The Wheel of Color

The Wheel of Color

WEB9

Last week I had the pleasure of teaching a color mixing program for adults at a local library. The “mixed” results were wonderful, and it was thrilling to see the participants get creative with color and the color wheel.

We talked about the vocabulary of color, and I offered the students an overview of some of the most common color terms. Color is a very complex subject, and could be the subject of study over many lifetimes, so I tried to keep it simple and clear, yet informative.

 One of the most important terms is 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. But the relationship of light and color (color is actually an “effect” of light) is a subject for a different post!

WEB5

I also touched upon Chromaticity. This property of color tells us how pure a hue is. That means there is no white, black, or gray in a color that has high Chroma. Often referred to as “colorfulness,” Chroma is the amount of identifiable hue in a color. A color without hue is achromatic or monochromatic and will look gray.

As the students moved around and through the color wheel mixing colors, they discovered how the purity of  a hue effected what could be mixed from it. Some reds are a bit closer to blue, and some to orange. Some blues are closer to purple, and others to green. This effects the hue of the secondary colors can be mixed from these primary colors. Thus color mixing can become a real adventure, a challenge, stupendous fun, and always a voyage of discovery.

WEB2

Students experienced “saturation” of the colors they worked with. Saturation, also known as “Intensity”,  describes the strength of a color.  Related to chromaticity, saturation tells us how a color looks under certain lighting conditions. A room painted a solid color will look different at night than in daylight.Think about Saturation in terms of pale or weak and pure or strong, NOT light or dark. The terms Purity, Intensity, Saturation and Chroma are often used interchangeably when discussing color.

WEB3Mixing Color1 Video

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

WEB8Color Wheel Design Video

Students were given the three Primary Colors: (Paint colors) Red, Blue, Yellow to work with. These are the colors which cannot be mixed or created through combining other colors.

Color Mixing 2 Video

They created Secondary Colors, which are mixtures of each two of the primary colors: Purple (blue + red), Orange, (yellow + red),  Green (yellow + blue).

Color Mixing 3 Video

 We also explored Tertiary Colors which are mixtures of a primary and secondary color next to each other on the color wheel, and contain the names of those colors in their names! The Tertiary Colors are:  yellow-green, yellow- orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-green, and blue-violet. (For our purposes, we are using purple and violet interchangeably).

WEB7

WEB1

Students also learned about Value, or the lightness or darkness of a color. When we describe a color as “light” or “dark”, we are discussing its value . The property of Value 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. The value of a color is also is also related its brightness.

WEB4The Face of Color Video

One of the most endlessly  fascinating color relationships is that of  Complementary Colors, which are color pairs  opposite or across from each other on the color wheel. Combining complimentary colors can produce “neutral” browns and grays, as their combination effectively “cancels out” the color properties of Hue, Value and Saturation. The complimentary pairs are made up of one primary and one secondary color, which are directly opposite each other on the color wheel:  blue and orange, yellow and purple, and red and green are compliments.

Above we see how the complimentary pair red and green, as well as blue and orange help this artist to reveal another face of color.

Color is science, but it is also emotional, expressive, and FUN! Find some paints, and start your color exploration… investigate, experiment, explore and experience the power of color to change your state of mind, or even how warm or cold you feel. We can actually FEEL a difference of 7 degrees in temperature, depending on what colors we see and are surrounded by. Such is the power of color. Color is powerful, but don’t forget to play with it, too!

Advertisements

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.

ColorWheel2WEBa

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.

Color_Wheel_WEB1

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.

Color_Wheel1WEBa

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.

ColorWheelShoesWEBa

Tints: A color with white added to it.

Shades: A color with black added to it.

Tones: A color with gray added to it.

Resource

Color Blossoms

Color Blossoms

Floral Inspiration for Color Palettes, Choices, and Combinations


Red, yellow and blue…the classic primary palette with a twist…the colors are warmer and lighter than “true” primaries…with the blue leaning towards the turquoise, the red to the orange, and the yellow a paler tint.

Red and black together can signify hatred, but not here.  The illuminated orangey-red flower hue,  the addition of green in the background and calming quality of the surrounding earth make this an energizing, and somehow ethereal combination.

Analogous colors  are next to each other on the color wheel, such as, yellow (a primary color) and orange (a secondary color). Because yellow is a part of orange, and red is a part of both orange and purple, there is an immediate harmony and relationship  between these colors.

