Friday, March 20, 2015

Understanding the Power and Psychology of Colours, and Colour Application in painting

Colour is a sensitive aspect of painting; the psychology of colour makes you to understand that it is not just enough to apply colour to a drawing, but it calls for a sensitive mind to understand and use colours; this of course comes from training and a considerable period of practice. In fact during the course of training I came to understand why the artist is completely cut out from the rest of society. I have come to understand why the artist may appear even strange in the eyes of everyone else; it is in the same vein that the artist to my mind is the most observant of all ‘species’ of human beings. The artist is very sensitive to everything. As a matter of fact, I tend to notice everything that has to do with colour (harmony) and balance, be it in art or architecture, fashion, textile design, graphics, etc. 

Colour palette - coutesy:

Colour application, and sensitivity is freely encountered in the fleeting and permanent dialogues that ensue when pigments of various hues interact on the various mediums of expression in art and design, including also interior decoration and industrial design as well, etc. It is the nature of colours to react either harmoniously or otherwise in the course of mixing and eventual final application. Thus complementary colours will always blend and give you a sense of harmony and calmness. But when colours do not seem to match, they immediately will arouse a feeling of disharmony, riot or uneasiness and, what have you? Thus a combination of brown of umber, and ochre will readily blend into a calm earthy mood; but try juxtaposing a brilliant red with cadmium yellow, it is not exactly very complementary if you are out in search of true harmony. 

In painting for instance, my lecturer then, the late Gani Oduntokun always referred to how a flicker of orange brought home a sense of harmony and calmness when it is applied side by side or superimposed on a deep blue surface. It is just almost magical how these colours tend to behave – I mean they actually almost become animated as foreign colours and reflected (light) colours are employed in a dramatic interplay on canvas for instance. This is what distinguishes the work of the professional from the rest; a trait that tends to reveal a thorough understanding of the behaviour of colours.

Flatness and rawness of colour in painting are eliminated by the careful understanding and application of these principles. This is what gives life and beauty to art, fashion design, interior decoration, graphics, etc.

'The storm on the sea of Galilee' by Rembrandt

In choosing to apply colours however, a lot of factors come together to inform the choice of the artist or designer. So much of this could be temperamental – that is mood, or even philosophy, beliefs and even colour temperature of coolth and warmth, and personal attachment that may be yet hard to explain. My colleagues for a long time most often have continued to refer to me as ‘Mr. Blue’, and even going as far as identifying a particular hue of blue that is always present in my painting as morgan blue

As a result I sometimes deliberately restrict myself by keeping the blues far away from my palette. But whenever I am not looking, there you are – it jumps into my canvas again. Rembrandt was all his life addicted to exploring the handling of light and shade which we call chiaroscuro, while Kolade Oshinowo seems tied to the browns and earth colours; Pita Ohiwere is a stickler for pastel colours of blues and pinks. Yet we cannot simply explain this phenomenon of how colours and artists nay people relate specifically.  

By Morgan Nwanguma

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