Showing posts with label color. Show all posts
Showing posts with label color. Show all posts

Monday, July 11, 2016


No, these women (above) are not naked...they're simply wearing flesh colored leggings, which are all the rage now. 

Pants like these used to surprise me but now I'm used to them.  They're really nothing new. We white people have always liked things that are flesh colored.

Half the exteriors in my neighborhood (above) look fleshy. 

Half the rooms, too.

If you're caucasion like me, you just naturally seek out places to live that look like yourself. Maybe it's the camouflage aspect that appeals to us.

A white man stands against a fleshy wall and...Wow!...he's invisible! Maybe eons ago that's how we foiled the sabertooth tigers. No, wait a minute...they didn't have house paint then. Well then, maybe we just liked the color...I don't know.

Anyway, bathrooms (above) are almost always flesh-colored. A neighbor I talked to bucked the trend and foolishly colored his bathroom sea foam green.  He gave it a nautical look, which seemed to make sense because, after all, it's a room you're always splashing around in. Well...a year later he had to repaint it.

He said the blue walls drove his wife nuts, as if somehow they'd violated a universal law...and in a way, they did.

He repainted the walls flesh and it had an enormous calming effect on his wife. Camouflage? I don't know.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Most animation cartoonists who come to Theory Corner probably aren't interested in fashion illustration, I guess because animation is acting intensive and requires an emphasis on simpler color. That's understandable, but I'd argue that a study of that medium, fashion I mean, is still useful for our trade, regardless of whether what we do ends up being on the screen or not. It's simply a good training ground for a certain kind of color and line. Of course I'm a guy so I'd choose more masculine subject matter.

It's a style that encourages doodling in color, as in these Christian Lacroix sketches.

Lacroix was one of the creators of the Cindi Lauper style in the 80s. 

His sketches are reproduced in a few books.  They'd make great Christmas gifts for artists. 

Here's (above) a page from a Lacroix swatch book. I like the color combinations.

Swatch books never turn up in book stores. They're handed down from one artist to another.

I did a search for Lacroix posters but I didn't turn up anything first rate. To judge from pictures on the net, the posters he puts on his own walls are colorful prints from other media. 

That's all I have to say about Lacroix, but I'll add that my hits have diminished in the last couple of weeks, maybe because people are focused on the holiday. That's okay, so am I. I think I'll take this opportunity to post on a reduced schedule for a couple of weeks. I'll be back on a full schedule soon after Christmas. 


Monday, November 02, 2015


This Sunday I paid a visit to Steve Worth's to see Bakshi's new film, "Last Days of Coney island." I knew the film would be good but I didn't know it would be THAT good.  It was gorgeous! Look at the way the painterly way the characters (above) are handled. Who else does that?  All the way through I kept saying to myself, "This is shocking! Absolutely shocking! I don't believe what I'm seeing!!!"

At the film's end it was clear that, at an age when most animators retire, Ralph had created an industry changing film. It's easily the best thing he's ever done.

The first thing you notice is the color.  Ralph did all of it himself. I've always liked Ralph's paintings...I knew he could  paint...but who knew that he could paint like this? He's raised the color bar for the entire industry. What was acceptable last year will get faint applause after people have seen this film.

By way of an example, check out this bar (above). It's red, like something out of a Nolde painting. Not only that but but the woman behind the bar is wearing a similar red, making the bar shape more complex and interesting. The background is green to make the bar pop out, and even the guy sitting at the bar is wearing a type of green. It's a case where red sits on top of green, and green sits on top of red. It's a nice contrast, and it fits the contrasty story, which is flamboyant and melancholy at the same time.

The film is full of exciting color, like this triad (above) of red, green and purple. The big studios are too timid to try things like this.

You can see the character color a little better here.

The second thing you notice is the cartooning. Everybody who's worked for Ralph has lamented that the public never sees his own sketches and animation, but only other artists' translations. Now we get to see Ralph raw and unfiltered and the experience is vastly entertaining. 'More about this in a minute.

The third thing you notice (and this'll be my final bullet point) is how cinematic the film is. Ralph's always had a knack for editing but here the film is uniquely wedded to what's happening with the color, cartooning and music. I'm not aware that his own paintings have ever been shown to greater advantage. It's "synergy." Ralph's a big believer in the power of combined arts to create something bigger and better than its parts.

 I said I'd return to the subject of Ralph's cartooning and animation. Some of his characters are drawn as if they were made for a pencil test. The characters are outlined carefully, but sometimes have internal lines everywhere, and it works spectacularly.

 The lines don't get in the way, rather they help to give the characters a texture, and color reads better on texture than on a flat ground.

The animation, that's done in Ralph's own style and it's beautiful!!!!! It's alternately smooth and deliberately jerky, and when it needs to be wild a Jimmy Tyre influence comes into play. It conforms neatly to the animator's code which is, "funny drawings that move in a funny way."

To sum it up, THIS FILM LOOKS LIKE IT WAS CREATED BY AN ARTIST! AN HONEST TO GOD ARTIST...and a CARTOONIST, NO LESS! Imagine that! What a rarity! Geez, there are some studios where cartoonists are shot on sight and their bodies fed to sharks. Many thanks to Ralph and the visionary supporters who financed this at Kickstarter!

BTW: The film costs 4 bucks through PayPal and is yours for a week. What a bargain! The link:

Friday, October 16, 2015


I'll be moving to a part of the country that gets gloomy in the Winter and I want be sure the new house is cheerful and colorful. My plan is to compensate for the overcast by using a lot of interior white to bounce the available light around. I'll also go for an eclectic look that'll justify the use of bright color accents.