Purple and orange are both secondary colors, which as mentioned above, share red as a “parent”.  With the surrounding green leaves, all three secondaries are represented, providing both balance, and visual interest.

We don’t speak of a “pale” red.  When red becomes lighter in value, tinted with white, it becomes pink. The strong intensity of  the  pink rose swathed in not quite complimentary green leaves is softened by the dots of yellow to one side of it, which relieves both our mental attention and our physical eyes.

  The yellow and orange “bouquet”, analogous colors again adjacent on the color wheel, rise out of a mass of green.  All three of which hues share yellow in common. The parchment and brick colors of the building serve as a harmonious backdrop, and do not compete with nature…


Blue, white, green…the colors of nature. Sky, clouds, and plants, with a slight yellow center in view.  Sunlight?  Think Greece, the Aegean Isles……the sea, the sky, white buildings in the distance, and a bright yellow sunflower flaunted by green pines.


Here, “black” earth surrounds brilliant yet tender hues of yellow, pink, red, and purple. Red and green are compliments, as are yellow and purple…thus providing the tension and the attraction of opposites.


Yellow has a direct relationship with green, being one of its “parent” colors, along with blue. The lighter value and greater intensity of the yellow above makes it pop, amidst the green.


A group of related colors, (hues of orange, including the brick wall) all have yellow in common, as do the green leaves.  The variation in value, intensity and tone of the colors, (and differences in texture of the natural, and made-made surfaces)  creates  visual interest, and  their inter-relatedness creates harmony,  thus a pleasing balance is achieved.

Tints of warm, edible-looking orange contrast with green leaves, which reflect the warmth and ruffly quality of the flower!

Our eye is led around the white on red table top, up the bright red vase, and into the glories of burgundy, violet, yellow and white, with some refreshing yellowing-green blossoms thrown in for good measure.  White softens the scheme, and relieves the richness of these very saturated colors. The red, burgundy and violet share red in common, the yellow and green, have yellow in common, the green and violet have blue in common, thus there is both contrast, and relatedness among the colors. The bright red is  the strongest in chroma, and draws our eye in and up to the floral arrangement.  The combination enlivens and energizes the table, the space, our appetites, and our minds, without overwhelming.

What color palettes for Your home, business or other spaces have been inspired by the glories and the subtleties, of nature?

Where  and how does color blossom for YOU?

Color for All Reasons I

Color for All Reasons I

We have so many situations in our lives when we are called upon to make color decisions.  Whether it be for our homes, our appearance, our mode of transport, our creative endeavors, our web presence, or our work….the colors we choose play a huge role in our lives.

Our color choices both express us…from the inside out, as well as affect how we are viewed..from the outside in.  Thus in our creative expressions, the “branding” of our businesses, and the sum total of our visual identities, color is a defining factor that communicates who we are, where we are at, and who we aspire to be, simultaneously.

I  recently had the opportunity to work with a beloved colleague who needed a color consultation for her marketing client.  The color purple had been chosen for the client’s logo, but my colleague thought the purple hue could be tweaked a bit, and wanted both a suggestion for a color to compliment the purple, as well as information on the meaning of the recommended colors.

After reading about the client and her business, and viewing the logo and the initial color of purple chosen, I knew the appropriate compliment was just that, the compliment of purple: yellow (well…gold/ochre tones of yellow).  Complimentary colors are those opposite each other on the color wheel, and just like black and white these dynamic duos set each other off, and well, compliment each other!

I know that blue would be too cool, and too close to purple, as it is one of its components. The same for red. I knew orange would be too bold with the purple, and green too varied.  All of these could be beautiful combinations, but not for the purpose we were trying to achieve, the communication of the client’s brand, or as I like to think of it, her essence; that which she has to offer.  It had to be gold…in an earthy, ochre tonality.  One way to tone down, or “kick back”  (bring down the intensity and brightness) of a color is to add a quotient of its complement, or opposite…in this case, purple!

I also recommended warming up the cool, ethereal shade of purple initially chosen by the client by upping its quotient of red, which would work well with the earthy tone of gold/ochre I suggested.

The meaning of the recommended colors was accessed from a number of vantage points, in regards to everything I was given to understand about the client, her message, her intentions, her history and life experience, her current situation, and future intentions, as well as her hopes, plans and purpose.  The colors had to reflect and communicate all of these, and feel completely authentic to her as well.

Please tune back in next week for part two of our series Color for all Reasons, and learn about the meaning of the colors for this very special client and her business. You can learn how You  can access the  colors that you choose from a variety of perspectives, that can illuminate, support and enrich your color choices, and hopefully make them less agonizing.

