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Color History in a Nutshell   (Read 4924 times)
Oct 15th, 2003 at 7:02am

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Color is Everything!
Makawao,  Maui, USA, HI

Posts: 1196
Here is what we knew about color theory in a nutshell.
1666, Newton, 1642-1727, England.
THEORY, He devised the first color wheel. His theory 'Optics' had the right idea, dividing the prism and bringing it back together again. However he chose the wrong primary colors, magenta and cyan were missing. Magenta doesn't show up in the crystal prism spectrum or the rainbow spectrum.

1630, COLOR, Bitumen, or Asphaltum was introduced in 1630 and it was to become a very well liked color. They called it the 'soup' because of its easy mixing and painting qualities. With so much oil in it, it was a very poor drier and could only be used as a final glaze or it would crack. This was the color that took yellow to brown. The Roman's used this color for awhile, it was re-discovered by the Dutch but recent test show Rembrandt didn't use it. Doerner said his studies say that he did.

1705, COLOR, Bister was a transparent yellow to brown, duel-tone color. It was made from charred beechwood and was mainly a water-color pigment. They knew more about color in 1705 then we knew in 1975. The wars did that. But we have more and better colors today. We have lost the ability to paint with transparent yellow however. Lost that in 1900 when Indian Yellow Golden and Indian Yellow Brown/Side were banned by W/N for political or puritan reasons. It was made in India which was controlled by England. All the previous transparent yellows had been replaced by then with this permanent color, the wars started and we lost the knowledge.

1724, Prussian Blue, Germany discovered it in 1704, England said it was theirs, The Paint War fuse was lit, England, France and Germany were stealing colors from each other, each claiming discovery.
COLOR, Prussian Blue, a dual-tone transparent color that was getting close to cyan in its transparent undertone. It's deep mass color has a black-green quality that makes a dirty purple, nice green's though. Iron and the gas cyanogen.
COLOR, Heated Prussian Blue made a permanent Prussian Brown.

1800, England, COLOR, Indian Yellow, the best and very permanent transparent yellow was brought to England from India, where it had been used as a pigment for as long as India had cows, the Far East used it in their rugs. The raw product is called Monghyr, magnesium euxanthate natural organic, after a city in Bangal. England made this in oil and kept its ingredients a secret for eighty years. It was brown to yellow and orange to yellow, two dual-toned colors.

1832, Elizabeth Vigee-LeBrun, 1775-1842, French portraitist, who supported herself as an artist beginning at the age of 15. She improved art over 17th century France, with her colors and gestures. She showed the new colors the best in my opinion, excellent drawing and painting, the "high-artist" of the time.

1809, THEORY, Otto Runge, His color wheel has White at the top and Black on bottom, the colors wrap around the middle of the sphere, He also chose the wrong primary colors. Red, Yellow, and Blue opaque plus the pigment Black for shades.

1826, COLOR, Permanent Alizarin was discovered in natural root Madder Lake, the purpurin was subtracted with sulfuric acid. At this point in time artists were ahead of the current theory, using non-fugitive transparent colors.
1859, COLOR, Magenta, the year the named color Magenta was born. It got its name from the location of a battle in Italy even though Magenta is not blood red. It was transparent, that was good, but fugitive, too bad. It was also called Solferino.

1865, Corot, 1796-1875, French. Painting in plein air was in its infancy with Desportes, Carot and Courbet. I like Corot and what he said, "I don't give a damn about Poussin, broad outlines, or the classical, I'm in the woods".  It's sort of like living here on Maui. He liked Indian Yellow as a glaze.

1867, V. Perov, ?1867?, Moscow. A founding member of the Circle of Itinerant, Heavy Indian Yellow, genre scenes, and portraits.

1867, Courbet, 1819-1877, France, Switzerland, top painter in France. An accurate realist. Because of all the coming wars starting in 1870, Courbet would be the last good realist, High Art was peaking, except in Russia and America. With the start of World War I, all art started to crumble.

1868, German. COLOR, Manganese Violet, Manganese Chloride, Phosphoric Acid, and Ammonium Carbonate, permanent cool transparent Magenta. 1870, WAR, Franco-Prussian War
1875, French Realism moved to Switzerland to survive. Courbet, 1885, Dutch, Norwegian, Van Gogh, Munch, Early Bridge Painters.

1905, THEORY, Albert Munsell. He originally made an eight color wheel with the wrong oppositions, his triad was lopsided, and he had no Cyan. Next he darkened the colors with Black, mixed them with Gray, and tinted them with White, and numbered them all. This is still taught today.
Munsell was the odd one in the color theory bunch, but it was still picked up by the schools.
Originally it was eight colors, which ment there were oppositions but no triad.  
I just left the Munsell site and you should see the scrambling going on. Munsell knows it has a problem and they are trying to fix the unfixable. This text opens the Munsell web page. Munsell defined hue as "the quality by which we distinguish one color from another". He selected five principle colors: red, yellow, green, blue, and purple; and five intermediate colors: yellow-red, green-yellow, blue-green, purple-blue, and red-purple; and he arranged these in a wheel measured off in 100 compass points."
The rest of the site they spent on trying to inclued cyan and magenta, two colors Munsell never saw. Even calling blue-green the cyan hue as the RYB color wheel does, the colors are still mis-spaced and it doesn't work.
In the five, eight or ten color wheels there is no triad. Also, 100 degrees contains no triad.
Munsell is now a 10 color wheel and because it has no triad it has no correct spacing between the colors, it's analougous colors do not mix evenly. Having five primaries wrong is worst then having 3 primaries wrong, nither is exceptable..

