BLUE SKIES SMILING AT ME

BLUE SKIES SMILING AT ME

Lapis lazuli block

The most famous of all color studies are by Johannes Itten in his book, The Art of Color, last printing 1969. My experience, my work, for the last forty years, in interior design, has proven that truth in color exists and persists in Itten’s studies. It doesn’t matter what type of environment, warm and cool colors affect the mood and physiology of a person as well as how an occupant feels in a room, an environment. Itten says in his book, it may seem strange to identify a sensation of temperature with the visual realm of color sensation.

Chartres Cathedral-Virgin and Child. French stained glass-early example c.1194, warm and cool colors juxtaposed.

However, experiments have demonstrated a difference of five to seven degrees in the subjective feeling of heat or cold between a room painted in blue-green and one painted in red-orange. That is, in the blue-green room the occupants felt that 59 degrees was cold, whereas in the red-orange room they did not feel cold until the temperature fell to 52-54 degrees. Objectively, this meant that blue-green slows down the circulation and red-orange stimulates it.

Similar results were obtained in an animal experiment. A racing stable was divided into two sections, the one painted blue, the other red-orange. In the blue section, horses soon quieted down after running, but in the red section they remained hot and restless. It was found that there were no flies in the blue section, and a great many in the red section.

Both experiments illustrate the pertinence of cold-warm contrast to color planning of interiors. The properties of cold and warm color are essential to color therapeutics in hospitals.

Lyonel Feininger “Sailing Boats” Overlapping triangles of color echo the sails of the boats creating a rhythmic pattern and sense of speed and space.

Blue is easy to live with, although not everyone looks good in blue. (Everyone looks good in turquoise) Fair-skinned folks with a pink pallor look good in blue. Blue is the color of the clear sky and the deep sea. Common connotations are Ice, water, sky, sadness, winter, police, royalty, Hanukkah, boys, cold, calm, magic, trueness,

Blue in the ancient world
Blue was a latecomer among colors used in art and decoration. Reds, blacks, browns, and ochres are found in cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic period, but not blue. Blue was also not used for dyeing fabric until long after red, ochre, pink and purple. This is probably due to the perennial difficulty of making good blue dyes and pigments. The earliest known blue dyes were made from plants –

Handspun wool dyed with woad

woad in Europe, indigo in Asia and Africa, while blue pigments were made from minerals, usually either lapis lazuli or azurite.

Lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone, has been mined in Afghanistan for more than three thousand years, and was exported to all parts of the ancient world. In Iran and Mesopotamia, it was used to make jewelry and vessels. In Egypt, it was used for the eyebrows on the funeral mask of King Tutankhamun (1341-1323 BC).

King Tut Mask with lapis lazuli eyebrows

Blue is the color of light between violet and green on the visible spectrum. Hues of blue include indigo and ultramarine, closer to violet; pure blue, without any mixture of other colors; Cyan, which is midway on the spectrum between blue and green, and the other blue-greens turquoise, teal, and aquamarine.

Mark Hampton’s blue and white dining room with Portuguese tiles on walls and painted look-alike on cornice and ceiling by painter Robert Jackson

Blues also vary in shade or tint; darker shades of blue contain black or grey, while lighter tints contain white. Darker shades of blue include ultramarine, cobalt blue, navy blue, and Prussian blue; while lighter tints include sky blue, azure, and Egyptian blue (For a more complete list see the List of colors).

The cost of importing lapis lazuli by caravan across the desert from Afghanistan to Egypt was extremely high. Beginning in about 2500 BC, the ancient Egyptians began to produce their own blue pigment known as Egyptian blue, made by grinding silica, lime, copper and alkalai, and heating it to 800 or 900 degrees C. This is considered the first synthetic pigment. Egyptian blue was used to paint wood, papyrus and canvas, and was used to color a glaze to make faiencebeads, inlays, and pots.

Sunflowers in blue vase

It was particularly used in funeral statuary and figurines and in tomb paintings. Blue was a considered a beneficial color which would protect the dead against evil in the afterlife. Blue dye was also used to color the cloth in which mummies were wrapped.

