Color Nerd Musings
As has already been established, I can get really nerdy when it comes to color theory. Depending on what mood I’m in, I can also get very witchy when it comes to color. Color Theory and Perception is both art and science. It is something that I have studied and experimented in for many many years, and in my color journey I am constantly running into phenomenons that feel like a surprising and unexplainable trick of physics and perception, and a little bit of magic.
I learn something new every time I mix colors together. My eyes play tricks on me. The art of it feels completely boundless and connected and visually stunning and process-oriented. When mixing color, all roads lead back to the this truth: Anything and everything is possible. I mix intention deeply into my color concoctions because the act of it feels like prayer itself. This feels like Witchcraft.
I remember being a kid and watching the show of color and lights like fireworks behind my eyelids as I tried to fall asleep at night. It would keep me up for hours and I wondered how I was supposed to sleep with such a great show going on. I remember learning about the color wheel in beauty school, and how opposing colors, called complimentary colors, balance each other out.
We were tasked to memorize and understand how to determine which colors were complimentary, and I remember thinking easy! When I look at a color, and close my eyes, its complimentary color is the first color to flash behind my eyelids, clear and bright as the sun. I never had to use the color wheel, really. The knowledge was so intuitive. This knowledge felt like a special power. A super human power. Color vision.
Some of us may have the color vision genes of a bumblebee and see a million shades where another person might just see one. Color is intangible, visual, relative, limitless, ever-changing.
Color Theory with Color Warlock and Fine Art Landscape Painter Dave McGranaghan
A few weeks back, ( a particularly gray week ) I walked down to Greenlake with Jonny and the kids. It was a Sunday afternoon, and the sun was breaking through diffused clouds, sending sideways golden early-evening light across the gray-green lake.
As we walked the path around the lake, we stopped to watch a man paint on an easel. I had seen him many times before on walks at the lake, always stopping to admire his work.
I loved how his paintings really capture the color and light of this lake I grew up at. I have seen many painters paint this lake, but his paintings do it the most justice. As I studied his paintings a bit deeper, I marveled at his use of color was so surprising in capturing a scene that is truly green and surrounded by lush greenery all year long.
How was it possible that he used so much yellow and purple and pink and orange to communicate something so green?
His name was David McGranaghan, It turns out. And he is true warlock of color.
As my kids jumped in a pile of sand and Jonny scoped out the gender non-binary brass band playing Madonna songs to a crowd of walkers down the way, I got my mind blown on color theory by this warlock.
My brain is as pregnant as my body, so please forgive me for not explaining these lessons in great detail myself……Take these words directly from the artist! (You may need to be a fellow color nerd to understand the following lessons…….But maybe not. Read on and see what you can learn.)
I will put it simply: First off, the RGB/CMY Color Wheel is the truth, more accurate than the standard Red/Yellow/ Blue primary wheel. Most of us learn the standard R/Y/B but it is only because that standard was made before there was near as much understanding of color as there is today. So shift your color perception 30% if you learned the old standard.
Still with me?
Purple/ Green Mystery
This one has always confused and dazzled me. Why do I sometimes look at the color green and see purple? What is this Witchcraft? Am I colorblind or just so over-color-saturated in my vision that colors start to become each other?
David explains it here. Blew my damn mind to know that there is a explanation for this miracle.
Mind blown yet?
Lastly, magenta. Still largely unsolved. David says the reason I haven’t succeeded in mixing it from primary colors is because (as we just learned) it is itself a primary color. So it’s impossible to mix out of other colors. It is a holy grail color, a Klondike color, a color we can try our whole lives to achieve but never quite reach it.
I believe you David. That by the rules of the modern color wheel, it is impossible to mix magenta. But, as I have recognized is a fundamental trait of my personality and soul, I cannot accept that as final answer. Because I love magenta and I want to conquer it and I cling to my belief because I want to keep believing that when it comes to color, anything is possible. I will continue to try until I crack the code. And my guess is that the answer lies in some magical rule of perception mixed with a little bit of red, a little blue, a little yellow, a little mystery, and a little witchcraft.
Click over for more lessons from David here, and if you are looking to adorn your home with fine art and support local artists, buy a painting to illuminate your space. He is a true master.
My lessons with David inspired me to go home and paint hair in layers and layers of different colors.
Environmentally Responsive Hair Color
On another color nerd note- Yep. You heard me right. Hair Color that changes with temperature is now a thing, and it is science, art and witchcraft. Stumbled upon this shortly after my color theory lesson. My mind Is blown again. Read on through this link and see videos of the miracle in action. It is called ‘Fire’ and created by The Unseen Alchemist Laura Bouker.
Inspired by occult glamour – a spell cast on somebody to make them see something the spell-caster wishes them to see, T H E U N S E E N have developed the world’s first colour changing hair dye. The F I R E dye is responsive to you and your environment by changing colour to passing temperature fluctuations. Available in multiple colour ranges from bright red to subtle pastels, launching at London Fashion Week in collaboration with Storm Models. The application of the dye is currently semi-permanent lasting over a few washes and the brand are currently looking for commercial partners to help take the innovation to market.
This concludes my monthly musings on color. Oh wait! One more thing. Visited my Grandma Suzi and took this picture that illustrates her eternally pink and green life.
Sending out love and hope for the true colors to shine in all of us.