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Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hoffman



Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hofmann brings together the man, the schools, the painting, the ideas, and the teaching. Jed Perl of The New Republic calls this book "enormously important... nothing less than the missing chapter in the history of the period," for Hofmann's decade of painting in Paris prior to World War I, combined with his observations of the masters of all cultures, enabled him to explain Cubism to the avant-garde and catalyzed the later Abstract Expressionism.

In the ateliers of German emigrant Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) in Munich, New York and Provincetown, talented students later to become some of the most significant artists and educators of the time rubbed shoulders with critics, collectors, and curators, who in turn transmitted and transmuted Hofmann s ideas across Europe, America, Canada, and beyond. From how Hofmann taught to what he taught, artists talk shop about the inner workings of the visual language, required reading for those engaged in creative composition, whether visual, verbal, musical, architectural, cinematic, or choreographic.

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“In nature, light creates the color; in the picture, color creates light.”
–Hans Hoffman

Hans Hoffman

More than ‘color inspiration,’ looking to fine art is a dynamic way to experience color. Hans Hoffman exemplifies the word “colorist.” This book offers an in-depth exploration of his theories of color as well as gain as sense of the man—his life, teaching, and art work—in a biography. Also included are many illustrations of work by other artists, some of whom were his students.

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Ready for exterior color?

Following the last post here about price of paint and Titanium White (a major ingredient in house paint products) I want to share this article with you.

From the magazine Period Homes, it’s titled “A Primer on Paint,” and offers a detailed view of trends in paint products. It’s not about ‘color trends’ but rather about the actual development of paint products.

It's the pigments that make color visible. Aren't they beautiful? Kremer Pigments manufactures pigments from natural materials to create a wide range of historically authentic paints and finishes. Photo: courtesy of Kremer Pigments.

Major paint and pigment manufacturers are featured, with comments from Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Behr, Fine Paints of Europe, and Kremer Pigments.

If you have been wondering about Waterborne – vs. – Oil based paints, differences in paint qualities, “VOC’s,” and pigments, be sure to read the article. You will also glean a few tips from color consultants James Martin and Barbara Jacobs (Yes, I am honored to be included in this article).

I hope you enjoy reading it, and perusing the magazine, in general.

color design by Barbara Jacobs Color and DesignFrom the Period Homes article: photo by Barbara Jacobs

Do you have a “Period Home?’ What are the joys and challenges?  What do you love the most about it? Let us know about your experience.


Who was the first trend-setting “Colorist?”

We’re always so busy in our daily lives — both personally and professionally–that we don’t often pause to really think about what was happening in the very, very early times of human development and how it might relate to us today.

I remember when, as a child, one of my favorite subjects was “cave men” and how they lived. Those early cultures held a mysterious fascination for me. OK, so I’m actually a frustrated archaeologist!

painting of early men culture

The paintings of Charles R. Knight, (1874-1953), influenced our impressions of the prehistoric world.

When the recent New York Times article on the amazing discovery of a  “100,000-year old paint workshop” came to my attention, I not only enjoyed reading it but was compelled to emerge from a sort of “Blog-out” of being absent from posting for quite a while.

This is what it made me think about, to start with:

  • Symbolic use of color in many cultures
  • Who made the color decisions “way back then?”
  • What was the “psychology” of those early people and how did the arrive at their discoveries and uses of color?
  • How did they continue, over time, to make new pigment discoveries and record them?
  • How were the colors communicated from one group to another, and
  • Did they have what we call “personal preferences?”

I’m sure the answers to these questions are elementary to the people who make this study their life’s work.

But this discovery feels like a jolt to the modern world of design, fashion, color trends, and modern paint techniques. If we are open to it, we’ll appreciate new dimensions in our current way of thinking about color, pigment, and paint mixing. Organic color sources of many types are at the foundation of  modern paint colors that we use most often in our own home decorating.

Another way of looking at it is as another example of the connection between art and science and, in this case, history—literally!

New York Times article - image

Image from the New York Times article.

Image source: New York Times
Grethe Moell Pedersen

But what do you think?
And, what do you know, for a “fact”?

If you do read the article, be sure to go to the readers’ comments there, which are fascinating and informative as well!

I”ll certainly be interested your thoughts, too.


Happy Colors Inspire a Rainy Day

Here we are in Boston, chilly and rainy. Finally, some water–it’s appreciated. But thinking of colors today, here’s a bit of what comes to mind:

Remember “Don’t Worry, be Happy?”  Sometimes hard to do these days, but looking at this helps make it  possible!

Japanese bike saying happy things

Happy Bike!

In case you can’t read the fine print, the saying on the bike is this (and please note: it’s NOT a typo)!

HAPPY LIFE
Benny present mellow breezy cycle to you!
Happy Life match your good sense!

In a different medium, it’s inspiring to look at and handle the beautiful wool and silk colors, and all manner of paint and surfacing colors. Here are few of the silk poms that I enjoy using with other materials in developing designs for Silk Road Weaves Tibetan rugs.

Silk Yarns - for silk road weaves rugs

Here come the silks!

Speaking of materials, mixing colors  has always been a pleasure.  Whether it’s using fine pastels–basically ground pure pigment–or liquid tints for any medium from varnish to paint, colors always give a lift.

Mixol - the best tint for many media

Love that Mixol!

Inspiration for interior and exterior color decisions, and for many color design projects, often comes from the materials themselves.

Best wishes for a Happily Inspired  Colorful Day with many more to come!


Blue, The History of a Color

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — Barbara Jacobs @ 2:09 pm

These days we see blue as a color relating to trust, sincerity, peace, tranquility (sometimes), and a few other ‘color-psychology’ and associative qualities.

BLUE: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau

Looking into the history of any color is fascinating, and in BLUE, Michel Pastoureau has created a beautiful book that is rewarding for it’s own aesthetic qualities, both visual and functional (yes, the binding is really stitched and the book lays open at any page!).

As for content, the color illustrations taken from a variety of historic documents serve to make the educational text entertaining as well as informative.



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