In Egypt, blue was associated with the sky and with divinity. The Egyptian god Amun could make his skin blue so that he could fly, invisible, across the sky. Blue could also protect against evil; many people around the Mediterranean still wear a blue amulet, representing the eye of God, to protect them from misfortune.

Blue glass was manufactured in Mesopotamia and Egypt as early as 2500 BC, using the same copper ingredients as Egyptian blue pigment. They also added cobalt, which produced a deeper blue, the same blue produced in the Middle Ages in the stained glass windows of the cathedrals of Saint-Denis and Chartres.

The Greeks imported indigo dye from India, calling it indikon. They used Egyptian blue in the wall paintings of Knossos, in Crete, (2100 BC). It was not one of the four primary colors for Greek painting described by Pliny the Elder (red, yellow, black and white), but nonetheless it was used as a background color behind the friezes on Greek temples and to color the beards of Greek statues.

The Romans also imported indigo dye, but blue was the color of working class clothing; the nobles and rich wore white, black, red or violet. Blue was considered the color of mourning. It was also considered the color of barbarians; Julius Caesar reported that the Celts and Germans dyed their faces blue to frighten their enemies, and tinted their hair blue when they grew old.

Madison Beach, Connecticut

Artist: Bing Crosby
Song Title: Blue Skies
Writer(s): Conti, Federico/Brew,Ginger

Blue skies smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds all day long

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you’re in love, my, how they fly

Blue days, all of them gone
Nothing but blue skies from now on

Blue Serenity

(Blue skies smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies do I see)

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you’re in love, my, how they fly

Blue days, all of them gone
Nothing but blue skies from now on
Nothing but blue skies from now on

Tough guy image for my writer friends.

Who knows the tune? It may be available for your phone’s ring tone, if you know how to get it.

Do you like blue? Do you wish you could wear blue? Who is this dude with the tough guy image surrounded with blue tones?

I will return Thursday, September 20th after vacation. Tell  you about it then.

THE COLOR PURPLE

THE COLOR PURPLE

Color circle superimposed on the spectral

It was the year AD 975 when the word ‘purple’ first appeared in the English language. Purple is a range of hues of color occurring between red and blue. In additive light combinations it occurs by mixing the primary colors red and blue in varying proportions. It is a secondary color because two colors (blue and red) make up this color.

In color theory, a ‘purple’ is defined as any non-spectral color between violet and red (excluding violet and red themselves).[2] The spectral colors violet and indigoare not purples according to color theory but they are purples according to common English usage since they are between red and blue.

Icon for the color purple

In art, purple is the color on the color wheel between magenta and violet and its tints and shades. This color, electric purple, is shown as an icon.

In human color psychology, purple is associated with royalty and nobility stemming from classical antiquity when Tyrian purple was only affordable to the elites. The Tyrian purple was derived from the secretion of a sea snail and only in meager amounts, enough to dye only the trim of a garment worn for ritual purposes. In nature the snails use the secretion as part of their predatory behavior and as an antimicrobial lining on egg masses. The snail also secretes this substance when it is poked or physically attacked by humans. Therefore the dye can be collected either by “milking” the snails, which is more labor intensive but is a renewable resource, or by collecting and then crushing the snails completely.

Mark Rothko yellow & purple

Common connotations of purple include royalty, imperialism, nobility, Lent, Easter, Mardi Gras. Let’s remember too, that the complement to purple is that famous “yellow.”

One interesting psychophysical feature of purple and violet that can be used to separate them is their appearance with increasing light intensity. As the intensity increases, violet appears to take on a far more blue hue as a result of what is known as the Bezold-Brücke shift. The same increase in blueness is not noted in purples.

Purple living room

Lüscher says about violet, The mentally mature will normally prefer one of the basic colors rather than violet. Basic being red, blue and yellow. The mentally and emotionally immature on the other hand, may prefer violet. He goes on to say, in the case of 1600 pre-adolescent school children, 75% preferred violet. Statistics embracing Iranians, Africans and Brazilian Indians showed a marked preference for this color as compared with Euro-Caucasians.

Dining room in purple

Through my years in design, I have found that this statement is more cultural than emotional. In my old standby text, Interior Design and Decoration by Sherrill Whiton, in Psychology of Color, Psychologists maintain that color preferences are determined by geographical location, religion and socioeconomic background.

