View Full Version : Color Theory and COLOR REALITY

cobalt fingers
01-02-2002, 05:36 PM
There are many realities about color that might be more helpful to artists than theories...I understand the word and don't mean to be petty. But I've found if you know you can plainly say what you mean specifically regarding all aspects of painting. I've found college classes to be the worst to verbalize around real and good questions by serious students.

This need never be the case!

01-02-2002, 05:42 PM
I agree, Tim. Sometimes we all get wrapped up in the technical side of everything and forget that our true senses can tell us so much more....after all that is why we are painters in the first place. It's just so much fun to show someone color than to dig into the science of it all. :)

Wonderful painting, by the way. Welcome to WetCanvas! Jump in and share anytime.

cobalt fingers
01-02-2002, 08:19 PM
Thanks -I will try to figure out whats what before posting nything else...I'm getting some scolding from some...this such a big site, I'm posting and getting mail re's and comments from about 6 moderators some are pretty put out it seems.

01-02-2002, 08:43 PM

Be assured that it's not just you. :) Here lately there has been a rash of other art related business ventures posting information about their websites and encouraging attendance. All of the moderators have been tense over these because it creates confusion. Leaving business information in itself if not a problem because all of us are artists and many of us are in the business to sell our work, but when it is in every post, it gets to be what we call spam.

You will notice that many of us have our website information listed in our profiles and some in our signatures. This again is a great way to let everyone know that you are serious about your business, but at the same time keep the boards focused on what they really are about.

As I told you, I've moved one of your invitations over to the Art Business Professional News forum. It will stay there and you can check every so often to see if anyone has asked a question. Also, just for making things easier, you can go to that post and find the link at the bottom of the thread that says something like "subscribe to this thread". Then if anyone leaves you a message you will automatically be notified via email. How neat!

Again, Welcome to WetCanvas! I know with your knowledge you can help us so much and I'm looking forward to seeing your work and your input.

01-02-2002, 09:13 PM
Nice to see your wonderful artwork here at WetCanvas. It's me...carly
from Art Anonymous! I couldn't agree more with you about color theory and color reality....but that be because I've had no "color theory" taught to me either. When I paint it all has to be from reality!

01-03-2002, 08:16 AM
Hi Carly,
I'm curious. What is Art Anonymous?

01-05-2002, 07:49 PM
First off great painting, really nicely handled in terms of colour and technique.

The two concepts, colour theory and colour reality, do not necessarily have to be divorced from each other. They very frequently are, the basic 'red plus blue equals purple' is a good example and one that comes to mind all too readily, however this rather undermines the good name of theories since some are quite a bit more practically applicable than this. :)

One of the problems with discussing colour theory, indeed with many (most?) aspects of the craft, is the classic one of talking v. doing - on more than one occasion I have realised when trying to explain the finer points of something online that what takes 500 words would take only a few moments if the person was beside me and I could just show them! You are quite obviously an accomplished painter with, I would wager, many years of hard work - practice doing - behind you. During that time you have probably been exposed to various ideas and theories, tried some of them, plus your own experiments, and slowly moved towards your current understanding (probably intuitive at this stage) of what to do in a given pictorial situation. But what you might be forgetting is that for the beginner, and I clearly remember this in myself, who has essentially no knowledge of how to do anything they are often at a loss how to relate a practical problem, no matter how simple, to the materials at hand, "How do I mix this colour using these paints?" In the same vein many amateurs/hobbyists, by their very nature paint infrequently and may have no background other than what they may have learned in school. Because of this they might not know how to approach a problem to work to a solution, much less the solution itself - the difference between knowing the answer and knowing how to find the answer. Taken with the fact that in many circumstances the answer to the above question might be, "you can't!" it accounts for a lot of the confusion in art classes in my experience!

What a good colour theory gives one is the tools to find the answer, which is why I think colour-bias theory is the basis of the best, certainly the simplest, practical approach with the broadest application. For a start it explains the essentials of what actually happens in the paint film, something that most theories frankly mis-state or at the very least ignore, which I think is so easy to conceptualise that one can't help but become more adept at predicting mixing outcomes even without a lot of practical experiments.

So while talking about a concept is a poor substitute for actually showing, in the case of any forum of this nature it is what we have to work with and while I would be the first to admit that it is easy, in some circumstances unavoidable, to get bogged down in technical and seemingly irrelevant theory, once it becomes assimilated (i.e. accepted or ignored :D) they can move past it and just get down to the joy of painting what they want without having to overthink it all, which for most of us I imagine is a goal either achieved or sought.

