Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Back to Basics: Color Theory 101: The Color Wheel
The color wheel or color circle was was invented by Sir Isaac Newton. He split white sunlight into red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, and blue beams; then he joined the two ends of the color spectrum together to show the natural progression of colors. Newton associated each color with a note of a musical scale.
The current form of color theory was developed by Johannes Itten, a Swiss color and art theorist who was teaching at the School of Applied Arts in Weimar, Germany. This school is also known as 'Bauhaus'. Johannes Itten developed 'color chords' and modified the color wheel. Itten's color wheel is based on red, yellow, and blue colors as the primary triad and includes twelve hues.
The arrangement of colors around the color circle is often considered to be in correspondence with the wavelengths of light, as opposed to hues, in accord with the original color circle of Isaac Newton. Modern color circles include the purples, however, between red and violet.
Here are some helpful terms when using color:
Hue: Refers to the color itself. Each different hue is a different reflected wavelength of light.
Value: Refers to the lightness or darkness of the hue. Adding white to a hue produces a high-value color, often called a tint. Adding black to a hue produces a low-value color, often called a shade.
Intensity: Also called chroma or saturation, refers to the brightness of a color.A color is at full intensity when not mixed with black or white - a pure hue. You can change the intensity of a color, making it more neutral by adding gray to the color. You can also change the intensity of a color by adding its complement (this is the color found directly opposite on the traditional color wheel). When changing colors this way, the color produced is called a tone.
Shade: A color mixed with black.
Tint: A color mixed with white. It can also refer to the shift in hue when one color is added to another, for example red tints yellow towards orange. See also shade.
Primary Colors:(Red, yellow and blue) In traditional color theory, these are the 3 pigment colors that can not be mixed or formed by any combination of other colors. All other colors are derived from these 3 hues.
Secondary Colors: (Green,orange and purple)These are the colors formed by mixing the primary colors.
Tertiary Colors:(Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green and yellow-green) These are the colors formed by mixing a primary and a secondary color. That's why the hue is a two word name, such as blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange.
Next week: Creating Color Harmony. ( We will use some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Examples!)