What are your thoughts on the color purple? Do you surround yourself with purple? Do you wear purple?

Purple hair – give yourself a treat

Would you like purple hair, or a streak of purple hair?

WHITE – A PRACTICAL SOLUTION?

WHITE – A PRACTICAL SOLUTION?

Ingres’ Bather of Valpinςon

White can be blinding. White can disrupt your thinking. White can be tiresome. According to Faber Birren’s book “Color & Human Response,” white can be bleak, emotionless, sterile. K. Warner Schaie, in discussing the pyramid test in which wide assortments of colors are placed on black-and-white charts, noted that incidence of the use of white by schizophrenic patients was 76.6 percent as again 29.1 percent for supposedly normal persons. So anyone who places white first perhaps needs psychiatric attention. It would be better to dislike white, but here again few persons are encountered who so express themselves.

Ingres’ Bather of Valpinςon is the calm representation of Classical beauty in the human nude. Notice the varying shades of white in Ingres’ painting. White and light colored skin is, depending on the artist, a few chosen pigments  and white. Notice the white covering over the settee, there are other colors in it. Can you see them? There are hundreds of variations of white.

Then when is white a practical solution?

Untitled by Franz Kline, a canvas  covered in white variations

White for the artist. For the watercolor artist, white paint is not necessary. I have never used white in my watercolors, because you can lighten your colors with water. And, you can leave the white of the paper in your painting for the white areas.  For the oil or acrylic painter, mix the white into color to lighten, or for pastel, add color to white.

Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?  It isn’t hard, but you need more information if you use white in more than one color. White can make mud out of your paint. Pastel painters have scads and scads and scads of color sticks as do oil painters who have gazillion tubes of paint from the lightest to the darkest in almost every color. So why do you need white? It’s possible to use white in your mixes, especially if you add white to lighten only one color. If you add white to more than one color, it can muddy up your work, the same as cadmium yellow can. We talked about cad yellow in last week’s blog with David Dunlop. More mixing meant less light bounced back to the eye and resulted in a weak color effect. Mixing opaque colors together is called subtractive mixing because it subtracts light. http://gailingis.com/wordpress/?p=2252.

Your intent was to lighten, but instead, it deadened. Deadened with

Sculpture in glass by Tony Cragg, All white sculpture, mixture of textures

opaque pigment. But it takes time to learn what makes beautiful mud. Yes, there is such a thing as beautiful mud. You always want your colors to be rich, to glow, to evoke emotion. To confuse the issue, white comes in several variations, some of which are: Flake White, Ivory White, Zinc White, Titanium White and the combo of Zinc White and Titanium White. The properties of these paints vary.

According to Ralph Mayer’s The Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques, Fifth Edition, Revised and Updated, titanium pigment has the greatest opacity and tinctorial power of any of the whites. Titanium is the most important opaque white pigment in current use. An extremely dense, powerful opaque white of high refractive index and great hiding power. Absolutely inert, permanent.  Flake White is stiff, and Ivory White is fluid, both are semi-opaque and good for touching-up and mixing. According to Winsor & Newton, Zinc is less opaque, making it ideal for tints and glazing, however, it dries to a brittle film that can crack.

White room, varied whites and mixture of textures

White for your home/office. The everlasting question to me as an interior designer is, “should I paint my kitchen white?” My answer is always, “NO.” Not pure white. If your preference is to make it look bright and clean and you think white is the answer, here’s mine. Paint your walls off-white, like Benjamin Moore’s 966 or 969 (I call them greige, 969 is the lighter of the two), or something with a little more pizzazz, like BM’s 860 that is in-between white and gray. The finish on the walls should be Eggshell finish. Ceiling, super white flat. All the trim can be a bright semi-gloss white. Now the room has that sparkle you are looking for and stays clean for years. And, you can have your white cabinets, but in Benjamin Moore’s Dove White. Never use pure white on a large expanse of space like the walls, cabinets, or floors. With these combinations, you have contrasting surfaces and varying textures giving your kitchen interest as well as beauty.

Can you see the correlation between white for art and white for the home? Did you discover the white you never knew? What does white mean to you?

