‘Color as a value’

Cool Sun


  Color. Honestly I am telling, It always confuses me. Whatever I learned It still remains a mystery to me, like John Carlson’s  ‘ Landscape Painting book. Paul Strisik said in his ‘Capturing light in oils’ book.’ I read Carlson book many times. But still something remains which I do not understand.”

  I also read Carlson many times, I feel the same. I understood that nature always remains a mystery however much you may know. Color is also like nature. In reality we are recognizing everything in this world through color only. So understanding color is always a difficult thing.


  To understand color we will go with some simple process. You see color wheel. You can see this color wheel in any art book. In that wheel opposite colors are complementaries.  Complementaries means they will interact with each other comfortably like an understanding couple. Suppose if you take yellow as your predominant color, violet will be the complimentary. Then take two adjacent colors of your predominant color, yellow; those colors will be ‘yellow orange and yellow green’. Paint a picture with these combinations, you will get color harmony. If you want go one more step, take two split complementaries instead of complimentary, that means ‘ blue violet and Red violet’.By using these You will bring some extra energy into the picture. This extra energy will give some dynamic effect. Because they are split complementaries. You won’t learn these things over night. If you try hard to learn, over a period of time you will know. In different methods you can experiment with the wheel.


  I am coming to the term ‘Color as Value’. Here everybody feels a problem in learning stage. Of course, still I am facing it like a beginner. Because I have not grown in an environment of art. Every color is having it’s own value. To understand, open a image editing software, such as Adobe Photo shop. Turn colors into grey scale. Then you know the value of each color. But before doing this enjoy the painting as if though computers do not exist. Children will do this way. That’s why they will get the pleasure. Why don’t we? Of course, again it’s my opinion. Everybody will have their own way.


  Once you experience the colors, their interactions, experiment with their values. Study the cool and warm colors. In outdoors, shadows are always cool, In interiors its opposite. In interiors highlights will be cool. So shadows will be warm. This is not the place to explain all those things. Always use thick impasto for light areas. Because those areas you are seeing. In shadows again its opposite. You are not seeing them. You are seeing the light only. That’s why shadows should be painted with thin paint.

   Light is the mother of colors. Colors are children of light. Know this truth.

   Every color is beautiful in given circumstances; as individual its only a pigment. To turn this pigment as light (because this is the light which makes us to feel the colors as objects) you have to live with that. I did it. But still I am groping in the dark to know them.


   As for theory some colors come forward and some will recede but I am telling you, it depends upon situations. So there are no hard and fast rules. Learn them. Follow them if you want. If they won’t suit you, change them. Change is the essence of truth. Truth always changes with circumstances. I believe it.