Welcome to the On-line Education Section of
For the 2012 Calendar Year, the topic of study will be COLOR
What a fun and important subject for artists to learn!
I have divided the lesson color topics into four categories plus an introduction to color:
• Introductory information:
Definition of color
Glossary of color terms
• The Colors themselves
The range and characteristics of various colors and how to mix them
• Pigment Personalities
Discovering the uniqueness of colors, their Intensity, Opacity, Staining, etc.
• Color Application
How to intelligently use color to it's best advantage
• Color Schemes or Combinations
Traditional and new combinations for color harmony in your art
All of the information in the Introductory section is available to youThe four following topics will be created as 45 On-Line Lessons, one added each week, as down-loadable pdfs
free and you are welcome to copy and share it with friends and students.
which you can purchase to print and study at your leisure. Each lesson will be made available after it has been
taught in my Seattle area classes. If you are interested in joining the classes in person, please click on the
Classes or Workshop buttons above for information.
This page is still under construction....
look for frequent updates!
For starters, here is a glossary of Color Terms:
ACHROMATIC—lacking color, having no place on the color wheel. (neutral, unsaturated, e.g. black, white, all grays).
ADDITIVE COLOR SYSTEM—theory of color based on light. Primary colors are red, blue-violet and green. Combination of all 3 produces white. Used for TV, computer monitors, film.
AGGRESSION—the spreading tendencies of a watercolor pigment when it is touched onto wet paper. Also called dispersion.
ANALOGOUS—colors that are next to each other on the color wheel (yellow-green, yellow, yellow-orange). Also a color scheme using only three or four adjacent colors.
ANALOGOUS PLUS COMPLEMENT—a color scheme using three or four adjacent colors, plus one of their complements.
ASTM—American Society of Testing and Materials, a reliable organization providing information about lightfastness, ingredients, names and toxicity of pigments.
BALANCE—a design principle important to consider in regards to color.
BIAS—cool or warm leaning of a paint or painting
BICHROMATIC—two-color combinations, like complements.
BINARIES—another term for secondaries, or colors resulting from the equal mixture of primary colors.
BORDERLINE COLORS—Red-violet and Yellow-green are made from an equal mix of warm and cool colors, so some say they are not in either category.
BROKEN COLOR—small color bits having similar value placed next to each other, giving the illusion of another color. Optical color mixing, like Georges Seurat’s dots.
CHROMA—the purity of a color. The higher the chroma, the more purity and saturation it has. Also called intensity.
CHROMATIC GRAYS—another way of saying colorful grays. Mixed by using complementary combinations or by adding color to gray.
CLEAN—another way of saying a color has high intensity, purity or chroma.
COLOR—perception of different appearances in objects as our eyes take in light waves vibrating at different lengths. COLOR-CODING—term used by LaVere Hutchings for an underwash of light color in the general areas that will later be built up as the painting develops.
COLOR-CONSTANCY—our tendency to perceive a consistent color of things under varying lighting conditions.
COLOR CONTRAST—Michel Chevreul’s theory of seven contrasts included value, chroma, temperature, complementary, quantity, & simultaneous.
COLOR FAMILY—color scheme taught by Jean Grastorf. One of the three primaries, plus the three colors on either side on the color wheel.
COLOR HARMONIES—another term for Color Schemes or traditional combinations of colors.
COLOR INDEX NAME: a generic alphanumeric identifier code given to every color.
COLOR PERSONALITY—traits of individual paints, i.e. opaque/transparent, cool/warm, staining/lifting, weak/strong, pure/muted, granular/smooth, dark/light.
COLOR SCHEMES—traditional combinations of colors. Also called color harmonies.
COLOR WHEEL—a system for diagramming the main color spectrum in a circular design.
COLORANT—elements added to something to cause a change in color, such as chemicals, paint, ink, pigments, or dyes.
COLORIMETRY—the science of human color perception.
COLORIST—a painter who emphasizes color over value and shapes.