 

 

YELLOW – A PRIMARY PIGMENT

YELLOW – A PRIMARY PIGMENT

Vincent Van Gogh “Starry Night”

David Dunlop has a unique approach to teach art. That’s probably because his studies about art have a unique approach. David told me that he researches, reads and visits venues with art exhibitions. He analyzes and figures out how artists of the past operated. That’s going back to caves, cultures, and creations throughout history.

Today’s speak is about the warm and cheerful color yellow, from an artist’s point of view (POV), rather than from the interior design POV. So let’s hear what David, the artist, has to say about the color yellow.

David Dunlop summer afternoon workshop Amblers Farm

By the way, every workshop David teaches consists of an hour lecture about art, mostly from the intellectual POV, followed by a small painting in support of his lecture. So much fun!

Yellow!

 

A color associated with Earth, as one of the four elements. Known to be the imperial color of the Kahns or the color of the light of Eden. Yellow as a pigment has history that varies in use from ancient Egyptian sulfur to synthetic 20th century translucent Hansa acrylic yellows.

A strong favorite of Turner, in the 19thcentury, was lead chromate or chrome yellow as well as the fugitive (fast fading) aureolin yellow. Turner also favored the translucent organic gamboge, from Cambodia, for its glazing ability. Winslow Homer, like Turner, had a preference for aureolin yellow for his watercolors.

David with his yellows. Could be gamboge or aureolin, both transparent.

yellow-orpiment-menk

The Renaissance painters relied on the toxic yellow orpiment made from poisonous arsenic because of its promise to imitate a golden effect, according to Cennino Cennini’s Book of Art (Libro Dell’Arte of 1396).

Popular with artists is the stable and abundant pale yellow ochre, mined from earthen deposits in France. At times, yellow ochre was mixed by Renaissance artists with expensive powdered gold to give golden highlights.

Cadmium yellow, opaque and potent, was first available to artists in the last quarter of the 1800s. Impressionists and neo-impressionists were crazy for it because it gave a strong yellow hue effect. If you like to apply the paint thick, pure and opaque like the Impressionists, cadmium yellow was made for you. The other new 19th century yellow was chrome yellow. It was brilliant when thinly applied to white ground, but it was fugitive.

Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo expressing concern about the permanence of the new vivid colors, but he concluded that maybe some fading would give a beneficial effect and help to soften and harmonize what he feared were overly strong colors. Chief among the strong new colors was the opaque cadmium yellow. Cadmium yellow was an odd color revealing itself as pure because it only reflected a very narrow slice of the visible spectrum. Cadmium yellow was great at absorbing all the other colors of light except for a pure yellow. This meant cadmium yellow appeared intense and rich. But if you mixed it with another color then the narrow slice of pure yellow collapsed and the beholder only would find a dull yellowish, greenish gray or a yellowish orange at best. At worst it became a light-sucking grayed brown. Yechhh!

Impressionist painters were determined to limit the mixing of cadmium yellow with white and as little else as possible. More mixing meant less light bounced back to the eye and resulted in a weak color effect. Mixing opaque colors together is called subtractive mixing because it subtracts light. Van Gogh applied his paint thick and often undiluted to insure the strongest color effect. Artists like Van Gogh might mix the cadmium yellow with white to give the color a quality of halation as seen in the painting example.

Unlike cadmium yellow, gamboge is a translucent color. When viewed as a thick glob of paint, it appears warm, not bright and with a tendency to list toward green unlike a glob of cadmium yellow. But when thinly applied to white ground it appears much more yellow. That’s how Turner used it. As light bounces off the white ground and back through the glaze of gamboge it brightens the sensation of yellow. The thinner the gamboge yellow, the greater the sensation of yellow. The thicker the gamboge yellow becomes, the less the sensation of yellow for the viewer.

Yellow light in News Stand-oil on anodized aluminum 24×48

Amateurs keep adding more yellow and wonder why they are getting a duller effect as they keep subtracting light by adding more pigment. In David’s second image, he offer a gamboge based yellow in varying degrees of thickness, providing varying degrees of yellow, applied to a white enamel anodized aluminum surface.

Yellow Flora in a Florida Marsh-oil on linen 36×36

In his third image, he uses gamboge on oil primed linen, the thinner he makes the glaze of yellow the brighter the yellow of the leaves appears to be. Hermann Von Helmholtz advised artists in order to generate the strongest sensation of spectral opposites in paint they should contrast yellow and blue paint.

