Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Color Icon: David Hockney

All images property of David Hockney
To celebrate the end of the 2013 we wanted to give tribute to an icon with a penchant for color. David Hockney, born 1937, is an English painter who has created extraordinary landscapes, portraits as well as opera sets. His work is stamped with expressive color and attitude.  Hockney's recent  paintings are currently on exhibit in San Francisco at the De Young Museum in San Franciso, In David Hockney, A Bigger Exhibition,  feature groves of trees threaded through with open paths. But the unnatural hue of the bark and undergrowth places these forests in dreamland, through the looking glass, on alien and yet familiar lands. His paintings often depict receding landscapes, with empty paths diverging in woods of riotous color.

Since this is our last post of 2013 and we wanted to spend it reminding ourselves of why just why we love color. Fortunately, Hockney's work not only uses great color but it also thinks about our relationship to color  as well. Take these three paintings. You can almost see yourself there, at that exact point in that exact forest. That one thick green tree in the foreground, its lowest branch growing bent, anchors you in that place even as the colors and vibrancy shift from image to image.

These three paintings, each with its own inviting path, are a stunning example of Hockney's colorist prowess. Each place is changed not by rearranging the physical space but solely with shifting color. More than just changes in season the forest in each painting grows in a different climate, maybe even on a different planet. In Hockney's paintings color becomes the content, the main idea, of the painting.  These painting say something about the lens through which we see the places we inhabit. That place, the atmosphere, the way it makes you feel, the way it effects your mood and heartbeat and stress level, all of that is influenced by color.

So what do you think? Can we see and make our spaces, and by extension the events that happen there, not grey and concrete rough but brushed as Hockney's forests with world changing color?

See you next year!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Spinning, Pouring, Exploding, Floating, and Bouncing PAINT!

Here at Colour Studio we are huge fans of paint. It's everyones familiar source of color. It brightens furniture and interior walls in the intimate spaces of our homes, to the huge buildings, ubiquitous crosswalks, and stunning murals that make up our public landscapes. Paint is everywhere and comes in every color. So this week we wanted to celebrate paint by giving it something it rarely gets in our flat walled worlds: motion! So here are five fantastic videos of paint on the move.


Fabian Oefner, who has also explored the iridescent sheen of bubbles and showers of pigmented powder in his photography work, inspired these spinning phantasms of multicolored paint. Using a rotating disk coated in vicious paint the team at Earth Unplugged whips up some galaxy like beauties with their slow motion camera.


Though these amazing paintings by Holton Rower hang on the wall, they are far from flat. After building a series of platforms, some square, some multi-sided, Rower and his team prepare sometimes as many as a hundred batches of different colors. The small batches are then poured over the platform armature and the paint slowly pools over the surface, creating a 3D paintings with a beautiful lattice of paint.


A pair of British slow motion camera enthusiasts, The Slow Mo Guys, have done quite a few explosions for the camera over the years but this is one takes paint to the extreme. What happens when you add fire crackers to bottles of colorful paint? Rainbow explosions full of sparks and shattered glass of course.


If you've never seen this technique let us clue you in. For everything from custom guitars to fancy fingernails, creative painters have taken to floating alcohol based paint on pools of water to get that perfect coat.  This technique lets you swirl, mix and texture your way to amazing color combinations that would never have been possible with just any old paintbrush.


With their trusty slow motion camera The Slow Mo Guys are at it again but this time pouring paint where it was never meant to go: on speakers. With the volume cranked up and the paint applied these guys flip on the tunes and watch the paint fly, or more accurately bounce in time with the beat. 

If you've seen any great videos of paint on the move share them below and lets celebrate PAINT!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Phoenix School Rises from the Ashes

All images property of Prinvault Architectes
Earlier this year in Normandy, France, the Jean Moulin Elementary School reopened after a terrible fire burnt much of its structure to the ground. And this was no accident, the fire was the result of an arson attack. A fire, and especially a fire at a school is a tragic and scary event for any community but this school and the minds at Prinvault Architectes decided to face those fears straight on. Using colors taken from photographs of the fire the buildings new scheme acknowledges the past while looking toward the future, all with color!

All images property of Prinvault Architectes
To achieve the color palette the architects analyzed a digital photo to find that "a spectrum of 2.5% black, 2.5% zinc yellow, 2.5% yellow gold, 2.5% red-brown, 25% orange-red, burgundy 25%, and 40% carmine red "  comprised the hues of the fire.    Once the colors were chosen and organized by quantity the team used a list randomizer to choose the order of the colors along the facade.

All images property of Prinvault Architectes
The interior also transforms the colors of the burning fire into a warm happy energetic color scheme. Paired with a main hallway lined with kid sized alcoves for playing games, reading and studying the whole school feels rich and welcoming. 

So while your next color project may not be on this scale we can take techniques used in this project and apply them to our own for new and creative color inspiration. In a previous post we introduced you to Kuler, Adobe's fantastic color palette creator. Its lets you create color combinations using a straight color wheel or upload an image and play with combining colors directly from it. For our adventurous readers we recommend taking the list of colors you generate from your images and after deciding on the quantity of each (how many times each should appear in your project and thus on the list) pop them in to this list randomizer and see what computer assisted color magic you can come up with. If you use this technique for your next color scheme we'd love to hear about it!

To see more projects by this firm visit http://www.prinvault.com/

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Interaction Of Color... the App!

If you haven't heard of 'Interaction of Color,' let us treat you to a book that has, since its first publication 50 years ago, been widely adopted by artists and designers alike as THE reader on color. More than just a masterful textbook of color theory the book, written by Josef Albers, posed questions and interactive problems to help artists and students gain complex understandings of just how colors intermingled, clashed, blended, and affected one another. Recently this book has been remade into a fantastic interactive app from Yale Press.

The iPad app is true to its source material but brings the content to life.  First of all the app contains the full text with easy search, and one touch word definition. But the most striking part of the app are the plates. Here the colors become not just printed pages in a book but an animated interactive tool.  The plates let you play with and test the theories in the book along side the text.

Many of the app features are inspired by Albers classroom teaching techniques which used colored paper to illustrate color theory. The digital equivalents feel wonderfully similar to playing with paper. Individual shapes and colors are rearrangeable with a swipe of your finger. The functionality of the app lets you pick through layers of hue, saturation, and brightness, The app expands our ability to test  color interaction way beyond what paper has to offer making it a natural pedagogical extension of Albers famous book.

This is a clear winner in the interactive textbook race as well.  Both textbook writers and schools are faced with student populations increasingly familiar with digital devices and the ease of their upgraded functionality against which old fashioned textbooks, without search, save, define  feel stale and behind the times. If you are in the mood for some serious color interaction this app is a great place to start.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Paint Your House with Music

We love new sources of color inspiration at Colour Studio and this week we have a great addition to the list. It's not often you think of starting with music when deciding on paint colors for you home but now there is a new app that lets you do just that.

Paintlist from Dutch Boy paints is a free app for iPhone and Google Play which lets you choose any song to translate into a color palette.   Similar to the well known music app Shazam, which identifies the title and artist for any song, Paintlist can also either listen to live music or select from your phones saved songs. Once the song is processed Paintlist creates three custom color palettes from it. The palettes are made to reflect the tempo, attitude and general feel of the songs. 

A danceable electronic tune, for example with a driving but not fast beat gave us the high warmth combination of Popcorn, Jazz and Convivial Red, while mixes for aggressive heavy metal, or pulsing reggae turned up individual palettes all their own. 

