View Full Version : Controlling the Viewer's attention with Color

12-03-2001, 11:54 AM
We all know the power of color. I thought it would be fun to put up some examples of using color to control the viewers attention. You know...something like a blue-green - green field with that Red-Red barn. You eye automatically goes to the Red-Red barn.... but if you want it to go somewhere else then you would gray down the barn and put a splash of red or another color where you wanted the real attention to be.

Here is one oil painting by Winslow Homer that uses Yellow as the attention graber.... as well as other techinques.... probably not the best example, so I'd like to see what everyone else can come up with off the top of your head. My thinking behind this one is that Homer could have easily switched the yellow coat and orange hat.... your eye would have still followed the yellow. What you think?

Phyllis Rennie
12-05-2001, 09:22 PM
Hi Llis. One of my favorite painters is Marilyn Simandle. She grabs your attention with color in the midst of greys.

I still have to learn to do that:rolleyes: I tend to make 'em all brightly colored.

12-05-2001, 10:36 PM
I agree, I really, really, really like Marilyn Simandle.... as a matter of fact... I am studying some of her work now. What a coincidence! AND... I'm getting one of her videos for Christmas. :)

Are you sure, absolutely sure, that you are not my lost twin? I think you must be. *smile*

Marilyn also has that painterly style I love so much. She really sings with her brush. The joy she can put into a still life is amazing.

I know what you mean about learning to use the full range that your colors can give you. I tend to go for the brilliant colors right off too...and when I do... all my colors try to sing at one time and all I hear is noise. *sigh*

I'm doing some color exercises that I think will help me learn to use the grayed down colors to make those "brilliant" colors really pop. I think my biggest problem is that I have been just relying on my instincts to guide me with my color selection, and most of the time with results that could be so much more if I had just taken the time to really think about what color would have been best. .... and of course, what value!

I'm working on a still life right now of some cream colored roses in a blue and white vase... and I am using an orange background. Last week it really looked good.... this morning I painted but some how I am not as happy with my days work. Perhaps I'll try again tomorrow and see how it goes. At any rate.... I feel I have already learned so much more about color the last couple of months than I have in all my years...... and all this because I finally decided to concentrate on one area .... Color... and see just how much I COULD understand. In other words.... LOL.... I'm hanging in this forum until I get it. LOL ... This could be years.

Phyllis Rennie
12-10-2001, 08:51 PM
Originally posted by llis

Are you sure, absolutely sure, that you are not my lost twin? I think you must be. *smile*

until I get it. LOL ... This could be years.

Well....let's see.......your mother and my mother were both mothers. That proves it!!! :rolleyes:

Sure it'll be years--accept that fact--as soon as you "get it" with one concept, another more advanced one will present you with another challenge. That's what makes painting such an adventure--you're always reaching a bit higher than you're currently able!

12-11-2001, 10:53 PM
Excellent Picture Illis, looks awesome these colors

12-12-2001, 06:54 AM
Ilis, Interesting thread. Probably the most attention grabbing painting, vis a vis color, I have ever seen is Vermeer's "Girl in a Red Hat". Although it is a very small painting, even in the great rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in last year's Vermeer exhibit, you cannot miss it. The red controls the whole painting and yet the face holds it's own.


Phyllis Rennie
12-15-2001, 10:02 PM
Great example, Renee!

12-15-2001, 10:46 PM
I agree, Renee. Great example! Isn't it amazing how much color can do! :D

12-17-2001, 07:39 PM
It is one of my very favorite exquisite paintings. I also love the painting called The Shop Girl. I saw it recently in Ocala Florida dn i was stunned by it's beauty.

12-17-2001, 09:41 PM
I did a search on the web for "The Shop Girl", but came up empty. Sure wish I could see that one too. Sounds exciting.

12-18-2001, 07:19 AM
Linda and Llis, I have a catalogue of Vermeer's paintings and I don't see a "Shop Girl" unless the title is incorrect or you are referring to a different painter.

Now, you have me curious and I'd like to see the painting too. What does "The Shop Girl" look like?

You know Vermeer also painted The Astronomer and The Geographer, two wonderful paintings of men with the light entering from the left ( painted in his cramped dining room, you know, with all of his children running around while he painted- so I guess that leaves the rest of us, no excuses! :) ) but his paintings of women were his most famous.

My personal favorite is The Milkmaid.


12-18-2001, 07:49 AM
Yes, I love the milk maid too. http://www.cacr.caltech.edu/~roy/vermeer/djd.html

12-19-2001, 06:50 AM
Llis, Even in books the different printing techniques tend to present an image with overtones of a certain color. The web has the same problems. The link you provided shows strong overtones of yellow. The table surface and the wall behind the milkmaid is actually a cool grey, not a yellow.

I cc this image and hopefully in the transfer the colors will remain true.

The still life within the painting ( the objects on the table) is regarded as a masterpiece within itself. Much has been made of the highlights which are unparalled and it has been suggested that these effects are the results of the camera obscura that Vermeer is thought to have used. The optical effects are similiar to those resulting from that camera.

The heavy and superb impasto on the face lends to the feeling of sturdiness of the subject.


12-19-2001, 06:56 AM
PS: Detail from the Milkmaid.


12-19-2001, 07:28 AM
Yes! that's a much better image. When I looked at the link that I put up, I thought.... gosh that sure does look yellow and started to mention this. But, not ever really seeing this painting in person or having background to pull from.... I remained silent. So glad that you do and could add these images. They are wonderful (as web images go). Thanks!