COMPLEMENTS—two colors across the color wheel from each other.
COMPLEMENTARY—a color scheme using only two colors opposite each other on the color wheel.
COMPLEMENTARY TRIAD—a color scheme using two complements and one of the 2 colors halfway between them.
COOL—generally, colors on the blue-green-violet side of the color wheel. However, individual hues will also fall on either the cool or warm side of each ideal primary.
DISPERSION—the spreading tendency of watercolor pigment when dropped onto wet paper. Also called aggression.
DOMINANCE—important design principle to consider with color usage.
DOMINANT LIGHT—sunshine, artificial, time of day, location and other light variations influence color.
DOUBLE COMPLEMENTARY—a color scheme using two sets of any complementary colors.
DOUBLE SPLIT COMPLEMENTARY—a color scheme using the colors next to each side of a pair of complements.
DYE—colorants that dissolve in liquids (see pigments).
EARTH COLOR—natural colored substances used as pigments. Also, a palette of earthy brown and near-brown colors.
FUGITIVE—a color that will fade or change considerably over a short time (see lightfastness).
GAMUT—the range of colors that can be created from specific combinations of hues.
GLAZING—the technique of layering washes of pigment over each other.
GRADATION—an area of paint that varies in intensity from high to low.
GRANULATION—tendency for a paint to show graininess or speckling when washed out onto paper.
GRAYED—similar to toned-down. A color with some of it’s complement or gray added.
HARMONIOUS—related colors next to or near each other on the color wheel.
HIGH CHROMA—purity of color, without graying or dullness.
HIGH KEY—a painting with mostly light values.
HOME COLOR—the true color of an object without influence of light or surroundings. Also called local color.
HUE—the name of a color; another word for color.
INDEX NUMBER—precise identification of the chemical composition of a color.
INTENSITY—the strength and saturation, purity of a color. Range is from full intensity to completely neutral. Also called chroma.
INTERMEDIATE—another name for tertiary; a color made by mixing a primary and a neighboring secondary on the color wheel.
INTERFERENCE PAINT—paint which absorbs as well as reflects color.
KEY—the relative value plan of a painting. High key = light values dominate. Low key = dark values dominate. Middle key is most often used, with mid-values dominating.
KEYING--changing the look of a color by it’s placement near a complement, dark, neutral or more bright color. Also called pushing.
LIFTING—how well a color will come off the surface either while wet or after drying.
LIGHTFASTNESS—a color’s permanence. Rated in five degrees from I-V, with I being most lightfast.
LIMITED PALETTE—the use of a limited number of colors on a palette or in a painting.
LOCAL COLOR—the general descriptive color of an item (red apple) without influence of surrounding or lighting. Also called “Home” color.
LOW CHROMA—lacking purity of color, dull, grayed.
LOW KEY—a painting with mostly dark values.
LUMINANCE—the quality of light glowing through a paint.
MASS TONE—undiluted full-strength paint, as it comes from the tube.
MIDDLE KEY—A painting with a majority of mid-values.
MINGLING—a term for lightly mixing color, especially on the paper, so that the results still show a little of each of the pure color in the mix.
MIXED CONTRAST—the effect created when the eye stays on one color for a time, then looks at another, creating an after-image glaze. Also called successive contrast.
MODIFIED TRIAD—from a range of five analogous colors, use 1,3,& 5.
MONOCHROMATIC—a color scheme created with one color.
MOTHER COLOR—both a dominant color in a painting, and a color which is added in some amount to every other color used.
NEAR COMPLEMENTARY—a color scheme using a color plus another just next to it’s complement. Also called Off-complementary.
NEUTRALS—colors made by combining purer hues with white or black, or by mixing complementaries. Also, blacks, grays, browns. See achromatic.
NON-STAINING—paints that lift easily off most paper surfaces.
OFF-COMPLEMENTARY--a color scheme using a color plus another just next to it’s complement. Also called Near-complementary.
OPACITY—colors that block the passage of light are opaque.