What color choices have YOU had to make lately, and how have you made them?

If You feel so inclined, please share about them with us here.

We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all adding color to this thing called Life, together.

Thanks for joining us on the journey…

Color Ground

Color Ground
The colors we clothe our buildings in, and the materials we use to build them can have a significant effect on how solid, safe, and grounded they appear.  And, I  might add, in addition to paint color, let’s not forget that the wood, brick, stone, concrete, metal and other natural and industrial materials we build with, have color too.  Add to this the by turns rapturous, earthy, luminous, bold, sublime, and subtle colors of nature, and you have a complex picture of the elements that go into making where we live, work and play picture perfect..or not.

In general, darker, richer, deeper, more saturated, brighter, warmer and more intense colors appear heavier, and thus may seem to “pull downward” towards the, in most cases, ground!  Placing them above a lighter, airier, softer, cooler,  paler, duller, less saturated colors may give the impression of pressing or pushing down upon something less substantial, creating a sense of pressure, ungroundedness, or even danger.  Who wants to feel like the heavier-looking second story might come crashing down through its weaker-looking support, or foundation?

The building above is grounded not only by its strong, dark burgundy red garage door, but also by the heavy foliage and hedge shrubbery which nearly obscures its foundation (the lower part of the structure upon which the rest of the building rests). The cream-colored concrete, red roof tile and strongly patterned brick provide contrast and a  variety of color and materials, but, particularly because of the grounding effect of the dark green, highly textural foliage, do not seem too heavy for the foundation to bear.

The UMG (Universal Music Group) office building in Santa Monica, CA is grounded by a strong, deep, earthy brick-red, which seems to support the pale pink upper above, though the entire structure is punctuated by a multitude of windows. Palms, parkway and other landscaping in front also support this grounded effect.

A similar outcome is achieved by juxtaposing a more saturated hue of reddish pink stucco foundation with the softer and paler ocher-colored wood siding above.  Lush vegetation sporting luxuriant red and pink flowers trailing over a natural wood fence add to its heavier, grounding effect

These interior gymnasium walls are grounded by the deep blue protective covering at their base. Given the wild shapes and over-sized   lines, shapes and patterns used in the room’s design, the consistency and “reliability” of the blue may also serve to keep young athletes players focused and grounded as they play.

Here is the outside of the same building, swathed in corrugated stripes.   Notice that the stripe closest to the ground is darker blue, and the one at the top, lighter.

This fun and fascinating building combines all manner of materials, from wood siding, to brick, to concrete,

and even verdigris decorative details above the door. The mass of flowering vegetation in front,  while nearly obscuring parts of the facade,  add to the fancy of the place, while connecting it to the earth, the  ground.  In moody weather, the mix of weathered materials and enveloping foliage may lend an air of mystery and perhaps even magic to the place.

Here, an artist’s self-styled, whimsical touch creates grounding through the application of  bright color, repeated shapes, and sense of a garden planted  at the base of the house. The playful, optimistic feeling  is further enhanced by the use of complementary colors  yellow and purple.

The largest sphere in this extraordinary mural seems to be sitting right on the sidewalk!  It could be coming right out at us, the viewer, but at least the building doesn’t look like it is about to leave the ground!  The tiled trompe l’oeil technique is used to great visual and grounding, effect here.

When we walk past this extraordinary building in LA’s Venice Canal District, our eye is drawn past the foliage, across the manicured back yard, and over the amazing sunken pool under the blue-framed overhang, through the space between the orange posts, to the electric apple green accent wall behind them. Brighter, more vibrant, and more saturated than the natural greens , and applied blue and orange surrounding it, this wall looks  strong enough to carry this unusual structure’s  visual weight.

This wild building on Wilshire in Santa Monica is one of my favorites.  An eclectic mix of materials, hues and shapes, it seems break all the “rules”, yet somehow, it works!  This could be due to a counteracting balancing effect of the mix of elements. The undulating curve of the upper wood facade/detail is counterbalanced by the strong concrete support/column next to it, even though the wood is a strong color, and an even stronger visual element. Our eye is drawn upward from the glass, and warm blue and green (reflecting sea, sky and grass?) colors behind it to that grand sweep of wood,

which is also supported by the metal detail/support that follows its shape and movement below.  The whole building feels like a

huge kinetic wave, appropriate architecture for a beach town on the edge of the Pacific. The foliage, and its concrete base below also add grounding.  Amazing!  Fidelity, you got it going on, architecturally!

