Seizing Possibilities

Seizing Possibilities
Seizing Possibilities

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Color-an element of art

In our life there is a single color as on an artist's palette which provides the meaning of life & art.  It is the color of love. Chagall

I have a love affair with color.

Color- our fifth and final element of art.   Color is more complicated to explain because it is so multi-dimensional.  I will do my best, but I could actually do an entire 5 weeks simply on color and it still wouldn't do it justice!  The first thing you must realize is that color IS light.  Scientifically, you can see this in a lab using a diffraction grating using different light sources; you can easily see the breakdown of color and what colors make up different light.  Scientifically there is much more about light to learn, much even I haven’t studied. From my perspective it is more important what I see and feel from it than the technicality of it anyway.  I just need to know enough to help me achieve the effects I want to achieve to accomplish my goals as an artist. But if you know one thing and that is light is color and color is light it will take you miles in your photography.  Technically, the color you see is a reflection of that color to your eye, the remaining light is absorbed and therefore unseen.  Light is a tricky and wonderful thing!  This is why lighting and light in photography is ever so important.

Let’s start with color for the artist.  The color wheel can explain so much, so my first suggestion if you have never heard of it, is to look at this color wheel. It is much easier to understand when you see it as I proceed.

You might be familiar with primary, secondary and tertiary colors, perhaps even congruous (analogous), complimentary, and monochromatic colors.  All of this is easier to understand with a color wheel in hand!  Primary colors consist of red (alizarin crimson) yellow (cadmium yellow) and blue (cyan) of which none can be mixed.  Secondary colors are those that can be mixed with the three primary colors, orange (red and yellow mixed) green (yellow and blue mixed) and purple (blue and red mixed.) Tertiary colors are mixed on the third level with one primary and one secondary color such as red orange, yellow orange, yellow green, blue green, blue purple, red purple.  Congruous (Analogous) colors are those found adjacent to each other on a color wheel, so we could say, blue green, green and yellow green are all congruent colors.  Complimentary colors are those found opposite each other on the color wheel hence, red and green, yellow and purple and blue and orange are complimentary to each other.  Monochromatic colors are tints and shades of a single color.  Black and white photography is monochromatic, well it would be if black or white were a color!  Black (shade) is actually the absorption of all light therefore lack of color and white (tint) is the reflection of all light and therefore all colors!  And brown, well, that is a mix of all three primary colors.  Have I sufficiently confused you yet?  Think about what each of these might mean though, just the simple use of the words that label each category or how it falls on the color wheel.

Think about these photographs. They are all photographs of sunrises but the colors in each evoke a different sort of mood or feeling in each one.

How do they make you feel? 

What feelings do they evoke from you? 

The feelings or moods you gather from these are what bring the unique interaction that I, as the photographer/artist hope it might bring for you, an interaction that causes an evocative moment between the art and the viewer.

The meanings of colors are NOT a science, nor do psychologists completely agreed upon their meanings in terms of how it makes someone feel or what it may symbolize.  Of course in certain cultures certain colors do have specific meanings, but I just want you to explore how it makes YOU feel?  What does each color mean to you?  What do they evoke, do they make you feel pleasant and happy, sad and gloomy, do they spur you to action, or how does it all come together for you and your vision?  What about different color combinations? Is black and white better for you to convey what you want to say in your work?

I LOVE color, to me it is the most important aspect of my vision and work, both in my photography and my drawings and paintings.  My favorite artist is Monet who studied color and light and how it affected color.  I love the series he did of so many things at different times of day and in different weather conditions. If you were to study Monet’s haystack series you would learn a lot about the light of day and how it plays on subjects, just by looking at his paintings and the times and seasons he painted them.  It is all inspiring and luscious to me.  For that matter all the impressionists were masters of color and you can study any one of them and learn a lot about color, it would definitely be a worthwhile study if you want color to take a primary role in your vision.  It would also be well worth it for you to do a study and do a project of your own taking photographs of the same subject at different times of day and in different weather conditions to see how light affects color in your frame and through your lens. 

Color and value especially help to create the "mood" or "feel" of a piece of art or photograph and is what makes something drab and uninspiring into the realm of wonder.

Today's albums with photographs with the element of color are found on Flickr and FaceBook!

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