I like the room above a lot. If I can get something like that going I'll feel like I've accomplished something.

This room (above) has some interesting ideas. It's far from perfect, but it's white and colorful, succeeds in being challenging, and has a nice artsy feel.

 Hmmmm...a bit too girly and minimalist. I like some of the color, though, and the black Franklin Stove is a nice touch. I'll have to think about this.

I'm not a weaver or a fabric designer but I need an excuse to surround myself with the kind of color that you find in those trades.

My work area will probably be influenced by Julius Schulman's set up (above)...only with lots of color.

Some colorful Ralph Bakshi frame grabs on the bulletin board wouldn't hurt. Boy, Ralph has a good feel for color!  His "Last Days of Coney Island" film will debut on Vimeo at the end of the month.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


If you've attended art school in the last 40 years the chances are that your color classes used one of these books (above) as a text. I find that amazing since these books are intended for use by abstract artists who paint flat color fields, a category that doesn't include many artists. How on Earth did these specialized books come to dominate color education? I have a theory that might explain it, but I won't reveal it til the end of the post. 

Anyway, there's more than one reason why these books get used year after year. For one thing, they're cheap. The Itten book comes in a small thin edition and the paperback of Albers' book is almost pocket-sized.

Another reason is that both books have an academic, high-minded tone. Artists seem to like that. Maybe it's because we artists flatter ourselves as being the equivalent of doctors and scientists. We like having a book on the shelf that only the select understand.

Maybe it's because a lot of our ilk used to be Marxists and Freudians and that gave us a taste for the edgy manifesto style those authors use. Itten had a keen awareness of how image can sell a product. That's him above, carefully dressed and looking like the villain in a James Bond film.

Anyway, I had a chance to thumb through the books the other day and here's what I saw.

Both books start the same, with an emphasis on color gradients. They both begin with a black and white palette (above) where the values are restricted in different ways.

So far, so good. With the idea of limited black and white choices established, they go on to show how the same kind of limit (above) works for colors, too. You can favor the middle value colors with only a few darks and lights, or favor the darks and lights with only a small number of middle values. That's an interesting idea.

Unfortunately at this point they branch off into the esoteric. Both write more than you need to know about simultaneous contrast. Albers gets into a long discussion of flat, transparent colors layered on top of each other (above). It absorbs a lot of his attention at the expense of concepts that might have been a lot more useful.

Itten got into esoterica of his own. That's his color square pattern above. His book is full of them. The patterns are very pretty but, really, they're just pleasing colors of different types with some pure black and white to set them off. Why devote so much ink to them?

Maybe Itten would argue that setting off colors is no small thing. Look at the target above. It's just the three primary colors set off by black and white, but what a difference the black and white makes. Black and white are powerful activators of other colors.

Now here's the theory I promised: these books get bogged down in trivia and are only minimally useful for art students not specializing in abstraction or flat graphics. I believe the reason the books, especially Itten's book, dominates art schools is that it's so beautiful to look at. Itten's patterns especially look good on white paper with black print. The paintings themselves aren't always that interesting or profound but surround them with black and white as Itten did and they're riveting. Itten's arresting page layouts also help.

In other words, the real contribution Itten made was his re-invention of the art text book. In his shrewd hands the subject of the art book was less important than the look of the book itself.

Interesting, eh?

Friday, March 15, 2013


This, believe it or not, is a post about the need for fabric and textural variety in interior decoration. I need to make that clear right away because at first glance the whole post looks like a bunch of girls in their underwear. That's because all the images here come from adult sites. I just didn't know any other place where I could find the kind of colorful interiors I had in mind. I'll try to clean up the pictures where I can. It's the best I can do.

Anyway, I think the house shown here (above) is an Australian photographer's collective. This is the kind of environment artsy people of all kinds thrive in. Artists require color. We have to see it all around us every day. It's not enough to put colorful posters on the wall. Color requires texture and pattern to read effectively, and that means fabric, plants, stone, glass, and wood grain.

Look what these windows (above) do for this room.

I like fabric draped over furniture. The example above is a little too girly for my taste, but it makes the point.

I love this picture (above) because it really sells the idea of a sleeping porch that doubles as a sort of greenhouse or potting shed. It's a whole room devoted to color and texture, and to the changing quality of light as the sun makes its way across the sky.

How do you like the muted yellow bedspread and the purple and indigo pillows? What do you think of the weathered old rug on the floor and the artfully sagging old cot?

It wouldn't cost much to build a structure like this (above). The roof is corrugated translucent plastic, and the screens are weighted plastic screening fabric that hangs like drapes. I like the Japanese-style frame.

I like rooms that are drenched in light in the daytime, and are dark and mood-lit at night. For a spot that's dark no matter what the time of day I suggest luxurious, thick, heavy, dark green...either as a carpet (above) or as a drape.

Bed linens (above) are a great excuse for complex color. The patterns here remind me of washi, the Japanese colored rice paper that you see in craft stores.

You can't get away with fabric this flamboyant (above) unless you're a girl. On the other hand, Matisse probably had stuff like this around the house.


Well, that's all I have to say about that. On another subject, I'll be posting twice a week from now on, probably on Monday and Thursday. That's one day less than before. The reason is that since December I've gotten more than a third fewer hits. The number is still pretty good, but I'm a ham and I miss the larger audience. Maybe it's for the best because this'll give me more time to work on income-producing projects.