Theories of Colour (2011)

National Art School, Sydney



 

NOTE: If you are having trouble opening the zip files on a Mac:

(1) they're also available on this link, but you'll need to email me to get your name on the door.

https://sites.google.com/site/colourpdfs/

(2) instead, if you are a Mac user you may just need to download a piece of software that opens archives. The one you probably want is the free version of Stuffit :

http://www.stuffit.com/mac-expander.html


Lecture  One: The Dimensions of Colour

A pdf of the slides from Lecture 1 can be downloaded under "Attachments" below, in the form of a zip file, which can be opened using free software on both Windows and Mac computers) To unzip use the password I gave you in the lecture.

You might also like to take a bit of a look around my Dimensions of Colour site.  I'd especially recommend these two pages to reinforce the material we covered in the first lecture:

http://www.huevaluechroma.com/011.php

http://www.huevaluechroma.com/012.php

And if you want to do some more reading, or to practice the hue-value-chroma exercise that we did in class,  ask at the library desk for the Munsell student colour set, on (secret) reserve.

Long, Jim and Luke, Joy Turner, 2001. The new Munsell student color set; second edition. New York, Fairchild Publications, Inc.


Lecture  Two: Colour before Newton

A pdf of the slides from Lecture 2 can be downloaded under "Attachments" below, in the form of a zip file. To unzip use the password I gave you in the lecture.

For more information on the history of colour order systems that is the subject of lectures 2 to 4, I recommend:

  • Chapter VI and VII in Kemp, Martin, 1990. The science of art : optical themes in Western art from Brunelleschi to Seurat. New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Press.
  • Chapter one, two and nine of Gage, John, 1993. Colour and culture : practice and meaning from antiquity to abstraction. [London] : Thames and Hudson.
Both are available on short loan from your library.



Lecture  Three: The contribution of Newton

A pdf of the slides from Lecture 3 can be downloaded under "Attachments" below, in the form of a zip file. To unzip use the password I gave you in the lecture. I've added some extra slides to explain things as clearly as possible, so please look at them, especially if you are having any difficulties.

For optional (but very good) extra reading, see the references under Lecture Two.

If you would like to download your own copies of Newton's works, you can get them here:

Newton,  Isaac, 1672. New Theory About Light and Colour,  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
http://www.boscarol.com/wikipdf/newtheory.pdf

Newton,  Isaac, 1704. Opticks, A Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflextions and Colours of Lights.  London.
http://www.rarebookroom.org/Control/nwtopt/index.html [page images, 1st edn, 1704]
http://books.google.com/books?id=GnAFAAAAQAAJ [pdf, 4th edn, 1730]

Newton's Scientific Papers (The Newton Project)
http://www.newtonproject.sussex.ac.uk/prism.php?id=45

Footprints of the Lion (Cambridge University)
http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/exhibitions/Footprints_of_the_Lion/index.html [pdf catalogue, downloadable in sections, of an exhibition of Newton's notebooks]

You may also like to watch Newton: The Dark Heretic (BBC, 60 minutes), a documentary that emphasizes pretty much everything about Newton that might seem weird today.

Newton: The Dark Heretic



Lecture  Four: The primary colours after Newton

A pdf of the slides from Lecture 4 can be downloaded under "Attachments" below, in the form of a zip file. To unzip use the password I gave you in the lecture. I've added some extra slides to explain things as clearly as possible, so please look at them, especially if you are having any difficulties. I've left out the slides on opponency and Hering - we'll start next lecture with a less rushed account of these.

For anyone wanting to read a bit more about the history of our understanding of colour vision, I strongly recommend John Mollon's excellent summary, available as a free pdf from his website. The first part of this paper is especially relevant to this and next week's lecture.

http://vision.psychol.cam.ac.uk/jdmollon/papers/MollonColorScience.pdf




Lecture  Five: Colour vision today

A pdf of the slides from Lecture 5 can be downloaded under "Attachments" below. Please read these carefully, especially the added slide summarizing the history of the opponent and zone models of colour vision.

This is the book on human vision and its relationship to painting that I passed around in the lecture (not in the NAS library, but in many local libraries) :

Livingstone, Margaret, 2008. Vision and art : the biology of seeing New York : Abrams.

These two articles from Scholarpedia are short, reliable, and excellent:

http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Color_vision
http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Retina

For more detail on human vision,  this is the best website I know of:

http://webvision.med.utah.edu/



Lecture  Six: Colour constancy

Your girlfriend is an optical illusion ‎‎(1 min 24 sec)‎‎


A pdf of the slides from Lecture 6 can be downloaded under "Attachments" below.

