Color Theory 101: The Inspiration of Color.

Color Theory has been around a long time, and the concept of color theory is so extensive it would be impossible to cover all of its aspects in one little blog.  Color is so important in fact, people can earn MFA's (Master's of Fine Art Degree) in color theory.  Today I'm not going to get into visual impacts such as lightness, saturation, or hue.  I'm not going to get into how different mediums such as paint, ink, dye, or pigment mixture affect color.  I'm definitely not going to get into how color receptors in the eye or cones in the retina affect color either. 

I simply want to talk about the inspiration of color and how it affects one's own creativity, mood, and even motivation on a daily basis; which really is no simple thing.  I find colors in nature to be the absolutely most inspiring and motivating!  Kelly green is really only a pretty color in nature in my opinion, and because I understand the power of color in nature, I want to understand the power of color in my own creative endeavors.  I also want to understand how different colors affect my moods and motivations.  The color yellow obviously makes me feel happy, but the color purple has the power to make me stop and think about my purpose in life, and even my spirituality!  Blue makes me feel hopeful and dream about so many possibilities I can attain in my lifetime.  Isn't that amazing!  

Before I start marbling paper my mind is swimming in different color mixtures.  I think about what is trending right now, but mostly I just think about what colors beautifully mix well together.  I don't want to randomly throw colors for no good reason on the size; I feel it's important to understand at the very least the basics of color theory, and knowledge is never a bad thing, right?  I've never been one to understand the artist who states, ". . . and I've never been to art school,"  as if this is something to brag about.  Why wouldn't an artist want to learn as much as he/she can about their own craft?  I'm not saying every artist has to go to formal art school, but I do think every artist should never stop learning about technique, theory, and history. 

Some may not know Joseph was an art professor in his past life.  He has an undergraduate degree in art and his MFA degree in printmaking.  He used to have his students create their own color charts, and can talk about color theory for hours!  We talk about the importance of color theory a lot, mostly when we're out and about driving in the country, go figure.  

This is a basic color chart Joseph made for us!  Here is a refresher of what Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary colors are.

  • Primary Colors:  Yellow, Red, and Blue.  Artists realized they couldn't mix any other color to get these colors, hence they are labeled Primary.  
  • Secondary Colors:  Orange, Purple and Green.  A combo of any primary color will make one of these secondary colors.
  • Tertiary Colors:  Combination of any primary with a secondary or any  two secondary colors.  It's important to understand tertiary colors are not just the third step in color mixing, like yellow-green or red-orange, they are in their essence composed of all three primary colors. 

The majority of colors I find inspiring and beautiful are actually tertiary colors!  I love the color blue, but blue mixed with green is really pretty and offers a sense of depth. 

I'm really loving the current trends of decorating in purples with mustards, pinks with oranges, and greens with blues!



Each room is a beautiful example of tertiary color mixing and matching, and thinking in terms of tertiaries I feel the possibilities are endless! 

What colors do you find most inspiring?