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Chapter 6 Summary—English

Color

Lesson 1: The Properties of Color
Color has great expressive qualities; so it is important to understand what it is and how you see it. Color is an element of art derived from reflected light. Every color is the product of a combination of reflected light waves—white reflects all light waves and is, therefore, a combination of all colors. By bending a white light wave through a prism, we can see the color spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Color has three properties, which work together to make the colors we see. (1) Hue is the name of a color in the color spectrum. Red, yellow, and blue are the primary hues in pigments. Mixtures of these make the secondary hues: orange, violet, and green. And six intermediate hues are mixtures of primary and secondary colors. Mixing a hue with its complement dulls the hue, or lowers its intensity. Complementary colors are the colors opposite each other on the color wheel. A color wheel is the spectrum bent into a circle. It is a useful tool for organizing colors. It shows the primary, secondary, and intermediate hues. (2) Value is the element of art that describes the darkness or lightness of a color. You can add black or white to hues to change their values. (3) Intensity is the brightness or dullness of a hue. A light value of a hue is called a tint. A dark value of a hue is called a shade. To lower the intensity of a hue, you can mix it with its complement.

Lesson 2: Color Schemes
To avoid putting colors together in a confusing or unpleasant way, an artist uses colors according to a plan, called a color scheme. For a monochromatic color scheme, an artist uses only one hue and the tints and shades of that hue. This type of scheme unifies a design, but it can be boring. Artists can employ analogous colors, colors that sit side by side on the color wheel and have a common hue. Using this scheme, they can tie one shape to the next through a common color. By using complementary colors, artists create lively designs. They can also use a color triad, composed of three colors spaced an equal distance apart on the color wheel. The primary triad is composed of red, yellow, and blue. The secondary triad contains orange, green, and violet. To make this combination more comfortable to look at, however, an artist may need to change the intensity or value of the hues. A color scheme that offers more variety is the split complement. The split complement uses the combination of one hue plus the hues on each side of its complement. Finally, artists may choose to use warm or cool colors, which are associated with certain moods.

Lesson 3: Understanding the Nature and Uses of Color
The type of pigment, binder, and solvent that are used in paint affect the color you see. Pigments are finely ground, colored powders that form paint when mixed with a binder. The binder is a material that holds together the grains of pigment. The solvent is the liquid that controls the thickness or thinness of the paint. In the past, pigments came from animals, vegetables, and minerals. Now, brighter, synthetic pigments are available. Artists use color to express thoughts, ideas, and emotions. They can represent optical color, the color that results when a true color is affected by unusual lighting or its surroundings. The Impressionists used optical color to express the sensation of light and atmosphere. Other artists use arbitrary color, based on personal preference. They use color to express meaning and affect moods. Color can also be used to create illusions of depth and a sense of movement. Warm colors seem comforting, and cool colors seem mysterious. And when the values in a work change quickly, a feeling of excitement and movement is created. Sometimes, to unify a work, an artist lets one color, such as blue, dominate. This is called tonality.

 

 
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