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Experiments in Color and Light

Updated on March 20, 2012
signgirl profile image

Carol attended University of Calif, at Davis, San Francisco Art Institute & Graduated SD State.She has written and illustrated several books

The First Under-Painting
The First Under-Painting

Under-painting my Canvases-Experiments in Color

My sister, who is a professional artist, taught me how to do under-painting of my canvases, before my final work of art in oil. Lately, however, I have wondered what it would be like to paint various color designs ( instead of the single color backgrounds) under my paintings. I've read about color and light waves and different effects it has on our visual perception of color, and thought that it would be fun to experiment somewhat. My newest series of paintings are on Africa. My niece, who lived and worked there, sent me many of her interesting photos, and I have always wanted to do paintings from them. So, they will be my first pieces of art to try these experiments.

Color Theories

First, here are some of the color theories that I read about--see what you think: The primary colors in art are red, yellow and blue, in print making and dyes, however, they are cyan, magenta and yellow, and for light displays (when light is split by a prism) they are orange-red, yellow-green, and blue. They say that our eyes see cyan because this color absorbs the red wave lengths, that we see yellow because it absorbs the blue wave lengths, and when white light falls on cyan and yellow both red and blue are absorbed and we see green.

My Experiment With Colors

So, how does one color over another affect our visual perception of these colors--or does it? As I continue my experiment with colors, I will show you all the before and afters. The pictures shown are of the first under-painting that I did, and the final oil painting (on top of it). I could see how the darker purple and blue changed the lower portion of the painting to feel somewhat cooler to the observer, even though I was using the same colors over the top.

I'm no rocket scientist, so if anyone can see the difference between the effects of the under-painting and the over-painting and how, if any, your perception is changed---let me know!


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    • signgirl profile image

      Carol Hill 6 years ago from Palmetto, Florida and Herriman Utah

      Thanks so much; I still don't know what I'm doing yet, but appreciate your encouragement.

    • cookies4breakfast profile image

      cookies4breakfast 6 years ago from coastal North Carolina

      Voted up and interesting! My medium is fabric rather than paint, but I love your painting. As far as the theory, I get what you're saying as I've layered thin materials together to get the color I want. Again, love your painting!