Good Reading : July 2005
18 goodreading Betty Edwards is best known for her book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain , which has become the world’s most widely used drawing instruction book. In her new book, Color: a course in mastering the art of mixing colors, she says: ‘It is dif- ficult to imagine a world without color. Our biological inheritance, perhaps at a subliminal level, still causes some colors to attract or repel us, to provide helpful warnings, and to mark boundaries. Pink, even today, is used to clothe a baby girl, while blue signifies a boy. Red, yellow, and green control street traffic without need for human direction.’ Because scientists have always been intrigued by colour, the literature on colour is massive. Some of the greatest thinkers in history, including Aristotle, Isaac Newton and Johann Goethe, were consumed with a passion to understand colour.They and other scientists and philosophers have written huge tomes pondering the question, what is colour? Edwards writes: ‘What we do know is that we like color, whatever it is, and sometimes wish to have a better under - standing of how to accurately perceive, combine, and use the beauty of color.’ In her new book she aims to help the reader to understand the com- plexities of colour; how to see it, how to use it, and, for those working with colour, how to mix and combine hues to achieve that most elusive of goals, harmony in colour.Through explanation and a series of exercises, Edwards covers buying and using paints and brushes, how colour is affected by light, how to obtain balance with colours, the psycho- logical meaning of colours, and how to manipulate hues and intensities of colour, create your own colour wheel, and create your own paintings. She encourages you to see colour in ways you never have before.When something – a person, a flower, a landscape, a painting, or some- thing as ordinary as a tray of green apples on a dark wooden table – catches your attention, she hopes you will re-experience the energising high of the beauty of colour. colour coded practical book The phenomenon of after-images An after-image is a ghostly but brilliant apparition of a complementary colour that appears after gazing steadily at a hue, then shifting the eyes away to an uncoloured surface. This visual sensation is one of the most startling aspects of colour, and one that has intrigued scientists for centuries. If you gaze at a full-intensity green, the after-image will be full-intensity red. If you gaze at a pale, dull green, the after-image will be a pale, dull pink.The human brain and our visual system apparently want to complete the primary triad by producing a colour’s exact complement, including the value and intensity levels. Gaze at the black dot in the centre of the diamond while you count slowly to 20. Then shift your gaze to the dot at the right.