There are many ways to explore colour. You can study colour psychology: how people feel when confronted with certain colours and the associations they make. You can learn about electromagnetic energy and how wavelengths of light are absorbed by or reflected off objects to create the appearance of colour. Or you can study colour symbolism and the history of meanings associated with particular hues. Whatever line of inquiry you choose, exploring colour is a complex, never-ending task.
In the 6th edition of WOTH Magazine, Mary Hessing uses her editor’s note to explain an art school exercise that gave her a deep understanding of the composition of colour. In a class taught by Klaske Vogt, Hessing and her fellow students were asked to create the perfect colour wheel by mixing their own paints. Creating each colour involved 100 steps and this process was repeated for white to black, yellow to red, red to blue and blue to yellow.
The exercise required intense concentration and a bit of perfectionism. But after it was all done, Hessing had developed an intimate relationship with each colour in the wheel – she knew what each was made of, its relationship to other colours, its likenesses and dissimilarities. She discovered, for example, that light pink and light grey had similar tones and intensities.
According to WOTH Magazine, colours are complex entities that “…breathe and reveal themselves in ever-changing ways, just all other life around us. This is exactly what Hella Jongerius wanted to showcase in her recent exhibit at The Design Museum in London called Breathing Colour.
Jongerius uses three-dimensional “colour catchers” to show how light affects colour and how colour changes according to environment and time of day. Jongerius wants us to pay greater attention to the colours around us and the colours we choose to surround ourselves with. She wants us to develop the same intimate relationship that Hessing did, when she spent countless hours learning how to go from light grey to soft pink in 100 steps. I sure hope Breathing Colour makes its way to Toronto soon.