GENERAL COLOR THEORY AND PRACTICE


    The richly varied books in this category are broad in scope, often reflecting

a visual arts viewpoint or written for a visual arts audience. Many are by renowned

writers in the field who address the nature of color and examine theory to inform

practice. Sometimes theoretical explanations are combined with a practical

component or general instructional objective. A few writings on color theory and

practice by historic figures are included.


    They are organized into five groups, from more general to more specialized.

This section does not include titles on color theory and practice in apparel and

textiles, architecture, interior and graphic design design which are to found in Part 3.


    Books in the first group, Color Theory and Practice: General, offer a broad

overview of general, color principles and concepts that apply to color expression in

any medium. These highly informative books include exhaustive references that

will be useful to practitioners, educators, and students alike.


    However, books geared to teaching and study of color at the college level,

and accounts of color courses are in the second group: Color Courses: Texts and

References. The reader interested in a history of color instruction will find

interesting examples here. These often follow a pattern that consists of an

introduction to subtractive pigment color and sometimes additive color or light; a

hue circle such as a traditional 12-color wheel or a 10-hue Munsell hue circle; a

summary of one or more color systems; a listing of traditional color harmonies

based on complements, analogous colors, and so on, for selecting colors within a

specific context; and a survey of color phenomena such as simultaneous contrast.

Exercises for students are sometimes included. When writers move beyond the

conventional framework, we make note of it.


    Third, books on Color and Design in Specific Media offer a specific but

limited view of color, with considerable detail, and combine theoretical and practical

concerns. These sometimes take the form of a workshop based on the author’s

personal teaching or studio experience. Sometimes study of color and composition

is combined with technical information on studio production. Technical “how-to”

books are not included unless they include significant background information.


    The fourth group, Color Guides and Paint Mixing Systems, offers practical

information for mixing colors in paint. Some of these books provide conceptual

and practical information for organizing colors into orderly circles or cylinders that

lead to controlled color mixing, which can be useful to illustrators and painters as

well as to students and educators. The fifth and most specialized group includes

four titles on “Colorants for Ceramics and Metals.”


    The most highly recommended books combine excellent writing and color

plates, and often feature superb graphic design by professional book production

teams. Since many are by practitioners who base their writing on their own

personal experience, these books usually are accepted at face value for their

usefulness. Many books in this group are undocumented, so we make special note

of exceptions. While many books are recent, some titles offer a historic

perspective, including a few compilations that provide easy access to writings on

color theory and practice by artists and designers.


    Many of the references and texts for color study follow the tenets of two

leading 20th-century color educators: Johannes Itten and Josef Albers. Discussions

based on their writings are pointed out, sometimes on the basis of limited clues.

For example, presentations of color “extension” with numerical formulas based on

the light values of colors are attributed to Goethe are based on Itten. Albers

correctly credits Schopenhauer for devising these ratios.



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