The Art of Color
Color harmony | Developing a visual relationship and structure between colors that are capable of serving as a basis for composition and revealing content.
Colored light reﬂected from colored objects modiﬁes the colors of other objects.
William Eggleston Joel Sternfeld Paul Graham
Paintings by Mark Rothko
Color Altered or Varied in 5 Modes
name and properties/mixture of a color that enables it to be perceived.
how light or dark a color is.
the level and mixture of white, black, grey or complimentary included in color.
proportions of color
shifting of colors to their complementary
Color Agent and Color Effect
Color Agent is the physically or deﬁnable colorant.
Color Effect is the psychophysiological color reality.
On a white background, On a black background,
the yellow square looks darker the yellow square acquires
and warmer. extreme brilliance and is cooler.
On white, the red square looks On black, the red square radiates
darker . warmth.
On a black background,
On a white background,
the blue square acquires
the blue square looks darker
extreme brilliance with deep
and suggests depth.
luminescence of hue.
Color is not only experienced and understood visually, but also psychologically and emotionally
Gregory Crewdson Philip Lorca diCorcia
12 Hue Color Circle
• Yellow is the color of sunshine. It's associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy. Yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and
generates muscle energy.
• Shades of yellow (when gray is added) are visually unappealing because they lose cheerfulness and become dingy.
• Dull (dingy) yellow represents caution, decay, sickness, and jealousy.
• Light yellow is associated with intellect, freshness, and joy.
Philip Lorca diCorcia Nan Goldin
• Red is the color of ﬁre and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love.
• Light red represents joy, sexuality, passion, sensitivity, and love.
• Pink signiﬁes romance, love, and friendship. It denotes feminine qualities and passiveness.
• Dark red is associated with vigor, willpower, rage, anger, leadership, courage, longing, malice, and wrath.
• Brown suggests stability and denotes masculine qualities.
• Reddish-brown is associated with harvest and fall.
Philip Lorca diCorcia
William Eggleston William Eggleston
• Passive from the point of view of material space. Always cool and shadowy. Atmospheric.
• Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, conﬁdence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.
• When dimmed, blue suggests fear, grief, and perdition.
• Light blue is associated with health, healing, tranquility, understanding, and softness.
• Dark blue represents knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness.
Richard Misrach Alec Soth
• Intermediate between yellow and blue. Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety.
• If the green inclines towards yellow, an energetic sense of nature is felt. Activated by orange, it assumes vulgar cast. If it inclines towards blue, cold and vigorous aggressiveness.
• Dark green is associated with ambition, greed, jealousy and is also commonly associated with money.
• Yellow-green can indicate sickness, cowardice, discord, and jealousy.
• Aqua is associated with emotional healing and protection.
• Olive green is the traditional color of peace.
• Mixture of yellow and red. Maximum radiant activity and solar luminosity. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity,
determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation. Orange is the color of fall and harvest. In heraldry, orange is symbolic of strength and endurance.
• Suggests a range from festive to when whitened, a loss of character. When diluted with black, declines into dull and withered brown. By lightening the brown, beige tones achieved suggesting
warmth and quiet atmospheric quality.
• Dark orange can mean deceit and distrust.
• Red-orange corresponds to desire, sexual passion, pleasure, domination, aggression, and thirst for action.
• Gold evokes the feeling of prestige. The meaning of gold is illumination, wisdom, and wealth. Gold often symbolizes high quality.
• Violet combines the stability of blue and the energy of red and is associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. It conveys wealth and extravagance.
• Violet is associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic as well as chaos, death and exaltation.
• Solitude and dedication in blue-violet. Divine love and spirituality in red-violet.
• Light violet evokes romantic and nostalgic feelings.
• Dark violet evokes gloom and sad feelings. It can cause frustration.
Christian Patterson Mitch Epstein
Seven Color Contrasts
1. Contrast of Hue
2. Light - Dark Contrast
3. Cold - Warm Contrast
4. Complementary Contrast
5. Simultaneous Contrast
6. Contrast of Saturation
7. Contrast of Extension
William Eggleston Henry Wessel
Contrast of Hue
• At least three (3) clearly differentiated hues are necessary.
• Some obvious combinations include:
red yellow blue green red violet
red blue green blue green orange
blue yellow violet orange yellow red
Light - Dark Contrast
• Strongest expressions of light and dark are the colors white and black.
• The effects of of black and white are in all respects opposite, with the realm of of grays and chromatic colors between them.
• Difference between level of brilliance and illumination. Obscured v. Revealed.
• Yellow and Violet have the strongest light - dark contrast.
Cold - Warm Contrast
• Contrast that is both physical and psychological.
• Red - orange represents is at the warmest range of colors, while blue - green is at the coolest.
• Cold - Warm properties can be described as: shadow / sun ; transparent / opaque ; sedative / stimulant ; airy / earthy ; far / near ; wet / dry.
Cold Colors Warm Colors
• Two colors are called “complementary” when mixed together they produce a neutral gray. Complementary colors are opposite each other on the Color Wheel.
• Analogous colors are any three colors which are side by side on a 12 Hue Color Wheel.
• Some examples of complementary colors include:
Yellow | Violet Orange | Blue Red | Green
Christian Patterson William Eggleston William Christenberry
• Results from the fact that for any given color, the eye simultaneously requires the complementary color, and generates it spontaneously if it is not already present.
• The simultaneously generated complementary color occurs as a sensation in the eye of the beholder, and is not objectively present.
• It cannot be photographed.
Contrast of Saturation
• Relates to the degree of purity of a color.
• Contrast between pure, intense colors and dull, diluted colors.
• Pure colors may be diluted in four different ways:
1. Color diluted with white
2. Color diluted with black
3. Color diluted with gray
4. Color diluted by a mixture of corresponding complementary colors
Stephen Shore Stephen Shore
Contrast of Extension
• Involves the relative size of two or more areas of color. It is the contrast between large and small areas.
• Colors may be assembled in areas of any size, but the proportion between two or more colors may be said to be in balance or harmony so that no one of the colors is used
more prominently than the other.
Christian Patterson Martin Parr William Christenberry