).

The orange was most successful, as shown by the desaturated version of it:

This fully desaturated orange section shows how closely the values in the orange section are to each other, meaning that the "color variations" in the colored saturation wheel above are do entirely to saturation levels and not to hue or value.

For comparison:

The color value study ("Remembering our love") shown above still shows values when desaturated (changes in light and dark).

In the following unfinished painting, done right over an older painting, I used desaturation to indicate distance and saturation to indicate closeness.  (I know the painting needs more work, but I am running out of time for this post.):

"Autumn Lane" (unfinished)
by Mary Stebbins Taitt
click image to view larger
"Autumn Lane 3-111207"
Can't leave it alone, got out the old palette knife
This image started out as a pointillistic pice in Tami's moleskine sketchbook (real ink on real paper).  Every time I play with it, I change it.  It is still supposed to be an example of saturation of color, and how desaturation makes things appear to retreat into the background.  However, this copy fails to reproduce the colors accurately.  And I can't fiddle with with it endlessly to get it perfect right now.

I hope you all have a colorful and joyous holiday season.  (I could add that on here, too.)


John said...

Couldn't let this pass without comment Mary, even if it is still under construction. Beatiful images and colors. In following you posts I now know a lot more about mushrooms (especially don't pick them , buy them :)) and now about colors too. I'm looking forward to the finished piece!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Thanks so much, John--I hope you'll come back and look again when I finish! Still hard at work.

bluerose said...

wow! I love your photos! especially the yacht club moon and the lake ice. I am fascinated by color, too. drawn to it. I think that's why I like your art. you always use such vibrant colors.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Thanks so much, Blue Rose! WooHoo! I really appreciate your comments. :-D

John said...

You have excelled yourself Mary, great paintings and images along with a great write up on color.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Thanks so much, John, I really appreciate your kindness. This is the way I learn and teach MYSELF.