I have a hard time choosing colors because I like so many and then it becomes frustrating. I decided to get "back to the basics" and review my color theory. I took color theory in college and I forgot what a great class that was. Color theory is a practical guide to mixing color and the visual impact of specific color combinations. It really is a practical thing to understand when creating a piece of art, painting a piece of furniture and working on interiors. Anyone can use color theory!
This is the start of a series designed to review color theory and how to use it in everyday life. I hope it helps you as much as it is helping me understand again the value of color.
The Foundation of Color Theory:
Color theory is first noted in the 1400's in artist's notebooks, such as Leonardo DaVinci and Alberti. It didn't become "theory" until Issac Newton's controversial theory of color was released in 1704, called "Optiks"with content covering the nature of so-called primary colors (considered one of the greatest works in science history).
Color theory was originally formulated in terms of three "primary" or "primitive" colors—red, yellow and blue—because these colors were believed capable of mixing all other colors. This color mixing behavior had long been known to printers, dyers and painters, but these trades preferred pure pigments to primary color mixtures, because the mixtures were too dull (unsaturated).
Today, we use the four color process called CMYK- cyan, magenta, yellow and black (key). This is the primary way for printer's to know what colors are being called for in a design. There is a percentage of each color that is called for in each design so it is an exact match. A wider range of color can be obtained with the addition of other colors to the printing process, such as in Pantone's color matching printing ink system (six colors), among others. Pantone is the gold standard for color matching perfection.
Color is more complex today because of the advancement in technology. Computer screens to paper to fabric to paint do not match exactly color due to the variance of material. For example, what is blue on the screen of a computer might really be more purple on paper. These applications are areas of intensive research, much of it proprietary and artistic color theory has little to say about these complex new opportunities.
There is a lot on the history of color theory and I could write for days on it. This is the condensed version only. It is a good starting point for understanding the value of color theory in the industry. Whew! Now my brain is tired from all that history... Time to go create!
Next Thursday: Color Theory 101: The Color Wheel