The concept of colour relativity in Visual Art
is one of the most important, yet very complex issues. Thus understanding this should be priority for beginning artists and photographers. This article is devoted to only one aspect of colour. I mean colour relativity. As much as colours are important for visual communication, they are pretty unstable. Their quality, tones, brightness, etc. change in relation not only to light but also to surrounding colours.
The colour changes follow certain pattern
the knowledge of which is crucial to use colours in a conscious way and to avoid mistakes with framing colour, work arrangement in our portfolio or at the gallery show. Sometimes, even while submitting works to an art contest we may select works that do not look well together, side by side. The image below shows how yellow colour changes visually, when placed on various, especially opposite, I mean contrasting backgrounds. It seems that yellow squares used here are of different quality, but they are exactly the same squares, just in a different surrounding. The best way to see the difference, is to look at the image from greater distance and close slightly your eyes so that the shapes got blurred a little. Colour changes conditioned by its environment can be predicted, as there are some, clearly defined rules. The quality of colour changes towards the opposite to the background colour. So, the opposite to green is red, and the yellow placed on green background seems to be warmer tone than the other one.
|Yellow colour relativity conditioned by different backgrounds. On the left, yeallow square seems to be warmer as if with a hint of orande, while on the right it seems to contain the hint green.|
Bearing in mind this tricky behaviour of colours is important for painters and photographers shooting in colour. Placing right your paintings, photographs on a wall at your exhibition or in your portfolio may make a big difference. It may either work for you, or against. Never let others decide, how your works should be displayed. Never rely on accidental arrangement.
|The same green square surrounded by either cold or by warm colours looks as if there were two different green colours|