The Influence of Colors in Interior Decoration, Part Four

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Light and Color

Regardless of its intensity, a color does not register on the eye unless there is light. In selecting colors, light is of prime importance. Light often does unexpected things to color. Strange as it may seem, the intensity of a color is lowered both by bright sunshine and by reduced light.

If we assume that colors are seen most correctly under a north light on a clear day, we might also assume that these same colors viewed in bright sunshine will appear more intense. But bright sunshine actually lightens a color. That is why intense colors can be used, without seeming so strong, in southern climates where there is an abundance of sunlight.

As the sunlight disappears with the approach of darkness, the bright colors in a room begin to fade. As the light grows steadily less, the bright colors in a room seem to become darker and darker. But when the daylight fades into twilight, the darker colors of the spectrum appear to become lighter.

Artificial light also presents problems. Incandescent light has a tendency to yellow a color. Peach, for instance, becomes more orange in incandescent light. Ordinary fluorescent light, on the other hand, is colder than incandescent lighting, and it often gives colors a bluish cast.

The effects of natural and artificial light on color can be very confusing. In selecting colors, it is wise to plan your color scheme for the time of day or night when the space is used to the greatest extent. Before a color is approved, it should be viewed under the kind and amount of light that will be in use.

If you must match the same color on two different occasions, be sure to use the same kind of lighting. Don’t try to match under incandescent light a color which was first mixed in daylight.

When mixing colors, consider the tinting strength of the various colorants. Suppose you are mixing white oil color with red to get a medium pink. It would seem logical to mix one part of white with one part of red. However, this actually gives a deep pink, because the red pigment in oil color is a stronger colorant than white is. The proportion would have to be about eight parts of white to one part of red to give the proper value.

It is a good practice to add color to white in very small amounts, little by little, when mixing pale colors. To lighten dark tones, add the lighter color to the darker one in fairly small amounts…

Finally, keep in mind that most paint colors look different in the wet state than in the dry state. Whenever possible, make it a practice to brush out a sample and let it dry thoroughly before checking the color match.


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