The “Bagel Nosh”  in Santa Monica, hosts a marvelous display of mouth-watering treats. Where does our eye go right to here?  No, there isn’t a spotlight on the center of the case.  That’s just the natural color of these bright golden-yellow jalapeno-flavored bagels. The strong, rich, saturated color just grabs our attention, and holds it there…it’s up to you to decide whether the taste of these treats warrants their attention-grabbing status.

  We walk upon the ground,  perhaps that is why our  shoes are often brown and black…colors of the earth.  We usually want to feel grounded when we tread upon the earth, a firm foundation, a solid base.  But, maybe not all the time.  Perhaps sometimes we want to whirl, twirl, leap, float, and feel  “ten feet off the ground”.  Don’t we long to take risks, to take  flight, as much as we long to be safe, secure, and grounded?  When you want to feel fun, fantastical, floating, and fabulous, try on a glittery, glowing, or gossamer pair of footwear, and see if it helps your grounded spirit to soar!

What buildings, architecture, food or footwear have YOU experienced lately that feel grounded or the opposite?

If you feel so inclined, please share about them with us here.

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all trying to ground ourselves  yet take flight within this thing called Life, together.

Stay grounded, but don’t be afraid to fly!

Color Story

Color Story

Once upon a time, in December of 2009, I was asked to assist in color selection for the exterior of a cool sort of industrial-looking  building on Corbett Street in San Francisco. Being a condominium building with three units, it had three sets of  inhabitants, which made up its HOA, (Home Owners Association). One of these was taking charge of the painting project, and thus, of course, the colors.  I was in luck…someone, I still don’t know who, referred my services, and I am so glad they did.  Little did any of us know that our task would not be completed until June of 2011.

My clients, technically the HOA, but, in my mind, George and Garret, who were handling the process,  live part-time in Texas.  We initially discussed the importance of the materials (those that would not be painted), primarily the hand-made wooden, slatted front gate, and the beautiful multi-colored tiles of the steps and planter. These would provide the direction for the house body (main), the garage door and trim, and the window sash and balcony rail (accent) color choices.

Because the building has an industrial, almost loft-like feel, there is an interesting tension between the architecture and surrounding  foliage.  We knew that the color scheme was to be cool, stream-lined and elegant, with enough contrast to the proliferation of nature in which it would dwell, yet it also needed to complement, and draw out the browns and greens of the nearby plants, trees and bushes. I felt that the colors should provide a nod to the structure’s industrial “downtown” sensibility.

The silvery metal house numbers also support the loft aesthetic, and would become part of the color story, providing a bit of reflective gleam.

We opted for Benjamin Moore “Iron Gate”, #1545, for the house body, and Sherwin Williams “Rustic Red” # 7593 for the window sashes, and balcony railings. Keeping the balcony railings, on the left side of the building, the same accent color as the sashes provides balance, as there is a lot more red sash action going on to the right, and we needed enough red on the left to counterbalance.

George and Garret turned me on to Sherwin Williams “Iron Gate” #2926, which  they had used on their Houston, Texas home, and was already on the garage of the building.  I loved the color, and wanted to use it.  Incredibly, it worked beautifully with Benjamin Moore’s version, the “other” Iron Gate, chosen for the house body.  Fascinating to see the different takes on what hues the term “Iron Gate” conjure up!

Over the course of  a year and a half, chatting on the phone and by email in-between meetings with George and Garret when they were in town, and their painter Tony, (local), we confirmed the scheme. Tony put up samples,  and George and Garret discussed them with the other owners and got the consensus. We were finally ready for the building to be primed! Yes, we were moving ahead! We were keeping the garage door color, and adding it to the trim above, and shifting the red on the sashes and railings to something a bit more toned-down,  in better keeping with the strong wood hue of the gate. We were transforming the body color from a paler blueish green, to the richly nuanced  and deeper grayish green hue of Iron Gate, Ben Moore style. It was happening!

And…voila!  Our attention to detail, and focus on bringing together subtle, and not so subtle shifts of color finally yielded its fruit…achieving a stream-lined, elegant, “industrial” harmony, which plays nice with its natural and architectural surroundings, and integrates seamlessly into the neighborhood.  I know George and Garret will feel great every time they enter their San Francisco home.  I hope all others who are sheltered here do as well.

What color sagas have YOU participated in lately?

If  you feel so moved, please share them with us here.

We love to hear from you.

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

Cheers!

