Friday, February 22, 2008

off the charts

Last week, I started a "water media" class at the art center nearby. For our first assignment, we were to work with 6 shades of gouache and create a convenient, easy-to-use color chart. Predictably, I got home and decided to work with 18 shades of gouache and create a ridiculous, cumbersome color chart.

color chart

As usual, something that should have been a relatively quick and easy task has morphed into a time- and labor-intensive ordeal. I'm not complaining. In fact I like it this way. I've suddenly found hours to spend drinking espresso and indulging my latent inner tortured artist.

This mindless task has given me a lot to think about--namely the totally unpredictable results of color combinations. The more time I spend staring at this masterpiece of organization, the more bizarre my color theories become. I think that there's more to this than light and dark values, complements and intermediates. There is something like a color's assertiveness.

I have also been thinking about Victoria Finlay's Color: a Natural History of the Palette. I don't think that the author emphasizes it enough, but what is "interesting" about these color histories is that they are so irrelevant now. I could go to any supply store and buy "cadmium yellow" in virtually any medium and feel relatively certain that it would look the same as any other cadmium yellow at any other supply store. Color, which was once governed by politics, nature, economics etc has become so standardized that it actually seems worthwhile for me to spend hours meticulously painting color swatches.

No comments: