Elements of Art: Color | KQED Arts


[ MID-TEMPO DRUM BEAT PLAYS ] [ MID-TEMPO MUSIC PLAYS ] Narrator:
A LOT OF REPRESENTATIONAL ART ATTEMPTS TO PORTRAY THE WORLD
REALISTICALLY BY MIMICKING
THREE-DIMENSIONAL SPACE AND ATTEMPTING TO
FAITHFULLY RENDER OBJECTS AS WE SEE THEM. HOWEVER, MANY ARTISTS EMBRACE
A DIFFERENT REALITY. SO-CALLED COLOR FIELD PAINTERS
OF THE 1950s AND ’60s WANTED TO REINFORCE THE IDEA
THAT THE PAINTED CANVAS IS A FLAT,
TWO-DIMENSIONAL SPACE. THEY MADE ENORMOUS,
LARGE-SCALE PAINTINGS THAT WERE OFTEN COMPRISED
OF JUST ONE OR TWO COLORS. THEIR ART DIDN’T REPRESENT
THE OUTSIDE WORLD OR TRY TO TAKE YOU
TO ANOTHER PLACE. IT REINFORCED THE FACT THAT
YOU’RE LOOKING AT A PAINTING. THE BOLD,
BRIGHT COLORS THEY USED WEREN’T MEANT TO REPRESENT
ANYTHING ELSE. FOR THEM AND THE MANY ARTISTS
THEY INSPIRED, COLOR IS A BEAUTIFUL
AND WORTHY SUBJECT ALL ITS OWN. COLOR IS ONE OF THE SEVEN ELEMENTS OF ART, ALONG WITH LINE, SHAPE, FORM, TEXTURE, VALUE, AND SPACE. WHEN LIGHT HITS AN OBJECT, SOME OF IT IS ABSORBED
AND SOME OF IT IS REFLECTED, DEPENDING ON THE MATERIALS
THE OBJECT IS MADE OF. THE LIGHT THAT IS REFLECTED
OFF OF THE OBJECT IS WHAT WE SEE
AS AN OBJECT’S COLOR. RED, YELLOW, AND BLUE
ARE CALLED PRIMARY COLORS BECAUSE THEY CANNOT BE MADE
FROM THE MIXING OF OTHER COLORS. HOWEVER,
THE THREE PRIMARY COLORS CAN BE MIXED TOGETHER
TO PRODUCE NEARLY EVERY OTHER HUE
IMAGINABLE. GREEN, ORANGE, AND VIOLET
ARE THE THREE SECONDARY COLORS. THEY ARE CREATED BY MIXING TWO
OF THE PRIMARY COLORS TOGETHER IN EQUAL AMOUNTS. WHEN YOU MIX A PRIMARY COLOR
WITH A SECONDARY COLOR, YOU GET A TERTIARY COLOR, SUCH AS RED-ORANGE,
BLUE-GREEN. EVERY INDIVIDUAL COLOR
CAN BE ALTERED BY CHANGING ITS VALUE THROUGH TINTING, SHADING,
AND TONING. TINT IS SIMPLY ANY COLOR
WITH WHITE ADDED TO IT, SO RED BECOMES PINK,
BLUE BECOMES LIGHT BLUE, GREEN BECOMES LIGHT GREEN,
AND SO ON. A SHADE THEN IS CREATED
BY ADDING BLACK TO ANY COLOR. ADDING BLACK AND WHITE
TO A COLOR PRODUCES A TONE. SOMETIMES A WORK OF ART
WILL BE MADE UP OF THE TINTS, SHADES,
AND TONES OF ONLY ONE COLOR. THIS IS WHAT WE CALL
A MONOCHROMATIC COLOR SCHEME. ONE WAY ARTISTS
PERSONALIZE THEIR WORK IS BY CREATING
THEIR OWN VERY UNIQUE COLORS, TINTS, SHADES, AND TONES. NOTICE HOW THE VIOLET COLORS
IN THIS PRINT BY ANISH KAPOOR DIFFER FROM THE ONES
USED BY PAINTER MORRIS LOUIS. IS THERE ONE THAT HAS MORE TINTING OR SHADING
THAN ANOTHER? WHAT DO YOU THINK
IS CREATING THE DIFFERENCE? ONE COMMON WAY
PEOPLE CATEGORIZE COLORS IS BY TEMPERATURE. REDS, ORANGES, AND YELLOWS
ARE REFERRED TO AS WARM BECAUSE THEY CAN BE
EASILY ASSOCIATED WITH A WARM, SUNNY DAY. BLUES, VIOLETS, AND GREENS,
ON THE OTHER HAND, ARE CALLED COOL
BECAUSE THEY OFTEN COME TO MIND WHEN THINKING ABOUT
OVERCAST OR RAINY DAYS. WHEN COOL AND WARM COLORS ARE
MIXED TOGETHER IN A PAINTING, WHAT IS THE OVERALL MOOD
OR FEELING THEN? BESIDES THE WEATHER,
THERE ARE MANY OTHER ASSOCIATIONS AND FEELINGS
THAT COLORS CAN SUMMON. IS THERE A COLOR
OR COMBINATION OF COLORS THAT TRIGGERS A SPECIFIC MEMORY
OR THOUGHT IN YOU? UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTS
COLORS HAVE ON YOU WILL HELP YOU READ AN ARTWORK AND DEVELOP YOUR OWN
INTERPRETATION OF IT. AND WHEN MAKING
YOUR OWN ARTWORK, KNOWING THE EFFECT COLORS HAVE
WILL HELP YOU CONTROL THE MESSAGES
YOU HOPE TO CONVEY.

Dereck Turner

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