The app has its problems with its listening software being less than optimal, and the novelty factor wearing off after one or two uses but it does ask the question of what new ways you can inspire yourself when it comes to color.  Take the camera out on your next hike and photograph trees clothed in ivy vines, observe  the hues of fog grey or  zoom in on a mossy patch of ground and bark.   Listen to your favorite music letting it fill your head with pops of interesting color,  slice visuals you love from  magazines, take screen shots of websites, fashions and  there is Pinterest and Tumblr for inspiration. Color is everywhere even in music, so we want to know how do you find yours?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Color Icon: Yves Klein

Yves Klein
No color blog would be complete without a post on the great Yves Klein! Born in 1928 in Nice, France, to a pair of painters, Klein rose to prominence in the art world in the post-war era. He, along with art critic  Pierre Restany, founded the Nouveau réalisme movement which is seen as one of the major precursors to both Minimalism and Pop art. Impressive right? But behind the fancy art world credentials was an artist insatiably curious about color.

Monochrome bleu sans titre (IKB 128), 1960 (janvier), 40 x 25 cm
Klein's most famous color explorations were termed the Blue Epoch. Large canvas'  were rolled with a rich  lapis lazulian hue. The color, which came to be known as International Klein Blue (or IKB), has been compared to the blue of medieval depictions of the Virgin Mary's robes. He sealed his secret color recipe for safe keeping and as a record of the "authenticity of the pure idea."

At his first show of these monochromatic paintings, which included not just blue but red, yellow, orange and pink paintings as well, audiences, to Kleins great dislike, took his painting as brightly colored interior design. This reaction lead him to throw out the other colors and exhibit paintings in only his signature blue.

Anthropométrie de l'époque bleue (ANT 82), 1960, 156,5 x 282,5 cm.
The  famous blue, which was co-developed by Klein and Rhône Poulenc a french pharmaceutical company, was tailored to look as bright and high chroma as dry pigment. With his signature color settled he experimented with various methods of applying the paint. He stared with rollers, focusing on evenness and distribution but soon played with sponges, fingers, and even women's bodies as "living brushes."

Grande Anthropophagie bleue Hommage à Tennessee Williams (ANT 76), 1960, 275 x 407 cm.
Color wasn't the only thing Klein explored. His performance art and photography all drove the art world in new directions. There is so much more to learn about this icon in the history of color, read on!

All images via the Yves Klein Archive.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Architecting Color: Emmanuelle Moureaux

© Emmanuelle Moureaux
This week we want to introduce you to a fantastic architect with a commitment to color. Emmanuelle Moureaux, a French native living and working in Tokyo since 1996, is an architect and designer with a passion for color. Her work takes color seriously as an integral part of spaces and buildings not as an  after thought.

The driving ethos of her studio is shikiri, a made-up word meaning “to divide space using colors.” Her goal is to use color to deepen and enrich simple spaces, to “use colors as three-dimensional elements, like layers, in order to create spaces, not as a finishing touch applied to surfaces.”

© Emmanuelle Moureaux

Her intimate understanding of color is clear in her work, like this project the Kyoto University Hospital Clinical Research Center. Using color combinations the resemble landscapes she brings soothing natural influences to a space that might otherwise be teeming with stress or fear, neither of which contribute to good healing outcomes for patients. Her use of color is not limited to bright saturated colors as neutrals also feature prominently in her designs. 

This calming yet professional exam room is a great example of the power of white and neutrals paired with one dot of color. The warm beige, blonde wood, and white stripes extract this medical setting from the realm of the clinical and make it instead a  gentle, welcoming space.

© Emmanuelle Moureaux

Moureaux's latest project was a colorful space for this years Shinjuku Creators Festa in Japan.  The project was inspired by the  traditional Japanese sliding screen

© Daisuke Shima / Nacasa & Partners
Dividing space in architecture often focuses on slicing vertically using walls, dividers, and pathways, but here Moureaux counter-intuitively enlivens the space by bringing the ceiling down to head height. Her dividing of the space applied horizontally compresses the open air to a sliver of space along the floor. The experience is cave like but offers a rippling growth of color overhead. Her work is a rich exploration of the importance of integrating color directly with shape in architectural environments and a real treat for all  of us who love color.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Playing with Color

Screenshot If no yes, Rozendaal, 2013
 Bright eye catching  color is often reserved for childhood pursuits with serious or even bland color left to the business suits of adulthood. But color lovers know it doesn't have to be that way. Play time is for every age. 

Take Dutch-Brazilian artist Rafaël Rozendaal. Rozendaal creates art websites with bold playful color. Each site has its  own algorithms that shape, warp and animate fields of bubbly color. 'If no yes,' pictured above, flexes like a kaleidoscope as you slide your cursor across the surface of the website. The magenta pink and pale sky blue  are shattered in to a window pane of mixing gradients. 

Screenshot of Inner Doubts, Rozendaal, 2013
Rozendaal's site 'Inner Doubts' is a maze of trailing gradients, a rainbow that flows along the rectilinear sides and spare angles of a pathway that changes with every click. It is both soothing and a boiling pot of shifting color, a real treat of sumptuous color.  

Screenshot of Everything Always Everywhere, Rozendaal, 2013
'Everything Always Everywhere,' above, is a hushed waterfall of blue gradients, falling forever through the screen. The calmest of all Rozendaal's sites it's reminiscent of ocean wave or falling rain noise generators  in visual form. 'Maybe What,' below is another ode to blue and pink. The sharp triangles of color march to the right, becoming narrower all the time, until they slink off into infinity.

Screenshot of Maybe What, Rozendaal, 2013
These pieces, built for an adult art world, take color and play seriously. The sites are an opportunity  to get a dose of bright color  and too remind yourself that color is one of our creative tools  and can  be enjoyed for its own sake. If you are having a gray day,  have a look though Rozendaal's sites. We promise a smile awaits. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Color of 'Emma Approved' Gives Skin Tones a Boost!

If you were watching the Emmy's this year you might have noticed an odd addition to the usual television shows up for awards. Breaking Bad of course won its weight in gold statues but so did Lizzie Bennett Diaries, the little web series that could. The Lizzie Bennett Diaries is a YouTube adaptation of Jane Austen's well loved Pride and Prejudice. For the year it ran the show caught on with YouTube's younger audiences and became a new way for people to interact with and re-imagine Austen's classic.

What does this have to do with color? A new Austen adaptation was just launched by the makers of the Lizzie Bennett Diaries. The show, Emma Approved, has something subtle to teach us about color in the office. Offices, yes even real ones where you are not on camera all the time, are public spaces that become associated with you and your company, whether through face to face visits with clients or customers or just images you share online. Take Emma's office in the show:

Just look at that beautiful set direction! Along with white and warm wood frames Emma's office is painted a vibrant peach, a color which was most certainly chosen to accentuate her look on camera. We don't often think of skin tone colors as options for painting our interior spaces but this specific color of peach seems to support all the faces that have appeared so far in the show.

So not only does this great color show off her her golden pink skin tone but it grounds the shows brand in a physical space. For everything from her logo, business cards, Pinterest boards, office space, website that color becomes her signature. Now this is not an invitation to start wearing all one color, painting your rooms all that color, making your cards and website and Facebook page all that one color, but to encourage you to think about how color can create a subtle thread of connection between your physical space, internet presence, and materials. And picking a color that looks great with your skin tone is just a bonus!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Color Icon: Dorothy Draper

If there was ever a time for a Dorothy Draper, 1889-1969,  revival its right now. This is a women who advocated for every one to be their own designers, for everyone to feel liberated to be creative with their own home, to have adventurous passions and try new things. This is a designer who started small and close to home, redesigning her own home. That simple choice led to friends and relatives recommending she try professional design and when she did, a status quo smashing career resulted.

Dorothy was a clear break from the Victorian sometimes dark and heavily draped interiors. She abandoned the constraints of minimalism, a design trope wrongly dubbed masculine, and her style became known as the modern baroque, a maximalist revery in bright color and bold pattern held together with the classic lines and shapes of traditional luxury.

She made sure her design was multifaceted. The over all design must not only be functional for the people living in the home or working in the office being redesigned but the space needs to comfort and invigorate them, soothe them after a long day and welcome them home from a trip. She made homes important, not the second class citizens of architecture, before branching out and encompassing hotels, restaurants, theaters, and department stores.

But her career wasn't just about subverting the design tradition that came before her.  She lit the first sparks of todays DIY ethos. Even back in 1939 when her book Designing is Fun! was first published Dorothy saw interior design, a diverse field sometimes denigrated to lesser importance by those who had built a gendered binary between the supposed masculinity of architecture and the supposed femininity of interior design.   Her writing encouraged people, not just women, to take pride and interest in the designs of their homes and gave them tools to design their own homes to their own tastes. That doesn't sound all that revolutionary in a time full of blogs about how to make your home just the way you want it, but in the 30's it really was a brand new idea.

In fact, for shepherding and expanding this idea in our culture, we nominate Dorothy as the one of the design worlds color icons! Check out Dorothy's book In The Pink here!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Color Combinations: A site for Color Nerds.

Color Combinations
If you've been on the internet lately you see an abundance of color.  With striking imagery everywhere,  presenting feeds of richly colored Instagram images, endless HD videos, and tumblr gif collages, social networks are packed with color.  What resources can a color nerd to go to remix and share all that color: Color Combinations!

Color Combinations is part Wikipedia, with great search and clear organization, part content ranking  like Instagram  and devoted to color! The site, which was "built to help web developers quickly select and test web design colour combinations,"  has an endless array of sample palettes.  It is  a resource when in need  of color inspiration for anything from website to wedding.  You can also participate! Color Nerds Unite!

You can create color combinations using the sites tool and send combinations  out for the whole site to see. This format lets individuals practice thinking about color, and provides instant feedback from the  user group. Designers can test combos for their sites and bloggers can research the home page to see what is trending. 

Maybe sharing palettes isn't for you. You'd rather to look up a group of colors that would  fall generally under "amethyst." Color Combinations has colors grouped by hashtag, the same way all the #selfies are linked on Instagram.

The most popular palettes float to the top, essentially forecasting current opinions on color by the sites users. And with more and more color enthusiasts out there, artists, designers, architects, crafters,  are creating a large pool of color data preferences. Even if you're not inclined to make and share your own color palettes the trending colors on the front page give you an ability to track trends. Is the start of autumn (in the US) causing this spike in the rusted oranges to make the front page?

We do not promote selecting colors merely based on trend, but it is interesting to watch the collective unconscious of users start to reveal the trends.  This site can validate the traditional vehicles for color forecasting like CMG and the International Color Authority by opening up the audience to more than members only of their organizations.. 

The varied functionality and fantastic color tools of the library make this site a must for  color lovers.  Want to make a sweater with the colors from you favorite palette? What to quickly mashup colors on screen and play with combinations? What to think about color? Than Color Combinations is for you. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Color Signatures and Classic Novels

When reading your favorite novel for the third time or approaching an intimidating classic have you  noticed how the authors create color portraits within their stories? Is that fictional world replete with moody blues and gray over cast skies or passionate reds with a dose of clean perfect white. What colors does the author gravitate toward and what colors are the most important to the characters in the story? 

One of the American Classics  famous for this type of color imagery is the Great Gatsby, shown above,  The green lantern beaming from the dock across the lake  becomes part of the story because its an object of minor obsession for the main character.  Gatsby's famous green is only a small part of the color picture of that novel but through the use of color data visualization  you can get the feel of the mood of the story.   

Fortunately for all us color lovers Jaz Parkinson, an artist with a great blog  on Tumblr, has been doing just that, constructing color signatures for well known novels that help reveal the color behind the story. Take this image The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum. 

As Jaz describes the pieces: "Each colour reference or piece of visual imagery in the novel has been tallied, graphed, and charted to make a unique signature for the book." So as we would expect ruby slippers, yellow brick road, and Emerald City  hues dominate this picture of of Oz but we also get to see the naked neutrals in the center and a blue purple sliver floating along the edge giving us clues to the less but perhaps more complex messages within  the story. If purple is only mentioned a few times perhaps it highlights a subtle but important part of the plot. 

The color signature for Cormac McCarthy's The Road, a brutal tale of apocalypse and survival, buries the thin filaments of green and blue, colors associated, at least in this context, with sustaining life, under a mountain of bleak gray scale topped with a bright vicious red. The color signature gives you visual, and because of our associations with color, emotional foundation out of which the story can emerge. There signatures are yet another great example of the power of color, evoking whole stories just from they colors they use. Brilliant! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Color Icon: San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum

This weeks post from Colour Studio features one of our favorite San Francisco icons.  In this aerial view, we can see  buildings of varying architectural styles nestled on a block.   One building in particular stands out as a color icon: the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum!

The museum, whose tag line is "connecting art, people and ideas," explores the history, art, and spirituality of the Jewish community today. The building is tucked among the footprints of giant skyscrapers, malls, hotels and historic St. Patrick's Catholic Church.  The museum designed by Daniel Libeskind  melds the historical 1907 brick building, originally the Jessie street power substation, with a dark blue stainless steel addition completed in 2008. This visual juxtaposition of new and old, steel and brick, earth tone and metallic finish might have been jarring but this building feels whole when taken in context with its contemporary glass and steel surroundings. 

The shape of the extension, using the architects characteristic angular shapes is clad in metal tiles.    The form was inspired by the Hebrew letters “chet” and “yud,” both used to spell “L’Chaim,” meaning “To Life”.   The prominent solid color of the extension is as important as the shapes themselves. The opalescent blue colors  selected  are often associated with depth and stability, wide night skies, still ocean waters. 

The color, which has been shown to slow our metabolisms, heart rates, and produce an over all calming effect, seems glacial, like a solid block of cooled tempers emanating tranquil cold into the hyperactive city life surrounding it.   And this is part of what makes this museum a color icon. This building is a clear example that color should never be thought of as mere decoration, chosen purely by personal preference. 

Color, if carefully and thoughtfully chosen, broadcasts meaning to those in the vicinity of the building. A combination of the extension association with a call "To Life!" and the deep blue color can easily be seen as a political or social statement, a call for compromise, levelheadedness, or forethought. In a heated world, the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum asks its visitors to take a deep breath, and not let things get out of hand. Color has the power to change us, our bodies and our minds, and here is a community using color for peace. 

All images via Studio Daniel Libeskind

Monday, September 16, 2013

Color inspiration: Jack Laurilla

Part of .doc series (2013)
After last weeks exploration of color with icon Dale Chihuly, this week we want to introduce you to an up and coming individual using color to explore the language of visual media online: Jack Laurilla. Laurilla is an artist on Tumblr working with images found online.   He remakes them into pure color portraits or creates woven blanket or rug like color-scapes with incongruous software like Microsoft Word.

Word, a common place software, is meant for word processing. If you use a computer in everyday life,  you likely know how to use Word or a similar program to whip out a document full of words. We use processing programs for everything from invoices and business contracts to novels and daily diaries.

Part of .doc series (2013)
Laurilla on the other hand uses that same program to construct documents of color. Using a simple combination of text and highlight color in Word he paints intricate repeating patterns that ask the reader/viewer to see both the whole field of color, the story with all its characters and plot lines, as well as the minute pieces, individual letters and punctuation marks. The images challenge our linguistic separation between document, the visual storage of words, and image, the visual storage of shape and color. Why not read color left to right line by line the way we might read a book or email? 

Part of .doc series (2013)
As he states on his site,  in his work "representation and realism is abandoned in favour of the newly created vocabulary of colour." But what does "vocabulary of colour" mean? Lets look at this red and blue piece from Laurilla's .doc series. One way to think about a new color vocabulary would be to look at this document as though asked what if "vocal" and "eight" (just as two examples of five letter words with no repeating characters) were spelled with five shades of red and five shades of blue instead of letters at all. If we read in color this page could read:


How differently we would see our world if our languages were made up of colors instead of characters!