Day 3 — Wednesday, June 13 — Art
Teaching Color in Art and Design
The talk will start by examining the development of color-teaching from the earliest important source, Giovan Paolo Lomazzo’s ‘Treatise on the art of painting’, of 1584, through the many books variously influenced by it, to later textbooks on color for artists that were increasingly influenced, after Isaac Newton’s ‘Opticks’ (1704), by discoveries in the sciences, especially physics, vision and psychophysics. The talk will conclude with a brief examination of such Modernist color teachers as Paul Klee, Johannes Itten, and Josef Albers, and the opportunities and limitations offered by their well-documented approaches to teaching color in art and design.
Munsell's Vision for Teaching Artists
Regina Blaszczyk and Joy Turner Luke
Even though Munsell ended up a business man, with a focus on selling a system of color identification, he started out as an artist attempting to find a way to teach color that would help artists of all ages to harmonize color.
Munsell was an artist. He went to and taught at an art school. He painted portraits on commission. He had a painting studio in the Back Bay of Boston. His first ideas were about teaching color harmony and they were a bit strange - giving children muddy colors for example. His system was used initially in products sold for use in teaching art to children. If you read his diaries you see that he spent many years lecturing teachers and art educators about his system.
But as he explored color science more and more, he began advocating for teaching what he called "Color Sense" rather than "Color Theory".
Relating Munsell to Other Systems in An Elastic Color Solid
For a student of architecture in the early 1960s the Munsell system was a revelation. Munsell’s hue, value, and chroma were perfectly clear, but then they were challenged by the Ostwald system with its white content and black content. Revelation was followed by confusion. It became evident that there is no such thing as a single ‘correct’ colour solid or, indeed, a single ‘correct’ colour circle. Colour circles can be structured with equally spaced ‘primaries’ or organised so that ‘complementary’ colours are opposite to each other, but different systems have different sets of primaries, and different ways of establishing complementary relationships yield different pairings. These different relationships can be reconciled if the circle is treated as elastic with intervals between colours stretched or compressed to show the relationships relevant for a given situation. In the third dimension of a colour solid the principle of elasticity can also be applied show relationships of value or of whiteness/blackness; the structure of Munsell can be ‘morphed’ into that of Ostwald. During this talk I will show that, if the colour solid is regarded as elastic, it is easier to understand the information embodied in the structures of different colour order systems and also to see how they relate.
Not So Fast: The Often Seen but Rarely Told Issues with ASTM Lightfastness Ratings
Lightfastness ratings based on ASTM Standards are commonplace and constantly relied upon to guide the choices of most manufacturers, artists and conservators when selecting the materials they use, or whenever assessing the longevity of works of art. Of the many stakeholders and stewards of these standards, we are in a unique position as one of the few manufacturers to have continually tested a broad and diverse range of artists’ paints over a long period of time. In the process, this has revealed a number of problems with ASTM's D4303, Standard Test Methods for Lightfastness of Colorants Used in Artists’ Materials, and the need for a major effort to get it on firmer footing – both scientifically, as something with a recognized and accepted rigor, as well as commercially, as something that can be trusted more fully by all consumers of art materials. Of the many ways that artists may improve the longevity of their works, having a reliable lightfastness rating is both crucial and foundational.
We will share and show examples of the variability of a pigment’s performance over time and from different sources, focusing primarily on case studies of PY3 and PY74, both arylide yellows of wide distribution that are commonly labeled as Permanent or Hansa Yellow Light and Medium. These colors have been employed by artists for many decades and appear on a substantial number of paintings. Other examples will show why we believe masstone, glazes, and pale tints should be included in any lightfastness evaluation, as well as the impact of using different whites, including different forms of the same pigment.
What Art Can Tell Us About the Brain
Artists have been doing experiments on vision longer than neurobiologists. Some major works of art have provided insights as to how we see; some of these insights are so fundamental that they can be understood in terms of the underlying neurobiology. For example, artists have long realized that color and luminance can play independent roles in visual perception. Picasso said, "Colors are only symbols. Reality is to be found in luminance alone." This observation has a parallel in the functional subdivision of our visual systems, where color and luminance are processed by the evolutionarily newer, primate-specific What system, and the older, colorblind, Where (or How) system.
Many techniques developed over the centuries by artists can be understood in terms of the parallel organization of our visual systems. I will explore how the segregation of color and luminance processing are the basis for why some Impressionist paintings seem to shimmer, why some op art paintings seem to move, some principles of Matisse's use of color, and how the Impressionists painted "air". Central and peripheral vision are distinct, and I will show how the differences in resolution across our visual field make the Mona Lisa's smile elusive, and produce a dynamic illusion in Pointillist paintings, Chuck Close paintings, and photomosaics. I will explore how artists have intuited important features about how our brains extract relevant information about faces and objects, and I will discuss why learning disabilities may be associated with artistic talent.
Where is Color Education Now? The Influence of Science and Technology
Technology is constantly providing new resources for color education: to take just one example, Zsolt Kovacs-Vajna’s program “drop2color” is unprecedented in providing painters with three-dimensional representations of colorant mixing paths in Munsell space. Above all, the internet facilitates access to information ranging from rare historical texts on sites like archive.org to current publications, and allows anyone in the world to join in the task of disseminating a better understanding of color, and to have their efforts tested, refined and shared by an international audience.
This talk will discuss how applying technology and current color science to color education can help bridge the gap between the science and art of color.