THEORY, The last color wheel (square) of college record was by Church-Ostwald. It has Yellow, Red, Sea Green and Ult. Blue at the corners.

It made that way for the new coal-tar colors, all pigments were replaced by their top-tone matching colors. Naples Yellow, Rubins favorite, artist's favorite for two thousand years, was replaced by a mixture of Zinc and Ocher. This color was not even close to the opacity of Antimony lead. Pigments were moving from the Iron Age to the Oil Age. Ostwald had no regard for opacity, or raw pigment content. Only the final dried color. This is what todays pigment manufactures make colors with. Today the Pigment Color Chart is still based on the red, blue and yellow primarie color wheel.

1912, Synthetic Cubism, Picasso, Gris.
1914-1918, WAR, The First World War. Britain, France, and Russia against Germany and Austria-Hungary.
1934, Mondrain.
1872-1944, French Abstract, straight compartments for color, Red, Yellow, Blue, Black, White and Gray.
1935, England, COLOR, Cyan Blue, Copper Phthalocyanine, alpha crystal or metal free Phthalocyanine, with a metallic atom removed from copper. THIS WAS A MOST IMPORTANT COLOR DISCOVERY, THE INERT PRIMARY BLUE, CYAN TRANSPARENT.  
IN FIFTY YEARS, PAINTING HAD GONE FROM REALISM TO NAIVE, BECAUSE OF THE WAR'S. 1870, Franco-Prussian War. When war's begin, art starts going downhill, as all time has shown.  

1914-1918, The First World War. Britain, France, and Russia against Germany and Austria-Hungary.  
1939-1945, WWII In 1931 an undeclared war began between Japan and China started, while Italy and Germany were also threatening the peace. In 1939 Germany attacked Poland and France and Great Britain declared war. Italy joined in 1940, the United States and the Soviet Union in 1941. The United Nations defeated Italy in 1943 and Germany and Japan in 1945.  
1956, Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary. ROYGBIV is given as the correct order of colors in a rainbow, but this was not really a color theory. Again the artist was ahead of the recorder. Indigo as a color was no longer thought of as a cyan hue, the manufacturing quality was no longer there. Violet will give way to being the new color Magenta.
Art was at ground zero. Today's art is 'A flag on the Floor with a Crucifix in the Toilet' Chicago, 1996. That's when I wrote this on my website. It's hard to take painting seriously when our museums don't.

Color Oppositions
Only now are we interested in a new color wheel, because we have new colors we are all using. Well, the transparent cyan and magenta hues aren't new, and neither is transparent yellow (Arsenic, orpiment). The primaries are a lot purer now.

Some element crystals only come in two colors and they are opposite colors that match my Real Crystal Color Wheel.
Like the lead crystal Pyromorphite making ult blue and yellow. Mixing in yellow or ult blue pigment is the first step of graying either pure color. The copper element has a red crystal and makes the opposite color cyan.

If you add magenta and cyan to the palette of RYB you would have a good palette but the RYB colorwheel will offer you no help in finding correct complements.

Use the correct complements to make darks to add color to your shadows.
There are 18 pigments each having an exact opposites to mix neutral darks.
01. Lemon Yellow, 02. Indian Yellow transparent Orange to Yellow, 03. Cadmium Orange, 04.Cadmium Red Medium & Light, 05. Naples Yellow Light, 06. Indian Yellow transparent Brown to Yellow, 07. Yellow Ocher, 08. Venetian Red, 09. Burnt Sienna, 10. Raw Umber, 11. Ultramarine Blue, 12. Thalo Blue, 13. Purple, 14. Magenta Quinacridone PR122, 15. Cobalt Blue, 16. Thalo Green, 17. Burnt Umber, 18, Raw Sienna.

These 18 colors are a very complete oil palette, not every one is used every time. Some of these colors can be replaced internally. For instance;  
Indian Yellow, Thalo Blue and Quinacridone Magenta will make a neutral Dark, so you can paint a complete full color painting with only these three transparent primary colors.  

Magenta PV:19 and PR:122 are opposite Thalo Green, they make a very dark neutral that matches the foreground shadows of green objects or magenta objects. I use PR122 because it is a stronger tinting strength than PR19 Rembrandt Rose and is equal to Thalo Green's tinting strength. It also makes better blues.

Ultramarine Blue plus Burnt Umber (dark yellow) makes another perfectly neutral dark, it has a big range of warm and colors on each side of neutral.

Cobalt Blue and Orange mixed makes a lighter gray neutral dark.
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