Saturday, January 26, 2013

Colour Theory

I am going to spend the next few weeks posting about a personal discovery I recently made. This isn't new information, but it's new to me, and I'm excited about it. Today, I'll talk about the classic colour wheel and my frustrations with it. As the days go by, I'll address how the colour wheel can be improved upon, what other components of colour are important, which colours work best together, and how to make this new knowledge work for you. Also, I'm Canadian, and I spell colour with a U. Deal with it.


I have always loved colour which translates easily to many crafts or arts like knitting (yarn is so pretty), food arts (blueberries and blackberries are poorly named), and fashion (no explanation necessary). When I was a kid, I liked to paint and mix colours to make just the one I wanted. I had learned the colour wheel in school, as I'm sure you did. You know, the one that looks kind of like this.



You may have already guessed this, but my favorite colour is purple. It always has been, except for that one year when I was thirteen and it was black. Teenagers... I have often tried to make various shades of purple by mixing more or less red and blue. Somehow, though, I could never get my purples to look like the one in the colour wheel. Mine would look like this. This is not purple. This is grey and yuck. That colour wheel that you learned about in school said that when you add yellow and blue it makes green. That usually works out alright. And you could consistently get beautiful shades of orange by mixing yellow and red. So why was a pretty purple so impossible to make?


I'll tell you why! That colour wheel we learned in school was a LIE! Much like many other lies we learn in school like how Chritopher Columbus seemed to be the only guy in his day who thought the earth was round. False. Or how you needed to memorize all existing prepositions in order to recognize a prepositional phrase or even succeed at life. Nope. Or how blue and red are primary colours. BIGGEST LIE OF THEM ALL!!! Alright, maybe the whole glorifying Columbus has a bigger social impact, but the colour thing can be a major issue when trying to dress yourself in the morning.

If you remember, primary colours are colours that you can create ALL other colours from with the help of white and black. That means, with five tubes of paint, you should be able to make any colour your heart desires. Here's the closest to a complete colour wheel I could get with yellow, red, and blue:
So what are the actual primary colours? We could get into colour theory, additive and subtractive colours, light waves and all that, but let's focus on data instead. You may have noticed that your home printer can print any colour your heart desires, right? What colour inks are in there? Cyan, magenta, and yellow. Yes, THOSE are actually primary colours. Changes the entire look of the colour wheel. More on those next time.

1 comment:

  1. My husband ruined the elementary color wheel for me. I don't understand it but red, yellow and blue are not the true primary colors.

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