Tuesday, August 14, 2012

day 2 color theory

Local Color-the next part of the color theory formula is local color.  Identifying what color the object is outside of a light temperature influence.  If the hue is saturated it is easier to identify than if the color is tinted, grayed or pale by any means.

If we think of an apple, a red one, we can think of any number of reds in the family but some will inherently look warmer, with more yellow, or cooler, with more blue in them.  When put under the influence of a spot light, we get a warm healthy looking red.  When under the shadow light, usually blue, we get something that feels cool, cold, and maybe even crisp.  When photographing food it is important to think about the lighting by color to keep the food looking healthy and edible, not peaked or decayed, something we would not want to put into us.

Local color for flesh varies from race, age and exposure to the elements.  But we can say that most of the time skin is very neutral by color, maybe even earthen.  Flesh is not a color formula, especially since there are so many colors that can perform similarly when mixed.  But, there are other formulas that work well to help guide the artist to making better mixing decisions.

LocalColor + DirectLightColor +Indirect Light Color + Reflective Light Intensity/Color = The Color mixture for whatever spot you are about to paint in the direct light

LocalColor +Indirect Light Color + Reflective Light Intensity/Color = The Color mixture for whatever spot you are about to paint in the indirect light

The reason color is difficult to teach is because there has been no real formula for getting a color correct.  Some schools teach temperature but do not give a thorough description.  Many schools teach from an organized well-used palette that has been traditionally handed down over the years/centuries.  Some have learned a specific artists palette and teach through that.  This color theory I show is a combination of a color technique perfected by Albert Munsell and altered by Sorolla’s theories by one of my former mentors, Sebastian Capella and then reinforced by Johannes Itten’s Color Theory.  Like I have done with figure drawing, I have taken several systems and distilled the system down into common traits, unique functions, and discarded the extraneous. 

So with these two formulas above, we can go on to finding color and how it works. 
One more thing you should know.  Without the understanding of the chemistry behind your paints, there will be a misunderstanding of mixing colors as some metals and organic stuff do not mix well, resulting in mud, or a dull version of what you thought would be something more vibrant or saturated.   Read the labels, have a copy of
The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques: Fifth Edition, Revised and Updated (Reference) by Ralph MayerThis book is a must have if you are investing in a career in art and will have a space to work in.  Knowing how your materials function and what they are made of is a must know for every artist regardless of whether you are self trained or studio trained.  Make sure you have a solid working knowledge of your materials; it will save your life, and preserve your work for a long time.

So far we have learned to identify the color of the light source.  Next we look at what or whom we are going to paint.  This helps us with identifying the kind of palette we might need to accommodate for all the colors to be mixed.  More specifically it helps us pick part of the palette for the local colors of the objects.  

From all of this banter we can identify a few things about the palette.
 1.  We need a tinter and a toner of sorts.  Some artists will tell you that no black is necessary on the palette.  The primary reason black is not added is because of the way it dries matte to everything else having some kind of sheen to it, the sheen being produced from the oils in the paints or the oils added to the paints.  TOOL/RULE:  To make black work effectively, always mix a color into it to help dilute it.
 2.  We need to know the color of the light source to include a color set to accommodate for its influence on all the local color(s) and for the indirect light source and its color(s).
 3.  We need colors that will help the painter achieve a complete spectrum, or to help the painter paint within the local colors confined to his/her proximity of view.

As a professional painter, the guiding force is this:
 4.  I need colors that suit my mood and temperament to how I feel about me as a painter, the world and how I should perceive what I am about to paint and the subject that stirs my emotions.

So far, we are looking for the color of the light, and the color of the object.  A helpful hint for any unidentifiable color:  for the studying what we see before us, or naturalistic lighting/realistic lighting naturally displayed, identify the color by using temperature as a key we can identify anything to its root color or original hue.  This means finding within our setting or within the photographic space a clearly identifiable warm and cool color and comparing them to what you are trying to identify as a color to mix.  This might seem contradictory to thought at first, but it is a very useful way to pinpoint a mixture almost instantly when skillfully used.  I call this one of the key training wheels in studying color outside of the theoretical content we must intellectually understand.

