The first known theory of color comes from ancient Greece by way of Aristotle. He theorized that God sent celestial rays down from the heavens as colors. The primary colors he identified corresponded to the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Ewald Hering (1834-1918) devised the first accurate theory of color vision. Before him, color theory was just speculation and myth.
What is Color?
Color is a brain response to data received visually. Just like scientists tell us that artificial sweeteners evoke a similar taste to the sweetness of sugar, different light combinations can be perceived as the same “color.” Color or colour, helps us to get to know the world around us. It gives us elementary survival skills, it also enriches our lives so that we appreciate the beauty of a rainbow, the fluttering essence of a colorful butterfly, to the appreciation and pleasure of a painting. Objects emit light in various mixtures of wavelengths that our brains then perceive as “color.” Knowing this creates more questions than it answers. Color theory is a means to try to explain this phenomenon we call color.
Isaac Newton pinpointed the science of color in 1666. Using two prisms, he observed that white light was composed of all the colors of the rainbow. Once the colors were “separated,” they could be identified and ordered. He was the first to use the term “spectrum” for the array of colors displayed by the glass prism. He was able to determine that the colors comprising white light are “refracted” or bent and the colors seen are in the eye of the beholder. There is a range of energies or frequencies in the inverse wavelengths. He chose to use the analogy of seven colors to the musical scale. You will find more details on my website.
Newton was the first to create a color wheel or circle. According to webexhibits.org, (a fantastic website that truly expands a visitor’s knowledge about color) Newton “ordered the colors as follows: red (musical note C), orange (D), yellow (E), green (F), blue (G), indigo (A), and violet (B). Although purple is not a color of the dispersion spectrum, Newton added it to complete the circle, bridging the gap between red and violet.”
A color system that I have studied extensively is the Munsell Color System. This image is from “The Munsell Book of Color”, 1929. The color representation as defined by Albert H. Munsell (1858-1918), a distinguished artist and art teacher, “uses three coordinates: brightness increasing from top to bottom, hue, and saturation. The latter correspond to the polar coordinates (angle and radius) in the horizontal plane. Munsell’s resulting color space was irregular and asymmetric.” (Quote from webexhibits.org). His color system became the foundation for other color order systems. I have written more on this system here.
There are many ways to interpret color today. Fashion, design, print media, computer sciences, and others. It truly is a science and should be respected and taken seriously.
As a client, you don’t have to get too caught up in all the reasons, theories, and color sciences. I will show you how to use the right systems to get the best results so you can color your world!
To your colorful successful life,
To your success and empowerment,