Color Workshop Week 6: Lots of Paint

This week, I spent a lot of my time at my kitchen table mixing paints, and I feel like I am getting a much better understanding of how colors interact. I went back and mixed my assigned hue in its pure form (pure YG as opposed to my signature hue YG-S1). I think last week I made a mistake and did the tint/tone/shade studies in my signature hue instead of the pure hue, as we were supposed to. I’m really glad I went back and did this assignment over with pure YG, because mixing this pure YG was an entirely different process than mixing YG-S1, and it gave me a deeper understanding of its properties.

I began by using the Chromium Oxide green, as I had in mixing my signature hue, and added white to make it lighter (see top of image above). This yielded a much too muddy, muted result, so I tried the Phthalo green instead. In my past attempts working with Phthalo, I felt like it was difficult to “tame” it to a workable color… everything I mixed with it came out an unnatural, neon-plasticky green. Which is kind of what the pure YG Color-Aid swatch is. I was able to pretty much exactly match the Color-Aid (!) in using the Phthalo with tons of white and even more yellow. This was a really big achievement for me: holding the paint and Color-Aid side by side, they are pretty much identical in any lighting setting. I went on to conduct tint/tone/shade studies of pure YG in paint and Color-Aid.

I saved my precious mixture of YG and went on to mix its complement for the study above. My last attempts at mixing RV didn’t work out as I had wanted (see Week 5), so I took a different approach. Instead of using pre-mixed violets, I simply mixed Cyan and Pyrrole red. I don’t know why I didn’t try this before, but it worked out pretty well—again, nearly exactly matching the Color-Aid RV swatch. I mixed the two pure hues to create two neutrals, each tending toward one side of the mix (one more green, one more purple), and then conducted a tint study with all four hues. I’m pretty pleased with how this one turned out. It was a lot of work but well worth it.

Next I conducted a proportional study, drawing colors from an image and creating color schemes with different amounts and combinations. I selected an image I took on a grad school visit to LA… this image was taken in the parking lot of the Hayden Tract . I was thrilled to capture a hummingbird at rest on an amazing desert-y tree. The image had many different colors, including shades of yellow-green, and it relates to my theme of reverence for nature that I will depict in my color trend book.

I tried this proportional study with stripes instead, but it was difficult for me to visually understand the proportions that way. I found squares/rectangles of varying sizes was much easier for me to work with.

Mixing the colors I saw in this image with paint was a challenge for me. I think the sky blue was the most difficult because it was hard for me to get away from the typical baby blue/sky blue/unnatural shade. I found with each of the colors, it helped to mix a bit of the complement in to bring the hue to a natural place. It’s amazing to me that such complementary colors (and colors whose hue can only be achieved through mixing in the complement) are found in nature. Muted tones of the red flowers are found on the stalk thingies of the tree, and as the stalks age, they reach a lighter pastel of the red. Also the tips of the succulent-y leaves have tinges of the same hue. I’m really glad I picked this image because it gave me such an appreciation for how colors are appear in nature. Truly exquisite.

Color Workshop Week 5: Analyzing the Signature Color

The first step in my studies of my signature hue was to mix it using acrylic paint. I started with Chromium Oxide green and added varying amounts of primary yellow, matte medium, white and cobalt blue to get as close as possible to the YG-S1 Color-Aid chip.

I think despite my many efforts at mixing YG-S1, my best formula was #10 (page 2). A close second would be #23 (page 3). I’m still not happy with my mixes of the complement, red-violet. None of my mixes seemed to have the same brightness and saturation of the Color-Aid swatch.

I used my winning formula of YG-S1 to complete tint, tone and shade studies for the signature hue. Some took a more abstract form than others.

Our next assignment was create harmonious neutrals (full chroma and low chroma) with the signature hue and its complement. Because my signature hue is a shade (YG-S1) and not a pure hue, I’m not sure if its complement is RV or RV-S1. I conducted the study with both and did my best to match the painted results with Color-Aid.

Below some additional explorations of my signature hue’s relationship with complementary, split complementary, double complementary, analogous and extended analogous colors.

Last, I investigated yellow-green and texture with some more yellow-green Knoll swatches I had lying around.

