Friday, December 21, 2012

Color: A Study of Ourselves

I thought I was going to get a book from the library. Instead, I got this entire box full of color folio pages and a book. I could only look at it in the library because it's the original 1963 Yale edition of Josef Albers' The Interaction of Color. A librarian had to get it from Special Collections and bring it out to me.

The librarian asked me to wash my hands if I were using a hand lotion (I wasn't). She also told me that gloves were no longer required as they made it difficult to handle the pages.

Here's the lovely room they provide for non-circulating fragile books.
Topeka Room in the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library

Here's the box with folio pages of color to match the exercises in the book.

Here's a diagram page from the book.

... and some sample color folio pages. They were silk screened apparently.
Showing how transparency causes "plastic action" or artificial depth.

Free form color exploration example.

Albers felt paper was better for color study because it avoided mixing paint (laborious and not always accurate) and allowed easy reuse of the colors.

I began this journey when I looked over some scribbles I did in Adobe Ideas on my phone and noticed that they were all explorations of palettes. I still wonder why certain colors attract me. Albers writes, "... everyone has preference for certain colors and prejudices against others. This applies to color combinations as well." And also, "As we begin principally with the material, color itself, and its action and interaction as registered in our minds, we practice first and mainly a study of ourselves." The important part: as registered in our minds. Because color is a subjective experience.

So, no short cut for me. No web page that says, "Right here, Elaine, is the answer to why you prefer certain colors and color combinations."

I only got about half way through the book today. Looking forward to going back and finishing. I remember some of the lessons and ideas from art school in the 70's. Still true today, although many of us take them for granted i.e., stare at a color and then look at a white page and see its opposite, surrounding colors affect how we perceive a color, etc.

I continue in awe of the master, Josef Albers.

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