Feeling very philosophical ;)

cobalt fingers
01-06-2002, 11:10 PM
Wow what a great reply!

I note what your saying. I just got blasted for talking "to everyone on the site" as if WE were beginners. I like to talk about deep complex matters but I'm finding hostility ( of others than yourself ) really more than I care to bear. Your words were rich and helpful the kind this format needs.:clap:

01-07-2002, 10:28 AM
Glad to have you here!!! I have been drawing and painting for about 60 years (started when I was 5!) and I start just about everyday feeling like a beginner!!! So much to learn, so little time! So glad to have someone as knowledgeable as you with us!!! Also, caught your post on Golden Mean Thread, thanks!
Gotta get to the drawing board, got a Saturday deadline for four of my drawings and start teaching new class next Monday!!!

PS Also love the quote you put on by Robert Henri; love his book "The Art Spirit".:clap:


01-07-2002, 09:30 PM
Hi there, Tim, and yes, welcome!

I don't think you're finding hostility at all. This community is a big one, and the personalities here range from aspiring young student to grizzled old master. The Internet is a great tool, but at the end of the day, that is all it is - just a tool. It can't convey emotion, or true intent. Often, the message that someone is trying to deliver comes across the wrong way, completely inadvertently.

Give this place a shot - you'll be surprised. :)

BTW, you'll likely find many takers here for serious color theory discussions.


01-08-2002, 10:54 PM
Originally posted by cobalt fingers
There are many realities about color that might be more helpful to artists than theories...

and how might that apply to the painting?

btw,,,nice painting. has the image been cropped?

if not, you have made a unique choice. the best of the images you've posted. very intimate,,,compositionally. i like your muted color. nice choice of blue vs pink in the neutral palette....{M}

cobalt fingers
01-09-2002, 03:54 PM
Firstly Bruin, I wish it were not cropped (it is( cause I like it better this way...the original painted 7 or 8 years ago is less interesting and more safe.

I think the replies have been learned , helpful, and educational-we all have blind spots, Thanks to Einion wise words

01-09-2002, 05:02 PM
As a student with one beginning painting class done (and many more to go...) the color REALITY for me has been to read about color and do experiments on my own.

The more I read here at WC the more I think my first class wasn't such a good one. The instructor didn't even discuss color theory/basics. When I asked about this she said she didn't want to influence us too much and wanted us to develop our "own palette." I developed one all right-every color in my art bin!
I made some really bad (mud, mud, and MORE mud) still lifes-it wasn't until I got Parramon's book on color did I realize that I only needed a few colors-and that painting with every single color I own (on the same canvas!) is a definite no-no.

The theories are necessary, but getting out the brushes and experimenting seems to be the best way to go....

Painted Melody
01-09-2002, 05:13 PM
Originally posted by artlover

The more I read here at WC the more I think my first class wasn't such a good one. The instructor didn't even discuss color theory/basics. When I asked about this she said she didn't want to influence us too much and wanted us to develop our "own palette."

As someone who just finished my first Painting "course" I can relate well... It felt as if the instructor left us alone like stray dogs, painting what we "feel" and he'll throw back a few plus and minus comments... It was less instructional and more free-will -- which did not benefit me or the others at all, I can understand this type of environment for experienced painters, but I paid a lot of money to learn about the fundamentals...I have learned more about painting here at WC than at school... My teacher is a lovely man, and a good painter, but not a smart teacher...


cobalt fingers
01-12-2002, 05:13 PM
I understand and agree with the last 2 posts. Many of my professional friends have fine art degrees from universities earned from 1955-1995. To a person, they say apart from the parties and vocabulary the years were wasted. All they learned they learned by doing or by studying with someone they admired as an artist after getting the degree.

I've been in those classes where the teacher says to those questions about color with , "oh just express yourself -it will be more your own statement!" Can you imagine a music teacher answering a violon student like that? The issue is about learning to communicate visually. Teachers are not there to tell you what to say but should acquaint you with the language. You then can make any statement any old way you want! Knowledge is good for us all-ALL knowledge. Just because you learn to paint tightly does not preclude you from painting loosely, indeed most easel painters progress toward looser more expressive work through the years.

Teachers of art are just like everyone else -only more so:D there are all kinds out there...