colour values

Wednesday 13 January 2010

looking at the paint colour cards in a diy hardware store always leads me to think how paint manufacturers attach emotional, subjective meanings to their palettes of colours (whose job is it? do they sit around a table and say yes, that shade of blue speaks crete? or we like the sound of tuscan sunset, let’s mix the colour to match). perusing the diy store’s colour charts  i felt i was on a virtual holiday as i came across coral canyon, niagara blues, delhi bazaar, celtic moor, sicilian summer, himalayan musk – the last confering bohemian values, artistic, refined, culturally aware, spiritually enlightened.. but i preferred the single word descriptions from another paint manufacturer: smoulder, wildwood, snowfall

so my thoughts naturally led to the colour chart works of gerhard richter, who, in around 1966 saw some colour charts in a hardware store and thought they made the perfect found or readymade abstract paintings, colour separated from any narrative or symbolic meaning (although as mentioned above, colour is marketed by its emotional association). as with much of his work, there are themes or concepts to which he periodically returns. from his first colour chart paintings of the 1960’s he revisited a systematic approach to colour once again in the 1970’s, this time using formulas to first mix and then arrange the placement of the colours, made more interesting in that the colours were mixed and graded very methodically but the placement of colours in a grid format were organised by chance, selecting numbers at random (much like the lottery draw).

in 2008 he returned once more to the colour chart theme, creating his most ambitious colour chart to date, 4900 Colours – 196 panels made up of 25 coloured painted squares each, which can be arranged or grouped in any sequence, from one very large-scale work to any permutation of small scale works (but any resemblance to lego would be unkind).


gerhard richter, 256 colours, 222 cm x 414 cm, oil on canvas, 1974

i wonder if there is any logical or mathematical connection to the 256 colour system developed for early computer monitors?

grids and squares, order and arrangement have been some of my artistic preoccupations over the years.. so, when thinking of some possible titles for the first few of these little experimental canvased collagraph prints, whilst adjusting the images in photoshop, i thought about the numerical values that are returned by the color picker tool, the combination of letters and/or numbers (hex, rgb) matched to a print swatch colour (such as pantone)…

a little time spent googling and i set about creating my own color code rule… sushi was returned as a first title, and it seemed quite suitable; a reference to nori (on reflection a better title), of japanese ceremony and etiquette.. curious as to how reliable this rule or the code would be, i tried it once more with another print/painting and it returned fjord, immediately conjuring up images of glacial paths and crisp norwegian landscapes (as with the colour swatches from the diy store)…

sushi  abstract canvas - art for sale
sushi, 2010


fjord, 2010

so i’ll be playing by the rules for a change…

2 thoughts on... colour values

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