OPTICAL COLOR--small color bits having similar value placed next to each other, giving the illusion of another color. Also called broken color.
PALETTE—the collection of colors a painter uses to paint. Also the tray used to hold them.
PERSONALITY—description of paint traits: warm/cool, opaque/transparent, staining/lifting, granular/smooth, high/low chroma, strong/weak, gummy/slick, spreading/inert.
PIGMENT—colorants that do not dissolve in liquids, but instead are dispersed in other substances, or carrying agents, as tiny solid particles (see dyes).
PRIMARY—the three colors which cannot be created by mixing other colors: red, yellow, blue.
PROPERTIES OF COLOR—Four attributes of all colors: hue, value, intensity, temperature.
PURITY—clean, bright color, unsullied by other pigments. Also called saturation, intensity, chroma, clean.
PUSHING—changing the look of a color by it’s placement near a complement, dark, neutral or more bright color. Also called keying.
REFLECTED COLOR— color influence of nearby objects.
REPETITION—important design principle; avoiding isolated color.
RHYTHM—important design principle; applying color in intervals.
SATURATION—the intensity and strength, chroma and cleaness of a color.
SECONDARY—colors mixed by combining two primaries: orange, green, violet.
SECONDARY PALETTE—an alternative palette of primary/secondaries: hansa yellow, pyrrole orange, quin rose, ultramarine blue, phthalo blue GS, and phthal green BS.
SEDIMENTARY—paints that show a graininess or speckled texture when painted out. Another term for granulation.
SEMI-OPAQUE—nearly opaque. (Range is Opaque, Semi-Opaque, Semi-Transparent and Transparent).
SEMI-TRANSPARENT—nearly transparent. (see above).
SEMI-TRIAD—a color scheme consisting of a color, it’s complement and one color one away from the complement.
SHADE—a color to which black has been added.
SIMULTANEOUS CONTRAST—the effect colors have on each other when seen together.
SPECTRUM—the array of colors created when light is dispersed by a prism, with the visible spectrum being the colors we see with our eyes.
SPLIT COMPLIMENTARY—a color scheme using three colors next to each other on the color wheel, plus the compliment of main color of those 3.
SPLIT-PRIMARY PALETTE—also called a warm/cool palette. A collection including a warm and cool version of each of the primaries.
STAINING—how much a paint sets permanently into paper.
STRENGTH—the power of a color to influence a mixture.
SUBTRACTIVE—theory of color based on colorants. Primary colors are red, blue and yellow. Combination of all 3 produces black.
SUCCESSIVE CONTRAST—an after-image of complementary color seen when looking at a white surface after staring at another color for a time.
SYMBOLISM—the emotional impact traditionally connected to certain colors.
TEMPERATURE—the relative coolness or warmth of a pigment or range of colors.
TERTIARY—colors mixed by combining a primary and a secondary: yellow-orange, red-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, red-violet, blue-violet.
TETRADIC—a color scheme using four related colors on the color wheel (e.g. double complements).
TINT—color to which white has been added. In watercolor, a color that has been considerably diluted with water.
TINTING STRENGTH—the power of a color to influence a mixture.
TONE—color which has been grayed.
TRANSPARENCY—the clarity of a color, or ability to let light pass through the color. Transparency comes in four general levels: opaque, semi-opaque, semi-transparent, transparent See “opaque”.
TRIADIC—a color scheme using 3 colors equidistant from each other on the color wheel, such as a the primary colors.
TRIAD-MODERN—used by printers: magenta, yellow, cyan.
TRIAD-TRADITIONAL—used by painters: red, yellow, blue.
UNSATURATED—any color lacking much pure color.
VALUE—the lightness or darkness of a color.
WARM—generally, colors on the yellow-orange-red side of the color wheel. However, individual hues will also fall on either the warm or cool side of a true version of itself on the color wheel.
WATERMARKING—the tendency of some paints to show a disturbance when water is washed over them after drying.
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