Nice Hat You’re wearing.

That statement is a compliment—praise, approval, kudos, etc. Blue and orange, violet and yellow, red and green—they are complements. In traditional color theory it is considered that they make a balance. Think of the color wheel with a pencil going through a hole in the center. When the colors on opposite sides of the color wheel are weighted the same, the wheel stays in balance. (Not wholly scientific, but a good visual.)

Complementary colors are not necessarily colors that “look good together”, although they usually do. They are colors that can cancel each other out. When each color/hue of the same value and saturation are mixed with each other, they create a neutral. Conversely, when placed next to each other, the cones in the retina are stimulated equally by the light waves from complementary colors making it difficult to focus on them at the same time causing the optical effect of vibration. (This is actually much more complex than I’m describing, but for our purposes, it’s enough.) You can use this reaction to manipulate the effect of your visual message, to draw attention to different parts of the composition or to create bold, vibrant pictures. In short, complementary colors make things “pop”.

Color theory is extremely complex and not necessary to understand. But it’s handy to know the effects color can have if you haven’t truly played around with its interactions before.

Josef Albers (the pioneer of understanding color interaction): “In order to use color effectively it is necessary to recognize that color deceives continually. To this end, the beginning is not a study of color systems. “

[Interaction of Color and our class] “…places practice before theory, which after all, is the conclusion of practice. … Just as the knowledge of acoustics does not make one musical — neither on the productive nor on the appreciative side — so no color system by itself can develop one’s sensitivity for color.”.

From Pantonne: Color is light and light is energy. Scientists have found that actual physiological changes take place in human beings when they are exposed to certain colors. Colors can stimulate, excite, depress, tranquilize, increase appetite and create a feeling of warmth or coolness. This is known as chromodynamics.

So we continue to play with color—this time using a complementary color scheme. Bring your ideas for a subject or come early enough to find one in the studio.

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