Color Workshop Week 5: Selecting the Signature Hue

I selected Color Aid swatch YG-s1 to serve as the subject of my book for Project 1 in Color Workshop. It is the first shade in the Yellow-Green family, making it slightly more subdued than the pure yellow-green hue. Adding just a bit of black to the hue maintains the its freshness, while making it less technicolor and more natural. This color is empowered and bold (evoking the feelings of the Karamazov quote from last week), while still working as a lovely neutral (see Analyzing the Signature Color). We are supposed to name our selected hue and this is something I’m struggling with. I think I’ve been conditioned to think “grass green” whenever I see it, but I know I can do better than that. One thing that strikes me about it is its sheer greenness…it truly is the greenest of all greens in the yellow-green family. Or maybe I’ve just been looking at it far too long.

Here is the color’s information in other color management systems: Pantone 363C; C = 68, M = O, Y = 100, K = 24; R = 67, G = 149, B = 57.

Color Workshop: Color Book Research Part 1, or Formalizing My Love of Yellow-Green

For Color Workshop, our first project is to create a color book on a randomly assigned hue. I was enormously lucky to draw yellow-green, my absolute favorite color. Green plays a huge role in my life (and my apartment), from injection-molded Ikea chairs to my bedding and curtains in bedroom, to my favorite ever passage from a favorite book, Dostoevsky’s The Brother’s Karamazov. For preliminary research, we were asked to create a monochromatic color plane, and I was lucky to have already created one at the beginning of the semester. In the first version (see Color Workshop: Week Two) I forgot to write the swatch names as we were asked, so I added them and here is the updated image.

To prepare for the assignment, I interviewed my friends about their associations with yellow-green. Here are some of their responses: activity, contemporary culture, crayons, delight, Sprite, kitchen cleaner, citrus, grass, retro kitchen appliances (and kitchen accessories in general), “awesomeness” and avocado. Green has been found to have a calming effect, which is why guests waiting to appear on TV shows wait in the “green room.” One study found green to improve reading ability (speed and comprehension) for students when they laid a transparent green sheet over their reading material. Green has long symbolized fertility, so much that in the 15th Century it was the color of wedding gowns. Researchers have said that green makes many people think of sex, which explains why the cartoon green M&M is dressed like such a hussy (for an M&M). I also learned that in yoga, the heart chakra is represented by the color green, relating to the heart, blood and circulatory system.

Because this color is so personal to me, my color “story” begins with personal associations, memories and sensory experiences. My associations with yellow-green run the gamut, but here is what comes to mind: Paldo brand aloe juice from my neighborhood bodega, freshness, health, cracking a celery rib and seeing the fibers stick out, crispness, happiness, retro and current trendy furniture and textiles, mint/mojitos/my favorite Queen Helene Mint Julep face mask, nature, self-satisfaction and confidence, mist/dew, the celery green plush carpet in my old bedroom at my parent’s house, celadon, the word “lush,” the plastic plant in my fish’s bowl, herbal Bath and Body Works body spray I used every day in 7th grade, guacamole and chimichurri sauce. In making this list, I realized that most associations I have with green are of yellow-green, as opposed to blue-green or shades and tints of pure green.

I represented some of these associations in my image collage by featuring pictures of crisp modern furniture with clean lines, edamame and kiwi (representing both the plant/nature component and the health component) and cosmetic toiletry packaging (meant to evoke vitality, youth and freshness). In future explorations, I would like to capture yellow-green in natural context, as opposed to the man-made yellow-green above. The textile swatches are courtesy of best friend Kate, who just finished working at Knoll. It’s interesting to see how texture and slight value variation affects one’s perception of the color, particularly when viewed at a distance versus close up. The lower right pattern is the duvet on my bed. I love this particular shade of yellow-green (it’s a little darker in the scan than in real life) and I think I might select this as my signature hue for the assignment … or maybe just a shade lighter like the sofa above that swatch.

My biggest association with yellow-green is plants and foliage, particularly young leaves, lighter in color than mature leaves. This is due (in part) to my favorite passage from The Brother’s Karamazov. To set up the quote, Alyosha, the virtuous brother is in a cafe with his brother, Ivan who is struggling with inner conflict. Ivan has a realization that he wants to embrace the beauty in the world despite his misgivings about life:

“The centripetal force on our planet is still fearfully strong, Alyosha. I have a longing for life, and I go on living in spite of logic. Though I may not believe in the order of the universe, yet I love the sticky little leaves as they open in spring.”

This quote is stirring for me on many levels. Initially, it evokes strong memories of sticky leaves opening—the dewy appearance of the leaves and the crisp, crinkly sound they can make upon unfurling. I’ve heard it before and it’s quite magical. I was up late working at my desk one night and, from behind, I heard one of the leaves of my Dieffenbachia plant open slightly. It was a surreal experience, and though deliriously tired, I know it was true (my boyfriend heard the same leave unfurl again while working at my desk a few days later). My love of plants (and yellow-green, by extension) represents the reverence I have for the beauty and random evolutionary course of nature. Much like Ivan in The Brother’s Karamazov, this was a deeply personal realization that has completely changed my outlook on the world forever.

It’s interesting to note that in my interviews no one said jealousy, envy, youthful naivete—typical cultural associations others have made with green but I haven’t. Perhaps only pure green (and not yellow- or blue-green) evokes this association. In my book, I want to depict yellow-green as the positive qualities I listed above rather than negative associations of money and greed, because for me, green is all good.

I Spy Complementary Colors

I stole this one from Things to Save. Beyond that, I have no idea where it is from or who designed it.

Based on what my friend Jeff told me about his 8-hour layover in Korea, you could substitute “Korea” for “Japan.” The complementary colors do well to illustrate the point of the graphic.

Tea tins from my beloved Pearl River Mart on Broadway. I suppose the one in the middle is the only true complementary color scheme, but all the tins use bold complementary colors (in varying doses) creating a strong graphic effect. I’m posting more pictures even though they aren’t exclusively complementary color schemes simply because they are beautiful.

Unfortunately, the tea sold in these tins is pretty terrible … I guess they assume the only people who shop at Pearl River Mart are tourists who don’t know better. Against our better judgement, my friend Kate and I bought an armfull just for tins.

Last is a selection of photos from my trip to China in May 2008. These images are from a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Shangri-La, which had the most incredible paintings covering nearly every surface. Again, the color scheme isn’t exclusively complementary, but I think the visual punch of art comes from the use of complementary color. Red and green play a prominent role in each piece.

I am awe struck every time I look at these images … makes me kinda want to join the Tibetan brotherhood.

Both the tea tins and Buddhist paintings are huge inspirations I would like to channel in future work. Much of my favorite art employs a similar use of color: contrasting, highly saturated and bold.

Color Workshop: Week 4

This week we studied complementary and split-complementary relationships. This is the first study of violet, yellow and the harmonious neutral created when the two are mixed—a lovely, golden brown. I was happy I could pretty nearly match the Color-Aid with acrylic paint, though the violet came out a bit darker than I wanted. Surprisingly, the Golden Ultramarine Violet paint I used had fairly high transparency when applied, so I had to pile on the coats, yielding a darker-than-desired result. I think I forgot to shake the bottle before dispensing it, so that might have been the culprit.

The red/green study presented the greatest challenge. I had difficulty matching the red and green acrylic paints to the Color-Aid (and after staring at it for so long, I swear the R-Hue Color-Aid has too much of a cool-ish cast). I was happy with the Color-Aid swatch I deemed a visual mixture of red and green, however it came out darker in paint than I would have liked.

Split complementary color schemes I created in Color-Aid using red-orange (the best color ever) as the dominant hue.

Creation of a Color Wheel

Another Color Workshop assignment this week was to create a 12-step color wheel using Color-Aid paper. The process was pretty simple…first I traced a cd on some scrap paper, cut it out and folded it into 12 sections. I cut out one section to use as a template for cutting the Color-Aid. I then rubber cemented all the segments within a circle on some bristol. Using the cd as a guide, I cut the finished wheel so it would have a crisp edge.

Here is the process in pictures for those who don’t like to read: