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Yes, amazing book. I understood colour mixing theory better from that book than anything else I've seen, heard or read. I still use the warm and cool versions of each primary as per his suggestion and understanding his method helps me hit the colour I'm after. @tassieguy , I think you are underestimating this book. This is science, not some hack author. Even if you can find it at a library it's worth a look.Counter-intuitively, if you could find perfect pigments of blue and yellow (or any complementaries) they would make black. The blue pigment would absorb virtually all the reflected yellow, and the yellow pigment would absorb all the reflected blue. That actually happens in colour mixing. The fact that they don't make black but green (and some blues and yellows make very murky greens while others make stronger greens) tells us a lot about the secondary colours of each pigment and how pigments cancel each other. Yes, you get green. But blue and yellow don't make green, they leave behind slightly weaker greens. The main colours are cancelled out. They are usually weaker than pure pigment greens because they are secondaries not cancelled out by eachother. The theory he articulates, based on very good science, is really helpful for understanding colour mixing.
It points to a scientific fact that is of no use to painters.
References here of "Perfect pigment" are a bit of a strawman argument, as it implies perfect "color" equals optical frequency of a single wavelength.
References here of "Perfect pigment" are a bit of a strawman argument, as it implies perfect "color" equals optical frequency of a single wavelength.
Agree with a lot of your points which make good clarifications, but not all. The 'perfect pigment' is not a straw man argument. If you haven't read it you're missing how he used it. In the context of the book it is is an intelligent and valid* way to illustrate that - a) Pigments don't change colour when we mix them. They absorb each other's primary reflected frequencies. What's left will be weaker and depends on which pigment you mixed it with.b) Each pigment also reflects wavelengths our brain doesn't perceive because we just see, say a warm blue. It's a warm blue because it's secondary wavelengths are towards violet. If you subtract it's main wavelength and so it will now reflect mainly a weaker secondary hue of violet light, or if you mix it with a yellow, an even weaker green. We can't see that secondary hue of ultramarine as violet until we mix it and subtract the dominant blue. c) If you know what that secondary hue is of a colour, which is third - you can predict your mix more accurately. d) The more subtractive colour mixing you mix down to, the duller the resulting colour. * There are examples in science and other areas like this. I'm too tired to think of one right now. If you call me on it I will come up with one.
Thank you for bringing the reaction to my book 'Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green' by members
of your forum to my attention and for your very kind words.
My response to the critique that you have presented is as follows. If you feel it appropriate
perhaps you would offer it for publication on the forum. Thank you for your support Brett, much appreciated.
My first reaction. Over the years I have had several such attacks. Sometimes it is because the author has
something to sell or promote. At other times it’s because they feel this method discredits their
own theories and way of teaching. One way to bring attention to ’that something’ or to save face
is to criticise the work of others.
Given that many readers of the author’s critique will not have an adequate understanding of the
subject to decide for themselves what is accurate, this can be an effective method of promotion.
Often, it is because they haven’t actually read the book, or if they have, they haven’t understood
it. Ignorance is often the blissful refuge of those who 'know that they are good at what they do’.
Is my work based on earlier findings and descriptions as claimed? The most effective way to find out if any 'prior art' (as its known), has already been placed in the
public domain is to submit it to a patent examiner. I have been granted patents based on my
work with colour and particularly on the findings of the book in question in the USA, the UK,
India, Singapore, Australia and China. In each case the examiner took months looking in detail
at anything described in the past from anywhere in the world. The slightest hint of a similar
finding was put to me to disprove before a patent would be granted. Patent examiners are a very
thorough bunch, to use an understanding explained in a prominent earlier book on colour in a
patented description would take some doing.
The patents are still current - challenge them Mr. MacEvoy - challenge them.
Warm and cool. Nowhere have I suggested that defining a colour as being warm or cool has any part in colour
mixing. In colour use, as a contrast and possible aid to colour harmony, YES, In colour mixing
NO. Our colour perception is constantly on the move and is heavily influenced by adjoining
colours (and even the weather and time of year!). That the critique labels colours using this
flimsy description tells me all I need to know about the level of understanding held by its author.
I am regularly asked by painters from around the world, is this or that colour warm or cool.
I always reply that it depends on what it is compared to. Ultramarine might look cool against
Cadmium Red but against Cerulean Blue? It's a poor substitute for understanding and
making use of the actual make up of reflected light. But each to their own.
Diagrams. I am taken to task for using diagrams to explain sequences of light absorption when colours
are mixed. Because they are used to illustrate part of our present understanding of the
science of light I would welcome guidance from any of your forum members on how to better
demonstrate what goes on within the various mixes.
Comparison between one of my diagrams showing the basic make up of a type of yellow and a
spectrophotometer reading of the same yellow. The author of the critique seems to be saying 'look at his diagram - it shows 'lots' of yellow
being reflected, this is not born out by the instrument reading where only a 'sliver' of yellow is
Take a look at the instrument reading on the right, anyone with a basic understanding of
colour will surely know that when red and green are reflected from a surface together they are
combined by the human eye into a sensation of yellow.
How should colours be described when colour mixing is in mind. As anyone who has actually read my book will know, I describe an approach where colour-TYPE
is all important, not colour name. The type of colour describes its make up and allows
Immediate easy and accurate decisions to be made. Add to this a knowledge of its transparency/
opacity and its reliability and colour mixing can be quickly brought under control. The critique
offers a colour wheel heavily populated by carefully placed and named colours. This alone
suggests a high level of ignorance when it comes to offering practical guidance.
So maybe we should change most university studies in fine art from 'experiment with various
daubings as long as you can write 1,000 words about each' to 'spend the first two years
placing thousands of colours and their exact relationships to each other on a series of wheels
and the final year looking for a way to make sense and or use of it all - bearing in mind of
course that colour is not a rigid phenomena but is constantly on the move. And don't read
anything about colour constancy or about any of the other reasons why such an approach is
holding back progress in case you actually learn something. Think like a Luddite.
The colour theorist. At one time the artist had the benefit of being helped by the colour theorists of the day. Although
I am generalising, such cooperation between the two parties wound down and virtually stopped
following the Post Impressionists. The 'colour scientist' moved away from the artist and most
concentrated on impressing each other. Charts and diagrams are still all the rage as are colour
wheels with a vast amount of carefully placed colours. (Seen that anywhere?). Even their 'trade'
magazine is all in black and white.
How science progresses. Science is based by most on a person or a team putting forward a theory which seems to be the
case; a hypothesis. This is commonly taken to be the starting point of further investigation and
possible updating. I would challenge anyone to show where my approach has moved away from
our current understanding. However I would be the first to accept an updated and more
accurate explanation if it is based on science rather than opinion. The science put forth in Blue
and Yellow Don’t Make Green has been presented at many Universities world wide, as well as
offered for discussion to a prestigious group of scientists from around the world ‘Research Gate’
(Look it up). To date, it has not been challenged. If it is I will be listening.
Light Science vs. Painting: Comment was made that we work with colour pigments, not light science. In fact, everything to
do with painting is tied to light science. Without light, there is no colour. Without science there is little understanding.
My choice of book title. This seems to have upset the delicate make up of one or two of your forum members. I would
suggest that close to 100% of book titles are chosen to give an overall guide as to the contents
of each publication. Anyone who has actually read my book will know that it centres around the
fact that pure colours, those reflecting in a single light frequency, do not exist and that even if
they did they would only mix to black. Read the book, think about the title and it you feel that
it is still ‘gimmicky’ maybe suggest an alternative for an on-line course that we will soon be
publishing. I will be eternally grateful to you if I use it.
Experience and colour memory. Much has been made on the forum of
the place that experience and colour memory plays in a painter’s world today.
Monet has been given as an example of these factors. Maybe it was to emphasise
a point but what seems to have been completely overlooked is Monet’s
enthusiastic embrace of the work of the French chemist Michel Eugene Chevreul.
