Design

Learn How to Analyze Color Palettes Using a Book From 1902

Discover the work of artist and color theory student Emily Noyes Vanderpoel in her book, Color Problems: A Practical Manual for the Lay Student of Color

Mixing colors to create specific effects, transmit feelings, and boost certain moods is what color theory has been teaching for centuries, starting with the first records from the artist Leone Battista Alberti (1435), and the studies of Leonardo da Vinci (1490). However, during the eighteenth century, Isaac Newton revolutionized this field by studying light dispersion and discovering the color spectrum as we know it today.

Since then, several scholars, artists, and scientists have analyzed the visible spectrum's colors to create a knowledge base that can guide other people in combining shades and creating palettes.

In 1902, the artist Emily Noyes Vanderpoel, known for her work with watercolor and oil painting, started to compile the color palette of everyday objects and elements present in nature to understand the color patterns found in the natural world.

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Analysis of a pink glass by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel

These studies were published in the book, Color Problems: A Practical Manual for the Lay Student of Color, which contains 400 pages and 116 color illustrations. Each of these illustrations consists of a 10x10 grid of small images with the colors of each analyzed element or object.

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Analysis of a Celtic ornament by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel
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Analysis of a Spanish embroidery by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel

For Emily, the color combinations found in nature are always balanced, so creating something based on these palettes is a way to harmonize works of art, functional objects, and many other things in life.

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Analysis of a cup of tea and a plate by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel
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Analysis of a stone by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel

In her book, Color Psychology, written in 1989, expert Eva Heller argues that colors and the way we perceive them change according to the context, but they can also be associated with universal experiences that are deeply rooted in our language and thought.

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Analysis of an old carpet by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel
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Analysis of a Japanese silk tapestry by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel
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Analysis of a butterfly by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel
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