The Art of Color
“Color is life, for a world without color seems dead. As a flame produces light, light produces color. As intonation lends color to the spoken word, color lends spiritually realized sound to a form. “– Johannes Itten
Johannes Itten’s famed book “The Art of Color” was a terrific find at the Westport , CT Library Annual Book Sale. Itten, an educator,painter, and craftsman, spent his whole life studying color theory and its inherent problems as a research scientist. Itten’s color theory described in the “ Art of Color” synthesizes the practical knowledge of a great painter and the experience of a progressive educator.
I really appreciated Itten’s theoretical approach to understanding subjective feelings and objective color principles as described and clarified in numerous color reproductions such as his color circle and the seven color contrasts. As an inveterate educator, he has placed his color theory exercises through-out the book followed by reproductions of paintings by the masters to offer insights into the development of Western painting from the Middle Ages through Picasso and as examples of the artists’ use of color.
According to Itten, the goal of color theory for the creative artist lies in the composition which juxtaposes two or more colors in such as way to create distinct, harmonious and distinctive expression .
As an artist who truly enjoys using a lot of colors, I really found Itten’s book fascinating and a worthwhile resource.
Not only is it helpful with painting but also with my other creative endeavors involving color, such as: selection and placement of plants in my garden so the area pops with expression, and designing and selecting fibers for my needlepoint projects so that the end result will be distinctive. As an imaginative person, I have numerous creative pursuits which nourish my soul. Needlepoint is a life-long passion which I enjoy when traveling, watching TV, sitting in my investment club meetings, or enjoying time with my friends. I take great pleasure in planning the design, but even more pleasure in planning color notes. A friend commissioned me to design, stitch and personalize seat cushions for her two new grandchildren. In their family, each grandchild is given a baby rocker personalized with their name and birthday. What an honor to be part of such a longstanding tradition! For her grandson, I designed a little boy fishing, a family favorite, and for the grand-daughter I designed a little girl reading and surrounded by books, another favorite family past-time.
One of my favorite passages from Robert Henri in “ The Art Spirit”
“In my understanding of color, there is absolutely no such thing as color for color’s sake. Colors are beautiful when they are significant. Lines are beautiful when they are significant. It is what they signify that is so beautiful to us, really. The color is the means of expression. The reason that a certain color in life, like the red in a young girl’s cheek, is beautiful, is that it manifests youth, health; in another sense, that it manifests her sensibility.” – Robert Henri