Color Everywhere. - The world is full of color. Everywhere you turn you see color, color in the trees, the greens of the leaves, the grayish browns of the trunks, the browns of the earth, color in passing automobiles and in housetops. The very room in which you are sitting is full of many colors, the color of the walls, the desks, the books and the clothing of yourself and your companions. If you were asked, could you name each of these colors before you? With a world so full of color it may seem that a study of color and color harmony will be confusing and hopeless. However, it is not so confusing as it seems and is most interesting.
Color Families. - An easy way of beginning the study of color is to learn to recognize any color as belonging to a certain family group. Can you believe that all the colors in the world belong to one of six color families? This is hard to believe when we stop to think of the thousands of colors which surround us. There are many color names as well as many colors, sometimes two names for the same color. Every season we have what the merchants call "new" colors. These are not new colors, of course, but merely new color names for the same colors. The manufacturers give new color names to the popular colors of the season. For example, lavender may be called orchid one season and periwinkle the next season. These color names are often very pretty and we like to use them as long as we know their true meaning.
Fig. 75 shows the six color families and some of the members belonging to each family. The red color family has a dark red, called maroon, a bright red which is crimson, a light delicate red, which is pink, a violet red which is cerise and an orange red which is henna. There are many other kinds of red which belong to this family. Each of the other color families has several members as you can see in Fig. 75. There are many more color names which can be added to this circle of names. Can you think of any?
In discussing color someone always asks about black, white and gray and it is quite true that they do not belong to any one of these families. Have you ever had a pink dress that was washed and hung out in the sun to dry? It probably faded and if the dress was washed a great many times the pink may have faded out completely. When a garment fades we say it loses its color. After the pink dress lost its color it was white. If it is white and has already lost its color then white can not be a color. White is called a neutral. Black and gray are also neutrals because like white they have no color. This means that they do not "take sides" with anyone of the color families but remain neutral, like a neutral country in time of war. As a matter of fact we seldom see very pure grays because most grays are tinged with color, as for example, blue gray, brownish gray or rose taupe gray.
Something to Do. - 1. Find out what are the most popular colors this season and to what color families they belong.
2. Have a Color Circle Contest. Each girl should make a color circle and put in as many names for each family as she can find. The winner of this contest will have the greatest number of names, each correctly located. Make your own rules for the contest.
3. If you are not convinced that some of these colors belong to these families experiment with paints or crayons. If it does not seem to you that brown belongs to the orange family you can prove it by mixing a dark orange. You can make a dark orange by adding black. Remember that black is not a color, it merely makes your orange darker. Try making a dark yellow by adding black.
4. Where does red hair belong among the color families?
Color Harmony. - There are several kinds of color harmonies but we will study three simple ones that are commonly used. It is important for you to understand color harmony because colors are often combined in the same dress or when hats, shoes, dresses and coats are worn together. Sometimes a clerk in her effort to make a sale will say, "You can wear this with anything." This is not true unless it happens to be black, white, or gray because you remember these are neutrals and do not take sides. However, even neutrals combine with some colors better than with others.
Monochromatic Harmony. - This type of color harmony is made by using different tones of one color or as it is sometimes called a selftone harmony. A brown dress with ecru collar and cuffs, a brown hat with an orange feather and tan shoes and stockings make a monochromatic color harmony. Different shades and tints of a color are called values, that is, a light tint of blue is a light value of blue and a deep shade of navy blue is a dark value of blue. Another way of describing the monochromatic color harmony is to say it is made up of different values of one color. Black, white, or gray are sometimes added as a part of this color harmony. For example, a cretonne drapery may have a white background with a pattern in values of blue outlined in black.
Merely to combine different shades of one color is not a guarantee that a real color harmony will result nor can any definite rule be given for the exact shades of colors that can be harmoniously combined. The best way of learning how to make good monochromatic harmonies is to practice combining colored materials.
Something to Do. - 1. At your next lesson plan to have a demonstration and discussion of monochromatic color harmonies. Each girl should bring as many samples and pieces of colored cloth as possible. Try different monochromatic combinations and decide by class vote which ones are most harmonious. 2. Can you plan a room in a monochromatic color harmony? Adjacent Harmonies. - Another type of color harmony, spoken of as the adjacent color harmony, is made by a combination of different colors instead of different values of one color. It is also called the analogous color harmony. This harmony is always made up of colors that are neighbors on the color circle. Since blue and green are neighboring colors, a navy blue dress embroidered with peacock blue and jade green is an example of an adjacent color harmony. Just as with a monochromatic harmony, the colors must be combined correctly in order to produce a real harmony. A bright scarlet red coat worn with a bright orange hat is not likely to produce a harmonious effect although red and orange are next to each other on the color circle. It will be easy for you to see which colors combine most pleasingly if you will experiment with colors. Something to Do. - 1. Collect samples of colors and experiment in combining them just as you did with monochromatic harmonies. Make the best adjacent harmony that you can from your samples and then ask your teacher and class if it is a good harmony. 2. Find adjacent color harmonies in magazines and outdoors. Complementary Harmonies. - The colors which are directly across the color circle from each other are called complementary colors. By examining the color circle in Fig. 75 you can see that red and green are one pair of complementary colors, violet and yellow another pair, and blue and orange the third pair. In order to secure a complementary harmony it does not mean that you can combine any red and green, a scarlet red and emerald green, for example, and have a truly harmonious effect. The two complementary colors must be selected carefully. Sometimes this is done by selecting two complements that are light and delicate in tone. Instead of combining the scarlet red and emerald green, you might choose to combine a pale, sea green with a delicate pink for a party dress. Another way of harmonizing complements is to keep both colors dull; for example, rather than to combine a bright Alice blue and a brilliant burnt orange in a sport suit it would probably be better to combine a duller blue with a soft tan. Complements offer the most violent contrast of color that is possible and to use them both in full strength is very likely to give a disagreeable effect. We say that the colors "fight" with each other. Another way to avoid this is make one color dull and subdued so that it can be combined with a bright color without a "fight." A dull blue sport dress with a bright orange tie illustrates this method of producing a complementary harmony.