the artist's notebook










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color theory

The other day, my husband brought home a group of art books from the "free" table in the middle school at which he works. They are wonderful picture books (don't we all love picture books?) about different types of impressionism, such as American, European, and Post impressionism. Each painting reproduction has a nice essay about that artist's life and working process. I noticed how often color theory was mentioned.

As you may know, I am self-taught. Or, as I like to say, "self inspired." Though the years, I have read about many color theories. To tell you the truth, they just bore me. Everyone sees color differently, depending on the color sensitivity that genetics gave them.

Everyone responds to color and color combinations differently, often influenced by the culture in which they grew up. If color is such an individual perception, then an artist should just paint what looks good to him/her.

Personally, I like bright colors. Usually, I put some neutrals in a painting to keep the work from looking garish. One of my favorite color combinations is orange and blue. I don't know why. I do remember that combination being the logo colors of the Howard Johnson restaurant chain in the 1960's. I liked that logo. Blue and orange are the principal colors in the early sky changes during a sunset. Who doesn't like a sunset?

On the traditional color wheel, blue and orange are opposite each other. Such opposite combinations, like yellow and purple or red and green, are supposedly pleasing to most people. But, I don't care about that. I use this color combination because it pleases me.