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Analysing colour

Watch this to unpack the use of Colour in Higher Art (and why blue is best)

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What’s your favourite colour?

It’s a question we get asked from a young age and still get asked as adults. Mine is, hands down – blue. It makes me feel secure....alive and at peace all at the same time.

It reminds me of cold, crisp days with bright blue skies. It reminds me of the sea. I connect it with my childhood… and the colour of my childrens’ eyes.

So...what’s your favourite colour? And more importantly....why? The fact is that every different colour will have a different impact on every single person. That colour you are drawn to? You are drawn to it because it stirs up a certain emotion in you, a variety of connotations you associate with it. But where does this emotion come from? Well, that emotion depends on YOU. On your own history and experiences that come together to make you who you are. How amazing is that?

So let’s take a look at the world in full technicolour.

This is thinkfour.

Before we start to analyze colour and attach our individual connotations and emotions towards it, we need to learn to unpack the colour language, allowing us to IDENTIFY and JUSTIFY.

The colour wheel consists of primary, secondary and teritary colours. All colours we have been able to identify with from a young age. These colours would be described as saturated colours. Neutral colours don’t appear on the colour wheel and are most commonly black, white, brown and grey. These colours would be described as desaturated.

Pablo Picasso’s Weeping Woman, painted in 1937 is a great example for us to look at to distinguish the different uses of these colours within the one painting. It’s an iconic image of the grief and pain felt by Picasso’s partner at the time. But even if we don’t have this background knowledge, which we wouldn’t Before we start to analyze colour and attach our individual connotations and emotions towards it, we need to learn to unpack the colour language, allowing us to IDENTIFY and JUSTIFY.

The colour wheel consists of primary, secondary and teritary colours. All colours we have been able to identify with from a young age. These colours would be described as saturated colours. Neutral colours don’t appear on the colour wheel and are most commonly black, white, brown and grey. These colours would be described as desaturated.

Pablo Picasso’s Weeping Woman, painted in 1937 is a great example for us to look at to distinguish the different uses of these colours within the one painting. It’s an iconic image of the grief and pain felt by Picasso’s partner at the time. But even if we don’t have this background knowledge, which we wouldn’t in the unseen exam question, what can we analyse about Picasso’s use of colour here?

Primary colours have been used in the portrayal of the woman’s hat, hair and portions of the outside of her face. As I often associate saturated primary colours with a child-like approach, I gain a sense of her innocent and fun personality. But my eye is then drawn to the stark contrast of the desaturated neutral colour palette of greys and creams used in the centre, which leads me to the handkerchief that is being held up to her face, as it catches the tears running down. This stark colour contrast gives me an understanding of the desperate grief the woman in the portrait is feeling. Bold, black and dominating outlines, highlight the fragmented features of the face, distorted in pain, moving further away from the initial connotations and connections with the primitive and playful, primary colour palette.

By using my ability to apply colour theory into my analysis, I’ve tapped into my own emotions to gain a sense of the feeling generated by the artist and articulated my own connections with primary and neutral colours. I have successfully justified why I personally think Picasso has used colour to contrast and showcase his message behind the painting.

Picasso famously said, “ Colour, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” And here is a perfect example.

Success in Higher Art requires us not to just have an intuitive ability to produce good artwork, but also an academic ability to discuss, analyze and articulate your ideas and understanding. This takes practice to build your vocabulary and to develop your skills in seeing and interpreting.

Once you start, you will be amazed at what else you see in art all around you. It’s an exciting journey that will make you a better artist.

It will open your eyes to a new technicolour world – one that makes more sense to you as an artist. So open your eyes, embrace colour and enjoy it!

This was thinkfour, thanks for watching.

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