Monday, January 19, 2009

It's Really Not About Color

If you have assumed that good art was about using the "right" color combinations, you were
kind of on the right track. I say "kind of" because color can be very misleading when we believe that all that's necessary is to learn how to use a color wheel correctly.

Color is important, of course, but even more important is value. You could have the perfect color combination but if you did not have a range of values, the composition would not work. Value is probably one of the most important design elements, and possibly the most difficult to grasp.

Things were easier before our world became so colorful. Ansel Adams taught us the Zone System, and along with it, the concept of seeing a full range of values from the blackest black to the whitest white. Once color photography replaced black and white, we forgot about value.

Fortunately, there are two shortcuts. You will be amazed how much improved your art will be if you use either to work in a full range of values! Find and purchase a value-viewer (I got mine from a painting teacher years ago). When you look through the red film, color is seen as a range of black to white tones. Or, print your work as a black and white copy. Is there a full range of