Color theory

I’m finally taking a color theory class (at a local community college). I’ve never studied color formally, but I finally decided that it was time. So last Monday night I spent the evening sorting by value 314 Color-aid swatches.

This was no picnic. By the end of the evening my eyes felt like a bad sunburn in sandy bluejeans. They became hypersensitive to colors; I took a break from my sorting and went to the restroom; in the institutional gray of the college bathroom, any thing with any color in it seemed to burn and glow.


One of the things that my watercolor guru, Steve Curl, is always on to me about is my value range. “Your painting is all in the mid-value range,” he admonishes. “Go darker.”

Go Darker. It’s a mantra in my studio. But until I struggled through the Color-aid deck, I don’t think I had an idea of what “go darker” meant, or where to place along a grey scale any particular alizaron crimson, quinacridone orange, or pthalo green.

After I wrote this post, this poem popped up in the recommendations from WordPress. It’s lovely. Read it.

One thought on “Color theory

  1. I understand this “hypersensitivity to colors” and your perfect simile. Thank you, too, for sharing the poem—-a wonderful reminder about the regrets we can feel toward those things we do not do. . .

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