what i have been understanding is that all colors are relative. that is how they appear to your eyes or anyone else’s eyes depend on their relationship to the next color or colors. for example, other artist speak of warm and cool colors, and yet that same warm color could become cool looking relative to another color that’s warmer than it. it throws my mind off and i get confused.
i was listening to a landscape artist talk about colors, and he pointed out that in any scenery—still life, life figure, or landscape—the color of light always travels in the same pattern as a rainbow. for example, if the color starts off warm, then it travels back cool; and if it starts of cool, then it travels back warm. it all depends on which direction you’re looking at the rainbow.
there is a group of artists that subscribes to the munsell system which i think it’s a bit too technical, but they have a point regarding chroma and hue. anyway, they don’t describe colors in terms of cool or warm, but in terms of hue and chroma. which is only just starting to make some sense to me.
for example, if you reduce the chroma of a hue (for example the color blue), it tends to visually recede relative to what else you have in the context of your painting. it was exactly what you did to your background—you reduced the chroma of the blueish hue causing the background to visually recede relative to the foreground; and you adjusted the chroma of the reddish hue of your foreground so that its chroma appear higher than the background’s chroma, and thus causing your foreground hue to visually come forward in relationship to your background.
does this make any sense to you? i think this idea of describing cool and warm usually throw people off, especially me. i think it’s more sensible to describe colors in terms of chroma (the intensity) and hue (the color). for example, blue is generally supposed to be a cool color, and yet it could be described as a warm color. it’s confusing. however, you can easily describe a blue in terms of its chroma (its visual intensity), because a blue hue with less less chroma (less vibrant or intense looking) than the same or another will visually recede.
i think it makes more sense to describe what you mixed on your palette and placed onto your canvas in terms of chroma and hue because you can more easily judge a chroma of a hue than to decide if it’s warm or cool. since we always use white and/or a complimentary to adjust the chroma of a hue, thus by default, a lower chroma hue tend to visually recede. so it seems more sensible to me to describe colors in terms of chroma and hue instead of warm and cool.
what do you think, or am i making this idea sound complicated when it really isn’t?
anyway, this was what i’ve been pondering for the past couple of months. also.