M.E. Chevreul’s work was centred firmly on the science of light.
It was that understanding of light that allowed Monet to work as described by
members of your forum. It was that scientific knowledge that guided and
changed his work from being representational to the depiction of sensation.
I feel that it was the influence of the science of the day that sees an
exhibition of Impressionist paintings attracting a vast audience. Maybe our
modern attitude is behind the reason that to attract the public to many of
today’s exhibitions thought has to be given to the wine on offer.
If any of your forum members wish to question me on any of the other details
in the critique they can simply drop me a line. I am happy to answer any and
Regards to all. Michael Wilcox
Abstraction: I also separately
asked for further clarification on the diagram critique. Whilst I'm not fully
articulate on full science of colour / spectral analysis, I am reasonably
strong with logic and arguments and it seemed like an apples and oranges comparison
and misrepresentation of the diagram. It appears this was the case. There were
other areas where I noticed MacEvoy appear to misrepresent concepts in a
derisive way, selective phrases to make the work sound unscientific of
simplistic when it was well-explained in the text, and I have to say that kind
of critique raises questions for me. This was Michael's response to the diagram
- the blue text being MacEvoy's:
Here’s an interesting extract from Chevreul’s work relative to the discussion. Note that he refers to mixing yellow and blue as resulting in a hue of yellow or a hue of blue. ‘‘COLOURS ARE MODIFIED IN HUE AND INTENSITY”‘When one pure colour is added to another pure colour, in increasing proportions, we obtain hues of the colour receiving that addition.Thus we may add to pure blue increasing quantities of red or of yellow, and so long as the blue predominates, the compound is a hue of blue but so soon as the red or the yellow predominates in the mixture it passes into a hue of red or of yellow.Thus, proceeding from pure Blue, by adding yellow we obtain various hues of Yellowed blue, until we arrive at blue-Yellow, or Green. Any further addition of yellow carries the Blue into the yellow hues, and we have bluish-yellows until at length we arrive at pureyellow“he doesn’t really define where green starts or stops, who could?
Introduction. Page xxxii
COLOURS ARE MODIFIED IN HUE AND INTENSITY.
When one pure colour is added to another pure colour, in increasing proportions, we obtain hues of the colour receiving that addition.
Thus we may add to pure blue increasing quantities of red or of yellow, and so long as the blue predominates, the compound isa hue of blue ; but so soon as the red or the yellow predominates in the mixture, it passes into a hue of red or of yellow.
Thus, proceeding from pure Blue, by adding yellow we obtain various hues of Yellowed blue, until we arrive at blue-Yellow, or Green. Any further addition of yellow carries theBlue into the yellow
hues, and we have bluish-yellows until at lengthwe arrive at pure yellow.
On the other side, by adding to pure Blue increasing quantities of Red, we obtain various hues of reddened blue until we arrive at blue-red, or Violet ; any further addition of red carries the blue into the red hues, and we have bluish-reds, until at length we arrive at pure red.
When we add to a pigment, taken at its greatest intensity, in-creasing portions of white, which weakens its intensity, and of black, which deepens it, we produce various Tones of that colour.
It is understood that the pigment must be taken pure, and free from the admixture of grey or black. In the Rainbow, we find the colours of the prismatic spectrum, but of a lighter or weaker tone.
It is usual to call the weak tones of a colour tints, and the deep tones shades, but very often theword hues, is indiscriminately applied
to those modifications of a colour.
Greater precision, therefore, in the language of colours, will be obtained by limiting the term tones to the modifications a colour un-dergoes by the addition to it of white or of black, producing a series of tones, light and dark. The term hues must be limited to the modifications a pure colour experiences when varying portions of another pure colour are added to it. If the colours are rendered impure by the presence of the third primary, they become broken colours or greys.
Another unrealistic illustration to make a critical point in science - Me: Give me a glass of water and a blue feather and I can make the blue of the feather vanish from the earth.