I love colour - my family always seem to think of me when they see something bright or multi-colored! I love using colour in my art but never really thought too deeply into it because, to be really honest, colour theory and such just felt like a science which would over complicate things or a set of rules which would end up becoming limiting.
Recently, however, I read a book which had a short section on colour theory. It piqued my interest and made me want to learn more - the colour wheel, colour harmonies and the mixing of complementary colours to get neutrals were all things I didn’t know much (if anything) about. Previously I’ve always mixed colours with little understanding how the different hues interacted - possibly the reason why I’ve always had problems with mixing colours efficiently.
I went to the library and scoured their ‘stack’ section (read: really old books no-one’s borrowed since the 1950’s) for books on colour theory. I found ‘Colour harmony: its theory and practice’ by Arthur Allen - this book (which is from 1937) was so interesting to read through! It covered all sorts of areas, from how our eyes are constructed, to how to mix paints for the desired outcome, why certain colours work well together, how to effectively use colour harmonies, even things like the fact that tree bark reflects the ground it’s stood on (I’ve always struggled to paint trees which look natural and now I hopefully know why!).
I’m waiting for ‘Interaction of Color’ by Josef Albers to come into the library, as I see from reviews that it’s considered quite a good book. (I did also borrow another 1930’s book on colour theory, but it was rubbish…)
Edit: I got 'Interaction of Color' from the library - personally I didn't like it and didn't find it useful for my needs, but others have liked it judging from the online reviews so it could just be that it doesn't suit what I was looking for!
Although I’ve been trying to push my use of colour recently, I am now thinking about my artwork in a different way; I’m thinking more about how colours work together, how I can use colours to their full potential and how colour influences the viewer. I wish I’d looked into colour theory before - far from being a pretentious label, it’s actually a really useful tool which I hope is only going to improve my work. It’s a shame I was never taught about it in school, but these things all come along at the right time and it’s only really the last couple of years in which I’ve been taking my art more seriously and actively trying to improve. Now, when I plan and execute a piece, I’m going to think more about colour harmonies etc., instead of just picking the ‘right’ colours or picking them for superficial reasons.
So lesson learnt; don’t discount an idea out of hand just because I don’t understand it! Everything has it’s place and increased knowledge of the theories and techniques I like and don’t like can only be a good thing
Do you have any particular colours or combinations you like to use? Maybe you can recommend a good resource which I can use to learn more about colour theory? Let me know!
Art resources I've found useful: Art Resources