December 23rd, 2012
Color, one of the Elements of Art, consists of reflected light. When we see a particular color, it is because an object is absorbing all wavelengths of light except for the color that we see, which is reflected back to our eyes.
The concept of color, also referred to as "Hue", is generally taught through the use of a color wheel. A color wheel displays the relationship of colors to each other.
In the attched color wheel image, we can see that colors fall into three basic categories. Primary, secondary, or intermediate (also known as tertiary).
A color's placement on the wheel indicates its relationship to the other colors. Colors that are closer together have more in common than those that are further apart. Groupings of colors are referred to as "Color Schemes". Colors that are next to each other are called "Analogous". Colors that are directly across from each other are called "Complementary". Analogous colors such as red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, and yellow are referred to as "warm" colors because they are generally considered to be associated with earth and fire. Colors that fall in the range of blues and purples are generally referred to as "cool" colors for their association with winter, ice, and water. Green, depending on its level of brightness can be either warm or cool.
A group of three colors is referred to as a "Triad" with some having specific names. For instance, an analogous triad would be three colors directly next to each other on the color wheel. A cool triad would be three colors that fall in the half of the color wheel that contains the cool colors. A split-complementary triad would contain a color, plus the two colors on either side of its complement.
Colors have different "Value", which refers to its level of lightness or darkness. Colors mixed with are called "Tints", and will appear lighter in value than colors mixed with black, which are called "Shades".
The term "Monochromatic refers to a color scheme that contains only one color plus tints and or shades of the same color.