Color: Coming to (the) Terms

Color: Coming to (the) Terms

Hue: The “color of a color”. Hue is what we usually mean when we ask “what color is that?” Hue is the term for the pure spectrum colors commonly referred to by the “color names, such as red, yellow and blue. Different hues are caused by different wavelengths of light.

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Primary Colors: (Paint colors) Red, Blue, Yellow: the colors which cannot be mixed or created through combinations of other colors.

Secondary Colors: Mixtures of the primary colors: Purple, Orange, Green

Tertiary Colors: Mixtures of a primary and secondary color which are next to each other on the color wheel:: yellow-green, yellow- orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-green, blue-violet (For our purposes, we are using purple and violet to mean the same thing).

Complementary Colors: Colors which are opposite or across from each other on the color wheel. Combining complimentary colors can produce “neutral” browns and grays. . The complimentary pairs are made up of one primary and one secondary color: blue and orange, yellow and purple, and red and green are complimentary pairs.

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Saturation: Also known as “intensity,” saturation describes the strength of a color with respect to its value or lightness. Related to chromaticity, saturation tells us how a color looks under certain lighting conditions. A room painted a solid color will appear different at night than in daylight.Think about Saturation in terms of pale or weak and pure or strong, NOT light or dark.

In mixing colors hues can be desaturated (reduced in purity, weakened) in one of three ways: mix with white to lighten the value (tint), mix with black to darken the value (shade), or mix with gray or the complement to either lighten or darken the value ( tone).

Intensity: The terms Purity, Intensity, Saturation and Chroma are often used interchangeably when discussing color.

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Value: Lightness or darkness of a color, When we describe a color as “light” or “dark”, we are discussing its value. This property of color tells us how light or dark a color is based on how close it is to white. For instance, yellow would be considered lighter than navy blue which in turn is lighter than black.

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Tints: A color with white added to it.

Shades: A color with black added to it.

Tones: A color with gray added to it.

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Color Blossoms: Pink

Color Blossoms: Pink

Well, strike me…pink!

WEBfleur3Putting the blossom back in blossom,,,these rich  blooms run from red to pink to purple.

webxThis blushing beauty is the essence of the pale pink rose. Wedding, anyone?

weboMysterious pink, verging on the purple.

Struck dumb by this pink beauty…webg1

webgAlmost red.

webnDeep pink, fading to the center…beautiful markings.

WEBfleur2Well, by rights, pink is “light” red. A tint of red…or, red with white added.

webwOur blushing beauty further on in her life cycle.

weby1The  joy of lushness.

What does “pink” mean to You?

What does pink “taste” like?

What is Your favorite hue of pink?

May You always be…”in the pink”!

Channeling Faber Birren

Channeling Faber Birren

Color expert Faber Birren was “a color consultant who read and analyzed tastes in the hues deemed most suitable for one’s surroundings”, as stated by his 1988 New York Times obituary. “Mr. Birren firmly believed in the therapeutic effects of bright colors on the mentally troubled. He also stressed that taste in colors, although occurring in fashionable cycles, was highly personal, with no two people responding the same way.”

Stumbling upon a nifty little book of Mr. Birren’s titled aptly, “Principals of Color“, I delved into the intricacies of tint, tone and shade.

Thinking I already knew quite a bit about what these terms meant, I was  intrigued to find that according to Birren, I still had  a way to go.

Birren divides up “color” into  three “forms”:  Hue (pure color), White, and Black.  True, I thought.  The combinations of these (and there are only four) create four secondary “forms”.  White +  Black = Gray.  Hue +  White = Tint.  Hue + Black =  Shade.  Hue + Black +White = Tone.

Wow, thought I…so true.  I had never considered it that way before. So caught up in the doing, the creating, mixing, playing with and achieving of colors…I had not deeply, deeply yet considered, the seven forms: Hue, White,  Black, Tint, Tone, Shade, Gray.

Apparently, as well, our eyes and brains will sort out, or simplify the huge range of existing color, IE, color wavelengths, (color is an effect of light wavelengths ) into a relative few.

