Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Disney meets Sorolla

A while ago as I was trying to explain the concept of warmer-cooler color to a group of students, I could tell some of them just weren't getting the meaning of color pattern. The next morning, while reading the morning paper in my hotel room, I came across several images from a Disney animated film. They were excellent examples of design with color temperature. A frame would be either primarily warm or primarily cool with accents of the opposite color temperature.

 I clipped the pictures from the paper and took them into class. As I held the images up and explained the use of color it was apparent this example made an impact. Why? Because the images were simplified and the colors were easy to identify. They used basic color notations and were easily seen as primary and secondary colors. And once the identification of color was made, it was just as easy to see the pattern of warmer-cooler colors.

Understanding color temperature is complicated by the fact visual experience and, in turn, most paintings are composed of subtle variations that have little resemblance to a color wheel.  It is difficult to compare a grey or tan to a primary or secondary color. But if we learn to identify the most obvious information first, deciphering the rest of the visual information becomes just a little easier.

William F. Reese gave his students good information when he instructed them to: 1. identify the hue – red, yellow, blue or green; 2. adjust the value which is often to lighten by adding white, then adjust the temperature by using adjacent hues from the color wheel; and 3. adjust the chroma (intensity of the color) by using the complement if necessary.

I can’t say I am as directional nor as organized to follow this method of color mixing, but it certainly helps clarify the process.

The work of Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923) provides some great examples of color temperature and the pattern of color information. Many of his paintings have a clarity of color and a pattern of warmer-cooler color that is reasonably easy to identify.

Promenade on the Beach by Joaquin Sorolla

Children on the Seashore by Joaquin Sorolla

Child's Siesta by Joaquin Sorolla