Color my World

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A little art 101 for you today. Color theory.

Red, yellow, blue. Primary Colors. Or are they?
Ahh, not so fast!

That works for paint or colored pencils or ink. Red, yellow and blue are ‘primary’ because they’re the first – or essential – colors. These are the colors from which all other colors can be mixed. Red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green, and blue and red make purple. So, orange, green and purple are secondary colors..You can’t mix a primary color using other colors.

Light, however, is different. With light the primary colors are red, green, and blue. You may recall pictures of very close-up TV screens and the red, green and blue dots or bars which compose the images. This is because colored light transmits colors, and colored matter absorbs and reflects colors, so mixing them requires different methods.

If you take a variety of paint colors and mix them you’ll get a muddy brown. If you mix all the colors of light, the result is white light. A prism (I love them!) breaks the white light of the sun into the separate colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

It’s yet another story when dealing with printing, where the primary colors are cyan, magenta and yellow. If you have a color printer you probably know that. They are similar to, but certainly different from, blue, red and yellow. Have you heard of CMYK? That’s Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and the K is for Black.

Back to the paint, ink, and colored pencils briefly. Here’s today’s art tip: Have you ever wondered what to do if you need brown? Mix orange and green, or really “red and yellow” and “yellow and blue”.

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