Friday, 7 September 2012

An experiment with colour and light

After doing the last colour exercise, I wanted to try out the effect of shining light through colours, and how adjacent colours and translucencies affected the colour's appearance. 

I found sheets of different translucencies and stuck them on a window butting against each other. (The details of which papers I used are in my sketchbook). I was surprised by how some of the papers blocked more light than I expected. For example brown wrapping paper did. And the recycled non-tree paper in the top row in the middle let through more than I expected from the texture. I used bubble wrap and embossed kitchen towel because I was also interested in in the effect of varying light on the colour.

Papers of different translucency stuck to a window.
Photo with the light behind it (you can see a tree in the middle left panel)

The same, with the light in front, shows the surface appearance of the papers.

 Then I stuck various colours of paper behind so the light shone through both.

With green paper added

Putting green paper behind them made the translucent papers greener (surprise, surprise) and the thicker papers redder. I like the clay colours that came out in this one. Where the green sheets didn't quite touch the white light of the sun shone through. The kitchen towel in the top left, while being bright bleached white initially, became slightly more blue with the green behind it. Not sure why this might be. The non-tree paper in the middle of the top row has been the least affected by the green.

With purple paper at the back

Putting purple paper behind made the translucent papers more purple, and the others more yellow. Again, this is consistent with the idea that complementary colours come out in adjacent areas.
This time it was the bottom left hand paper (the card from a roll of wrapping paper) which looked more green in this light.

So far the tracing paper in the middle has given a white haze to the colours, without changing their esssential colour (as far as I can tell), the kitchen towel even more so, and the non-tree paper is again only very slightly changed by the colour behind it.

Yellow paper behind

This makes the brown papers glow with reddish-purple warmth. The tracing paper looks blurry rather thanwhite.

Adding pink paper behind
This very bright pink made the translucent papers pinker, and the other papers greener, as expected. The green is colder than the green/yellow brought out by the purple. The light and pinkness escaping round the edges is rather distracting and I am finding it more difficult to judge the colours accurately in this one. (Or perhaps it's just from staring too hard!)

Pink, with the light in front
I took this one to see how different it looked without allowing the light to shine through. The top row of translucent papers don't show much of the pink at all, and there is no real colour change in the browner papers. The texture differences are much more obvious eg the bubble wrap has more of a textured look than the clear plastic in this one, but there isn't so much difference with the light behind them. And the kitchen towel texture doesn't show at all with the light behind. I think this is because the pink paper has some variations in density itself which shows when you shine light through it.

Backed with brown wrapping paper
 I realised that the 'baseline' of how translucent the papers were and their original colours (see the first 2 photos), didn't show it as clearly as I could see it in my head, so I tried various backgrounds to demonstrate this and found that a semi-translucent one worked best to demonstrate what I meant. This one does have some yellow brown colour of its own so the colours aren't true, but the relative translucency of the papers is much more obvious.

Can I use these things to make objects?
 I'm not sure how these experiments can be used in making things. I like the glowingness of the colours when the light is behind them. They would have to be things against a light box (as I have seen in the Tate, for example...I should try to find some artists who have done this), or suspended in front of windows. There would be variations depending on the quality and quantity of light coming through the window, and whether there were lights on in the room. It would be interesting to make something that looked different at different times throughout the day in an intentional way. Like a garden looking different at different seasons. Difficult to get my head round how to do that exactly, but possible. Perhaps engage your head rather than your gut. But something to think about.

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