Once a local color and once the light source has been color ID’d, these can be adjusted or modulated through the process of tinting and shading or graying/toning.  This can be done by adding pure gray scale tones or by any other formula, one of them being adding the color opposite, however anything outside of adding a tint or tone has the additional need for understanding which colors chemically we are mixing together to make a perfect mixture.  By adding any old blue to any old yellow will not always make a green, or make the green we need.

LAAFA Color Theory Day 1

Today the class has two objectives, the first is to learn how to separate the color of the light from the color of the object, the second objective is to learn how to identify the color of anything regardless of how earthen or garish it may appear.

Goal 1.  All objects are lit, regardless of how much or bright the lights may be.  A stadium casts multiple shadows, feint but still visible.   Each of these shadow spaces will be filled with the indirect light, in many cases the night sky.  A direct light source such as a spot light produces 1 shadow, again, whatever fills the rest of the space, either fluorescent light, natural light or incandescent light. The brighter the light, the stronger the contrast between the light and dark, or, the stronger the battle of color contrast between warm and cool and the direct spot light will usually win; the weaker the contrast, the greater the chances of the indirect light filling the shadows with more color, the color of the light source, in many cases indoors it will be fluorescent light and outdoors it will be the sky. 

Can you see the color of the light influencing the surfaces of the subject?  What color is the light source?  How much of that color do you mix to each local color to produce the effect of what you see?  What part of the global scape are you standing in and how much does the direct and indirect light source affect what you see as a result?
Light falls off in color bands much like how light drops off in a sunset.  As the sun rounds the planet, the color band raises and drops according to its oblique or perpendicular alignment with your eyes and the subject.

Skin is translucent   another problem with solving the color of skin when painting.

This color wheel is about identifying a pure hue from whatever grayed state it might be displayed.  All colors, grayed or other come from some root color or color hue.   This color wheel loosely suggests this through a series of percentages of gray added to the original hue, the gray the same value to the hue respectively.  And, the hues are delivered in a dynamic way, value related to one another as a value scale of color. 

So remember that the root or our theory starts with the Munsell system which means we identify color by its:
 1.  Hue  -  pure color state
2.  Value  -  its state of contrast to other color/values
3.  Chroma  -  its purity or dullness of saturation of the original hue

When looking at this color wheel, the inner wheel is pure hue, mixed to create a value ratio between colors.  The reason for this will be explained later.  As we roll out from the core ring, we gray the colors with a 25% amount of gray to 75% amount of color for the middle ring.  The outer ring is 75% gray and 25% color.  But regardless of the percentage of gray added, the mixtures always match the same value as the root color.  This is to keep the wheel constant for the Impressionists who learned this way to control the newly saturated hues that were available first time exclusively to them before they became mass manufactured for everyone.

This formula is derived from how the imressionists worked and spurred on modern formulas invented by Johannes Itten, a brilliant German Artist and Instructor within the Bauhaus movement.  And this will be explained further in later lessons.

The wheel will help an artist identify root colors, color values, color temperatures, and color harmonizations, all from an impressionist theory.

This color wheel is mixed from a formula given in a previous blog entry, but for immediate information the palette is as follows:

Titanium White
Cadmium Yellow Pale
Cadmium Yellow Orange
Cadmium Red Light
Alizarin Crimson
Red Rose Deep
Ultramarine Blue
Cerulean Blue
Viridian Green
Ivory Black

And the original Munsell palette also consisted of Yellow Ochre, Chromium Oxide Green, and Dioxinine Purple.  The dioxinine purple would work against the red rose deep, the yellow ochre against the yellow pale and the oxide green against the viridian green to form a perfect palette of color opposites within each hue of the color wheel, both primaries and secondary’s, the tertiaries are mixed.  This palette goes back to the 1930’s and disappeared from the University System in America during the late 1960’s – the late 1970’s, where it almost all but disappeared from the art curriculum entirely.  There were a few schools, private ateliers and studio instructors who still held on to this palette, and fortunately it was printed in book form as well.  Otherwise, the scientific approach to color would be totally trampled by personal palettes and ancient color systems that worked well for a time but do not connect with how we currently see things.