The Suitcase Lady

Green

March 12, 2019, 8:36 pm

I have a degree in art and have been an art teacher and graphic designer all my life. However, I am the first to admit that the technical and scientific aspects of color are diabolically difficult for me to understand.

It wasn’t until my college years that I learned that the primary colors aren’t always red, blue and yellow, something that every teacher from kindergarten on drilled into me. I was shocked that green could be a primary color. Was this a hoax initiated by the Irish?

The answer, of course, is “no”. I couldn’t blame the inhabitants of the Emerald Isle. The visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum just does its thing, and it is called science.

But when I began reviewing the primary colors for this blog, I got an even bigger shock. Red and blue aren’t primary colors at all. The standard red, blue and yellow pigment color wheel is simply a holdover from Newton’s experiments. Science has advanced beyond his understanding, but most art classrooms have not.

So here is an explanation of the TWO sets of primary and secondary colors, the primary colors that are made from LIGHT (which are separated by prisms) and are known as additive primaries, and the primary colors which are made by PIGMENT and are known as subtractive primaries.

  • The primary colors of light are RED, BLUE and GREEN.
  • The secondary colors of light are MAGENTA, CYAN and YELLOW.
    • Magenta = blue and red
    • Cyan = blue and green
    • Yellow =  green and red

 

  • The primary colors of pigment are MAGENTA, CYAN and YELLOW.
  • The secondary colors of pigment are RED, BLUE and GREEN.
    • Red = magenta and yellow
    • Blue = cyan and magenta
    • Green = cyan and yellow

I’ve known since my college days that the printing industry used magenta, cyan and yellow as their primaries. I just thought they had their own set of primary colors. Turns out that those are the pigment primaries for everybody which is fine with me. Ask any of my former students: magenta is my favorite color. Plus, every time a teacher told me to mix the “primaries” to get the secondary colors, the results were dismal…muddy khaki green, dull orange and yucky purple.

So happy St. Patrick’s Day to all the Irish. Green truly is a primary color and that is no blarney!

Click here for a brilliant explanation of the pigment primary colors and see red mixed before your eyes.

 

 

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