Here are some web presentations by two of the leading researchers into colour constancy:

Illusions of light (R. Beau Lotto)

http://www.lottolab.org/articles/illusionsoflight.asp

Illusions and Demos (Edward Adelson):

http://web.mit.edu/persci/people/adelson/illusions_demos.html



Lecture  Seven: Contrast and Assimilation

A pdf of the slides from Lecture 7 can be downloaded under "Attachments" below or on the page of unzipped pdfs here.

Here are two more optical illusion sites with some excellent examples of contrast and assimilation phenomena:

Akiyoshi's Illusion Pages (Akiyoshi Kitaoka)

http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akitaoka/index-e.html

86 Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena (Michael Bach):

http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/



Lecture  Eight: Hue systems for artists

A pdf of the slides from Lecture 8 can be downloaded under "Attachments" below or on the page of unzipped pdfs here.

I will put the last few slides (on colour spaces for artists) with a few additions into next weeks lecture on light for painters.


Lecture  Nine: Light and colour


A pdf of the slides from Lecture 9 can be downloaded under "Attachments" below or on the page of unzipped pdfs here.


Lecture  Ten: Colour in painting practice I - Antiquity to Medieval


A pdf of the slides from Lecture 10 can be downloaded under "Attachments" below or on the page of unzipped pdfs here.

There are many Fayum portraits here:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fayum_mummy_portraits


Lecture  Eleven: Colour in painting practice II - Medieval to Renaissance


A pdf of the slides from Lecture 11 can be downloaded as a zip file under "Attachments" below, or on the page of unzipped pdfs here.

Below are the links for the complete texts discussed in class. Remember that these are provided only for interest; for the assessment you only need to study the extracts included on the lecture slides:

Eraclius, 12th-13th c..   De Coloribus et Artibus Romanorum — (translated Mary Philadelphia Merrifield, 1849) IN: Original Treatises, Dating from the XIIth to the XVIIIth Centuries, [o]n the Arts of Painting ...  (includes a detailed discussion of medieval pigments at the end of the introduction)
http://www.archive.org/details/originaltreatis00merrgoog

Theophilus, 12th c. Theophili, qui et Rugerus, presbyteri et monachi, libri III. de diversis artibus: seu, Diversarum artium schedula, (translated by Robert Hendrie, 1847). Published by J. Murray, 1847 (includes a detailed discussion of medieval pigments in the notes to Book 1)
http://www.archive.org/details/theophiliquietru00theouoft

Cennini, Cennino, 15th c. The book of the art of Cennino Cennini : a contemporary practical treatise on quattrocento painting (tr. Christiana Jane Powell Herringham, 1922)
http://www.archive.org/details/bookofartofcenni00cennuoft


Lecture  Twelve: Colour in painting practice III - Renaissance to Eighteenth Century


A pdf of the slides from Lecture 12 can be downloaded as a zip file under "Attachments" below, or on the page of unzipped pdfs here. A pdf of the Bardwell (1756) text on painting is also available below for download.

Some more original texts for optional reading:

Alberti, Leon Battista, 1435.  Della Pittura (On Painting)
Spencer. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1970 [First printed 1956].
http://www.noteaccess.com/Texts/Alberti/

Richter, Jean Paul. The literary works of Leonardo da Vinci (Volume 1 and 2).
http://www.archive.org/details/literaryworksofl01leonuoft
http://www.archive.org/details/literaryworksofl02leonuoft

Leonardo da Vinci. A treatise on painting (1835 translation byJohn Francis Rigaud).
http://www.archive.org/details/davincionpainting00leon

Highly recommended if you can find a copy:

Hall, Marcia, 1992. Color and meaning. Practice and theory in Renaissance painting. Cambridge University Press.

Finally, enjoy a virtual visit to the Sistine Chapel (use zoom controls on lower left):

http://www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/index.html


Painting with Bob Ross (3.5 min)


Lecture  Thirteen: Colour in painting practice IV - Nineteenth century


A pdf of the slides from Lecture 13 can be downloaded as a zip file under "Attachments" below, or on the page of unzipped pdfs here.

Lecture  Fourteen: Colour in painting practice V - Twentieth century


A pdf of the slides from Lecture 14 can be downloaded as a zip file under "Attachments" below, or on the page of unzipped pdfs here.

