Introduction to Color Theory

Sir Isaac Newton was one of the first scientists to investigate color theory. Around 1671-72 he discovered the origin of color when he shone a beam of light through an angular prism and split it into the spectrum (the various colors of the rainbow).

Color is the product of light. A ray of white light passing through a prism is separated into the colors seen in a rainbow. If a room is dark no color is seen. A color is seen on an object or surface because light bounces off the surface reflecting a particular light wave.

Colors of the rainbow are always arranged in the same order because of the length of the individual light rays. Remember, we see a rainbow because of light breaking down through the rain drops (sort of like a prism).

The spectrum is the colors of the rainbow arranged in their natural order: Red - Orange - Yellow - Green - Blue - Indigo - Violet.

Color as Light, Symbol and Emotion

Scientists investigate the properties of color whereas artists explore its effects. Color in art can be used in many different ways. Some artists are fascinated by the effects of light; some are interested in the symbolic meaning of color; and some use color to express their emotions.

In short, colour theory in art could be summed up by three words: Light, Symbol and Emotion.

Related Articles:

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light and the eye
A great site for detailed info on color theory.

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