In the words of Faber Birren, “It is thus philosophic, if not scientific, to conclude that the human sense of color doesn’t want to be bothered with the details.”    How human indeed!

It seems that we are actually, “dumbing down” the spectrum of colors that actually exist!

My colleague and associate, Rebecca E. Parsons of Cre8tive Compass Magazine, and Artistically Speaking Talk Show fame, shared a most fascinating story the last time we spoke on her blog talk radio show when I visited as the “Color Muze”.

She recounted that during a summer storm, an electrical storm, I believe, she looked up in the sky, and saw a color that she had never seen before.  No, not a permutation of red, blue, yellow, green, purple or orange. Not a black, or a white.

A TOTALLY DIFFERENT color that she had ever perceived, or laid eyes upon before…the closest she could get to describing it was that it might be said to be a “cooler” color.

Wow.

I have tried to research such a phenomenon,  but so far, have not come up with any information on spectral colors that most or all of us normally cannot see, but, that some can, or colors that can be seen only at certain times, and under certain conditions.

It just blows the mind!

I wonder what Faber Birren would have to say about such an experience?

Maybe, as I plough through research or stumble again upon information that might illuminate this mystery, I may find out!

Until then, I will have to live with its shadow of the mystery…or possibly, its light!

Have any of YOU ever heard about, or experienced such a thing?   Seeing “beyond”  the  color spectrum that most of us normally see within?

If so, please share about it with us here.

We Love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all coloring our way through this thing called Life, together.

Featured Work: “Mid-Century Retro”: Starburst, Atom or Tinker Toy?

Featured Work: “Mid-Century Retro”:   Starburst, Atom, or Tinkertoy?

When my Clients Ted and Mark expressed interest in a wall treatment for their guest room, they knew that whatever was done had to fit into the eclectic brand of “Mid-Century Retro” style they had developed throughout the rest of their home.

From their TV tables, to the artwork on the walls, to their shower curtain pattern, the colors, patterns, feel and sensibility of the interior design and objects recall the visual aesthetic of the 1950’s.

TV tabletop pattern

Touring their home, I observed earth colors re-imagined in plastic, textiles, dishware and furniture. Browns, yellows, beiges and ivorys were applied to patterns created by combining  repeated elements of line, shape and form.

Unadorned wall, a bit empty

Their sunny guest room needed adornment on the headboard wall , which captures attention upon entering the room. The wall color was already reflected in the pillows and bedding, and enhanced by the use of natural wood, pussywillow branches, and carefully selected artwork. Yet the wall felt bare.

Given the scale and function of the room, Ted and Mark were concerned about overwhelming it visually.  They wanted a treatment that would complement what existed, and add a sense of whimsy, depth, and dimension, without cluttering the space.

Ted, who had worked in graphic design, sketched out an image of  a “starburst”  which brought to mind molecular structure, resonating with their mid-century design sensibility.

TInkertoys? No, Molecular Structure

Or, to get more complicated, Tetrahedral Molecular Geometry.

Jack? No, Tetrahedral Molecular Geometry

I created a modular (molecular?) stencil based on his design, and cut the “line” and “circle” elements in a variety of sizes to mix and match, and create the visual impact we sought.

Ethereal Molecular

Assemblages of repeated parts, (lines and circles), were given depth and form through the addition of highlights and shadows, created with tints (white added) and shades (black added) of the wall color.

Line and circles were “built” into larger shapes and designs, just like some of us once built with tinker toys

The resulting treatment is reminiscent of designs and patterns that emerged with advent of the “Atomic Age”, and became integral to “Mid-Century” style. A nexus of science and design, perhaps so familiar to us now, that we may be barely cognizant of its origins.

Mirror Image Module Multiplies

Mirrors expand the space and subtle visual impact of the treatment. Values of light and dark add dimensionality and a soft “pop” to the shapes, which seem to do an dream-like, molecular dance across the wall.  Although it was not easy to articulate, this is the effect and feeling the Clients were looking for.

“The subtle starburst pattern enlivens our mid-century look. Our houseguests love the playfulness it contributes to the room.” – Ted and Mark, San Francisco, Ca.   August 2010

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