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Introduction to Painting and Color Theory

Color is so constantly in evidence in our daily lives that we are inclined to give it almost no conscious attention.

We merely accept it, as we do sunshine and shadow, failing not so much in our appreciation of its beauty as in a full realization of what an important part it plays in our daily lives.

To many of us it is a thing to admire consciously or openly only now and then, when particularly called to our attention, as in a sunset or a striking painting. Just as color interests and pleases us today, so it apparently affected primitive human beings.

At least, we have ample evidence of the constant use of pigments from the earliest known times.

The colorists in various fields have done their part by putting these pigments to all sorts of uses, seeking at the same time laws regarding their harmonious application.

In view of the united efforts of so many serious investigators over so long a period of time, the student entering upon any phase of color study usually expects to find the entire subject thoroughly understood and placed on a truly scientific basis, with exact laws determined, perhaps comparable to those of music.

But it is often a great surprise for them to learn that, although marked progress has been made in every department of color investigation, nature still withholds many of its secrets.

In fact, years may yet elapse before light itself and color vision, which permits us to see colors all about us (for color is only a matter of vision, as we shall explain more fully a bit later), are thoroughly understood.

Human beings, too, despite any claims to the contrary, progresses slowly in their attempts to discover definite and infallible laws regarding the concord employment of color in such pigment forms as paints, inks and dyes.

It is more than possible that such laws may never be found.

When you first come to a full realization of the fact that the employment of color is not a thing which you can learn to any great extent by rule that there are few precise and easily applied laws for your guidance you are quite sure to wonder just how you'll manage to make satisfactory progress.

Enough now to assure you that, despite this condition that seems in certain aspects a bit puzzling or chaotic (or will, at any rate, by the time the next few pages have been read), your path will by no means be as difficult as you might expect.

The links below will give you the background necessary for any serious approach to color study.

I have divided this discussion into small dosages, so that you can easily digest it... at your own pace.

Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez


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