Two good sites for detailed information on pigments:

The Color of Art: Pigments (David Myers)
http://www.artiscreation.com/Color_index_names.html

 Handprint guide to watercolor pigments (Bruce MacEvoy)
http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/waterfs.html

And Dick Blick has great images and information on consituent pigments for most major paint ranges. For example, click on any of the suppliers listed under "Artist's Oil Colors", scroll down, and click on the code beside any colour. Don't miss the "Pigment Info" tab.

http://www.dickblick.com/categories/oilpainting/

For digital painting, a great starting point is the large range of tutorials posted on Youtube by Feng Zhu:

http://www.youtube.com/user/FZDSCHOOL
 

ASSESSMENT 1: Glossary

READ CAREFULLY: For each each of your ten glossary entries, provide an original illustration, and explain the term in your own words. Mention any relevant alternative meanings, differentiate any concepts that are related, or with which it might be confused, and  discuss concisely the historical development of the concept. Explain your diagram with a caption. Reference your sources appropriately.  Wherever possible integrate information from several of the lectures (and so be prepared to add information from future lectures).

Do not duplicate: if a point or illustration is relevant to more than one entry, cross-reference (but every entry must have an illustration).

1. Hues, unique:  Suggested illustration - create paint mixtures that for you represent each of the four unique hues, and arrange in opponent pairs.

2. Complementary, pigment-mixing: Suggested illustration - create pairs of pigment mixtures that mix to make a perfect neutral grey with each of the main paints that you use, and illustrate the mixing of each pair.

3. Complementaries, additive. Suggested illustration - create at least three pairs of paint mixtures that are true additive complementaries.

4. Lightness: Suggested illustration - paint a lightness scale in uniform steps (9 steps including black and white recommended)

5. Chroma:  Suggested illustration - try painting a scale of uniform chroma steps of fixed hue and lightness.

6. Mixing an accurate shading series using black paint (explain procedure using  illustrations, including step-by step photographs of actual paint mixtures as well as diagrams showing intended mixing paths.

Plus any four terms of your own choice, possibly including:

"Artist's colour wheel" (i.e the naive red-yellow-blue hue circle); colour sphere; simultaneous contrast; afterimages; assimilation; object colour constancy; subtractive mixing, "muddy" colour (suggestion: show the same colour looking "muddy in one image but not in another); the scale of "brilliance".

llustrations for terms 1-6 need to be done in physical paint (any physical medium); the remainder can be done either in paint or in Photoshop. [If you have absolutely no interest in painting, and swear that you will never take a job that involves teaching someone else to paint, then we can negotiate a alternative for terms 1-6].


ASSESSMENT 2: Colour systems in painting practice

Explain with illustrations ONE of the following systems in detail, briefly discuss its historical significance, and compare it with the results of other painting systems:

Theophilus' colour modeling system for draperies;

Theophilus' colour modeling system for flesh;

Cennini's colour modeling system for draperies;

Cennini's colour modeling system for flesh;

Thomas Bardwell's colour modeling system for flesh.

Explain your chosen system clearly and concisely in your own words. Do not just paraphrase the instructions, but explain the operation and consequences of the system.  If there are multiple recipes (e.g. by Theophilus on drapery), try to sum up the common strategy, and any important variations. Ask yourself what are the consequences of this strategy and its variations in terms of colour relationships, and explain those relationships in terms of defined dimensions of colour, such as hue, value and chroma.

For example, if you had been asked to discuss the system of Eraclius, part of your answer might read:   "The colour modeling recipes of Eraclius are highly varied with respect to the colour relationships they would create, so that it is unlikely that the system could produce as unified a "look" as that of, say, Cennini. Some of the varied effects include:

1. Hue similar from dark to light; chroma highest in shadows, lower in mid-tones; lights white (somewhat like Cennini): e. g. "Mix green with white, shade with green; lay on the lights with white".

2. Hue similar from dark to light; black in shadows, moderate chroma in mid-tones, high chroma in lights: e.g. "mix brunum with minium, shade with black; and lay on the lights with minium"

3. Arbitrary change in hue from dark to light (somewhat like cangiante of Cennini): e.g. "Shade brunum with black; lay on lights with azure ...."

You only need to use the extracts of the historic texts provided in the lecture slides for your answer; examine the full texts only if you want to.

You must prepare illustrations for the system you choose to describe. Use photographs to record the sequence of steps in your chosen system. You may obtain illustrations for the other systems for comparison from other members of the class, but these illustrations must be properly integrated into your own written account, and you must credit the creator of each illustration that you use. Examples of the sort of illustrations you could include would be photographs of the stages in paining:

1. Two or more draperies, or a face painted to demonstrate the rules of Theophilus.

2. Two or more draperies, painted to demonstrate Cennini-style colouring in one hue and  in changing hue, or a face painted to demonstrate Cennini-style flesh colouring.

3. A portrait (face) painting, or detail thereof, using the system of Thomas Bardwell.





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djcbriggs,
Jun 3, 2011, 7:44 AM
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