I never realized how much influence one color could have over others

I’m learning so much in the Color Theory class I’m taking this semester. The instructor is Jim Flahaven at the University of Southern Maine. These images are from an assignment designed to help us better understand simultaneous contrast. 

I won’t take it for granted that you all know what simultaneous contrast is because I didn’t know.

Simply put, it’s how one color can affect other colors.

Jim told us that Michael Chevreul (1786-1889) was one of the first people to discuss simultaneous contrast. “A color chemist for a dye works,” he explained, “Chevreul discovered that in a tapestry that consists of multiple colored threads, changing the color of one thread could change the entire look of the tapestry.”

So, that’s what this assignment is all about.

We had to make two identical striped compositions EXCEPT for one difference.

Each composition consisted of four colors. Three of the colors had to be identical, but the fourth one had to be different.

We each got a box of Color Aid paper — I love this paper. It’s so much fun to play with! We chose our own colors, which we cut into strips of varying widths.

Everything had to be positioned exactly the same on the two compositions. The only difference would be that fourth color.

What a difference that difference makes!

Take a look at these samples of our work. Can you tell which color changed from top to bottom?

Example of simultaneous contrast

Example of simultaneous contrast

Example of simultaneous contrast

Example of simultaneous contrast

Example of simultaneous contrast

Example of simultaneous contrast

Example of simultaneous contrast

Example of simultaneous contrast

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. Now she writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.