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Colors that Advance and Recede



Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Colors that Advance and Recede

On March 20, 2011, during our Color Muze segment on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, I had the opportunity to chat with hosts  Rebecca and Lyna‘s delightful guest, mixed media artist Kelli Perkins about color temperature, colors that advance and recede, and the relationship between the two.  Playing off our previous discussions of “Synesthesia“, or, “The Unity of the Senses“, the idea that colors provoke associations our senses other than sight, during this Muze, we focused on which colors seem to advance, and which to recede.  This effect is particularly salient as regards to architectural color, as it can be used to make a space feel larger,

or smaller….

For example, if we paint the walls a color that seems to advance towards us, the space itself will feel smaller.  Doing the opposite can create the opposite effect.  This technique can be used in any visual context.  Using colors that advance and recede can create movement or stillness, dynamism or placidity, agitation or peacefulness, in paintings, textiles, clothing, or anything that uses color as an element.  Artists, take this to heart.  Kelli does use color!  Warm, saturated, and often secondary (purple, green, orange) color!  She uses it intuitively and instinctively, even giving herself luminescent purple hair in a self-portrait.  Check it out, you have to see this!

But what makes a color seem to advance or recede?   And, what qualities do those colors have?

Well, for one thing, how warm or cool a color is perceived to be plays a major role.   If we consider the color wheel, we can see a warm half of the wheel,  red through yellow-green, and a cool half, green through red-violet.  In terms of our perception, warm colors seem to advance, and cool, to recede.  When we talk about color “pop”, it refers to the advancing quality of that color, making it “pop” out at us, like the brilliant orange vase in this room.

Warm to hot colors will seem to advance, making the surfaces sheathed in them seem to be closer to you, thus making a room seem smaller, cozier, and, of course, warmer.  Often, we want this, and a cavernous space may need it to feel livable.

Cool to cold colors will seem to recede, making the surfaces they sheath feel farther away from us, thus visually adding space, or volume, to a room.  This sense of space can be calming and refreshing, especially on a hot day!

By the same token, dark, saturated colors advance and make a space feel smaller, and more intimate,

while pale, light colors, with less saturation add volume by receding. offering a sense of spaciousness, and potentially, rest and relief.

And for sure…strong, bold busy pattern advances!  This intimate boudoir becomes yet more magical, fantastical and fun with the addition of this totally HOT fabric wallpaper and curtain!

Smaller, more subdued pattern also recedes.  Here the cool blue elegance of the drapes is warmed up by the detail, which brings them to the same plane as the surrounding white walls.  The walls themselves recede in lightness of color, advance  in warmth of tone, and recede  in absence of pattern!  Wow.  This advancing and receding stuff can be complex.  Almost like a math problem. But, ooh, how fun to contemplate!

An interesting discovery can be made when considering our use of language, vis-a-vis not only color, but temperature, AND the idea of advancing and receding.  Let’s listen to what we say, what we think, and how we describe relationships, or even our own emotions  and personalities.  When someone, or even our self, is being or feeling cool, or cold, we often describe that behavior as distant.  Or, visa versa, if someone seems remote, or distant, we may jump to the conclusion that they are “cold” or “cool”,  emotionally. We may even feel cold or cool ourselves, when we feel emotionally distant from another person, experience,  or something we see, or do.

Conversely, when we feel intimate and close to others, to our experience, to ourselves, to Life,  we may feel warm, or even hot (!).  How often do we say, “I feel so cool and cozy!”?  Never, I would venture to guess.  Not if we aren’t characters in a J K Rowling fantasy!  When we feel warmth towards or from another person, they feel “close” to us, and we feel close to them. .  It would be hard to feel close to someone, to our authentic selves, or to our experience, and feel cool or cold. When we say, “Person X is so warm, I feel so close to him/her.”, we are equating emotional temperature with emotional proximity, and the idea of emotional color advancing and receding within ourselves and others.

There is much to contemplate here, and this could be the subject of a whole new post.  Have you ever felt the temperature effect, either emotionally, or physically, through color?  Have you used color deliberately, to expand or contract the perceived volume of a space? Have you noticed your own telling use of language to describe either?

If you feel so inspired, please share your insights, discoveries, and experiences with us here.  We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all, hopefully, advancing through this thing called Life, together.

Here’s wishing you both color and emotional mastery, magic and adventure.  It’s hot!

 

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

Artifactory Studio on Facebook Artifactory Studio on Twitter Artifactory Studio on LinkedIn