Diagrammed image

In his diagrammed image, he has circled areas where he has engineered the blue to be set against the yellow of the leaves. This helps propel the yellow of the leaves toward the viewer.

Visit David’s website. There you will find his DVD’s, his lectures and his blog link. He is a busy artist. He gives of his time and talents to support a cross-section of venues.  http://www.daviddunlop.com.

Do you like to wear yellow? How has yellow touched your life? Did you know that the color yellow attracts bees? I don’t mean flowers, I mean like a yellow blouse or shirt? Have you ever worn something yellow to a picnic? Ouch!

CRAZY 4 COLOR

CRAZY 4 COLOR

Ugly green house

This could happen to you. Elsa and Bob chose what they thought would be the perfect color for the exterior of their house. They wanted green.The sample was one of those one-inch sizes, but just to be sure they liked the color, they got a larger sample, four inches. Perfect.

They left the job in the hands of a pro painter, and went on vacation. Have you figured out the end of the story? Returning, the limo dropped them off in front of a house. “This isn’t ours, do you have the right address?” Turns out this green house, lime green, or something similar, couldn’t be, but yes, it was theirs alright. The house was bright, really bright, green, of some kind, screaming. They rushed into the house and immediately called their pro painter.

Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue for porch ceiling & shutters, white house.

Wythe Blue, this time they chose a soft color, almost neutral, for the porch ceiling and shutters, enhanced with a Forest Green front door, together with a brilliant white for the house. Imagine this gorgeous porch behind those unsightly bushes.The bushes have to go, and with new landscaping the house will be handsome. And yes, their painter charged them. You don’t think he would repaint for free, did you? His time is valuable. This happens often. That’s why the paint companies make small jar samples. So you could paint one whole big surface for color practice. That’s one solution, but what you need to know is that those small samples don’t give you the whole truth. You see, color gets stronger and brighter as the area you are painting gets bigger.

This color is a really important subject. You can’t cover it with a couple of paragraphs, but I will give you some ideas that will enlighten you.

Area subdivisions are:
Dominant Areas: Walls, floor and ceiling.
Medium Areas: Draperies and large pieces of upholstered furniture, bed-covers, etc.
Small Areas: Small upholstered furniture, chair-seats, pillows, etc.
Accent: Piping, welting or fringes on draperies and upholstery, lamp-bases or shades, books, plants, flowers, etc.

There are fancy names for color schemes, like monochromatic, analogous and complementary.

You’ll need the color wheel as reference.

Itten color wheel

 

 


A color wheel or color circle is an abstract illustrative organization of color hues around a circle that shows relationships between primary colors, secondary colors, complementary colors, etc.

Monochromatic color scheme

Monochromatic Schemes:  One color in various shades and tonal values (light to dark). Using the subdivisions: The dominant areas (walls, floor and ceiling) of a room are different in tone, of the same color. This system has great unity, and great dignity, but has enough variety to maintain interest. Variety can be obtained by introducing changes both in tonal value and brightness (chromatic values). The brightest for throw pillows and accessories.

Complementary color scheme

Complementary Scheme: Opposite colors in the color wheel cover the dominant and medium areas. In this scheme a more agreeable harmony will be attained if each color is slightly tinged with another and the same color.  Such as red with some yellow as in russet, in combination with a green also slightly tinged with yellow as in green citron. If the red is on the blue side, as in red-mulberry, the green should also be on the blue side as in green-slate. The same should be applied to the other complementary schemes and the proper colors may be easily selected by reviewing the color wheel. Of course, remember your distribution as mentioned in subdivisions.

Mark Rothko Analogous painting

Analogous Scheme: Any three adjoining hues in a twelve color wheel, or any three of six adjoining colors in a wheel of twenty-four. To have the greatest unity in this scheme, limit the color of the wall to one color and repeat in small areas elsewhere. Remember your subdivisions and the distribution of tone and brightness.

Does this information give you some insight? What have you gained from this post? Are you inspired to do some coloring, in your house?

Edward Hopper painting – can you figure out which color scheme he used for this famous work?

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