Color and Beyond

Color and Beyond
When one becomes serious about their art, they usually begin to become curious about the uses and properties of color. As a teacher, I have studied many instructional books and articles for numerous years and have used one work consistently as a reference; not just to keep the facts fresh in my own mind, but for students to read and study.

"Color - Thoughts and Theory" by Ann Kingslan, MT is, in my opinion, one of the best boks available on this subject. This book has been a standard of color knowledge since it was published (my copy has a copyright date of 1980 and is well worn).

Ms. Kingslan is a Master Teacher, a title earned through strenuous work, many hours spent as a teacher of Tole and Decorative Painting and testing by the National Society of Tole and Decorative Painters. She presents the information in the book by explaining the composition (pictured on the cover and inside in detail). She created this painting to exemplify the many diverse elements that go into moving from a mere painting to a work of art. Each bit of the cover painting is also shown being painted in steps so it is easy to see every little detail of what accomplishes this goal.

At the outset, the author discusses how to begin a work and discusses the way organize your approach by setting a goal, making your painting have unity and variety through cool vs. warm colors, curved and straight lines, etc.

There are many black and white pencil drawings that show how to use value to create form. She makes it very clear how to consider the light source and shading to make 3 dimensional shapes pop off of the surface. She explains line, space, and texture before tackling color.

She begins with the color section by giving a synopsis of the psychology of color and continues with discussion of primary, secondary and tertiary colors.

Ms. Kingslan does an excellent job of explaining hue, beginning with "the name of the color's family". Following, she continues with equally clear explainations through value, intensity, temperature and the chemistry of color. All are equally informative and easy to understand, and I am very glad I have the book to be able to re-read to refresh my mind with the deep well of information contained therein.

How to use color schemes is sooooo important to planning your work that it cannot be ignored or taken lightly. Understanding how to select the color scheme that suits your composition and goal will help with that move to a work of art. Of course, each of the color schemes is dealt with in the same simple but professional air as the rest of this book. You will learn about the monochromatic, analagous, complementary, triadic, split-complementary, double-split complementary and polychromatic.

This doesn't quite touch on all of the information in the "Book One" section and there are two more sections (called Books) to go.

"Book Two" is about Application: Ms. Kingslan covers making a quite comprehensive Intensity Color Wheel and includes a full color picture of the one she is talking about. This section alone is worth the price of the book to me. I learned more about how to mix colors and how to make them behave by using this book than by anything else I read about color. One quick example: we all know that blue and yellow make green. But do you also know that BLACK and yellow make green? Well, they do and this could be a problem if you need a deep value of yellow for your subject. Using black will not do the job. Ms. Kingslan explains how to accomplish your goal by using complementary colors and where this type of toning of color is the most effective approach.

In "Book Three" the vegetable cupboard on the cover is tackled. As is common in Tole and Decorative Painting, you are instructed to trace the composition onto your painting surface. If you like Tole painting and want to do this, it is probably the best way to learn the principles she will be covering. If you are an artist who prefers to do their own drawings, it would be my opinion that you can certainly make that change. Personally, I began my training as a Tole and Decorative Painter and have always felt that when working with a teacher it is best to do exactly as they instruct so I can learn what they are trying to teach me. When the exercise is over, I can take what I have learned and apply it to my own compositions because I understand the lesson.

The instruction is clear and concise and each element of the subject painting is covered in detail so you can follow the steps necessary to make a truly realistic work of art. These lessons provide you with easy to follow instructions that will leave you with a thorough understanding of just what goes into planning and executing a work of art, how to use the many properties of color and how to create form using value.

Although the book is out of print, you can have your own copy in the form of an ebook by going to Ms. Kingsland's website with this link:
Color - Thoughts and Theory

This is a book well worth reading and the price is right, too! In 1980 I paid $ 8.95 and it is only $ 11.95 on the website. What a deal!!

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Happy reading!
Paula Devore
Painting Editor

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