The Alphabet of Art

Color


Type Contrast Resulting Attributes
Hue (Color) - -
Primary Maximum Emotionally Active
Esthetically dynamic
Spatially in depth
Secondary Minimum Emotionally passive
Esthetically decorative
Spatially static
Choma (Intensity) - -
Strong Maximum Emotionally Active
Esthetically dynamic
Spatially in depth
Weak Minimum Emotionally passive
Esthetically decorative
Spatially static
Value - -
Light, Dark, Bright Maximum Emotionally Active
Esthetically dynamic
Spatially in depth
Gray or Dull Minimum Emotionally passive
Esthetically decorative
Spatially static

It was not until 1905 that Albert H. Munsell delineated the three components of color so that it could be treated in a scientific manner. Hue is the name of the color: red, blue, etc. Chroma is the amount of intensity in a color, whether it is intensely strong, intensely weak, or somewhere in between. And Value is the brightness or dullness of a color, the amount of light in the color.

Munsell's analysis of the components of color made it possible to produce colors of the same value and intensity. He developed charts and graphs which were scientific and permitted color to be reproduced exactly the same anywhere. For instance, painters who wanted a decorative sign could paint all of the colors at the same value or intensity by using a scientific formula.

Not many artists have mastered the science of color. An exception, remarkable because it was the use of color on a three-dimensional object, was the Egyptian who sculpted the Head of Nephretiti. Another sculptor who seems to have mastered color is Marisol Escabar, who had the good fortune to study with the German master of color, Hans Hoffman.

Temperature can also be considered an aspect of color. There are warm colors: reds, oranges, yellows, and cool colors such as blues and greens.

There has also been some study of the way color affects how people feel and how the retina of the eye reacts to color. An application of this is the fact that doctors wear green in the operating room to rest their eyes from red. This has to do with the way the retina reacts to those two colors. Hospitals sometimes put depressed people in warm-colored rooms to make them feel less depressed, and overstimulated people in cool-colored rooms to aid in quieting them down.


Choose a topic to read more about the Alphabet:
Line Line Direction Shape Size
Texture Value Color Composition
The Attributes The Picture Plane

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