183 of 184 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2004
Betty Edwards, the author of Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain, has ventured into the world of color and painting with Color. Edwards demystifies color theory and brings it within grasp of just about any artist or designer. If you have had problems understanding just what makes up a harmonious color palette, then this book will help you solve that problem.
The book starts out at by explaining the basic vocabulary and works its way up to what makes a harmonious color arrangement. It achieves this with a number of exercises that are designed to give the student firsthand experience with mixing color and picking a palette. Though this book is written for painters, designers will get a lot of use out of it. In fact, I was able to do almost all the exercises digitally and got a good bit of benefit from doing so. I am a painter as well as a graphic designer, so I will be doing the exercises twice (once digitally and once with oils), but even if you are solely a graphic designer, this book will be of great benefit for you if you do not have a good foundation in color theory.
One of the things that I really enjoyed about the book was the numerous side bar quotes from famous artists and designers. We hear from the likes of Goethe to Itten. Though the quotes are not really needed for the text, it is certainly interesting to hear some of the greats talk about color.
The book's sub-title includes the word "mastering," but I do not think you will be a master of color after having read this book. However, you will have a firm foundation in color theory and will be pointed in the right direction to reach that goal if you put in the effort. So if you have always been mystified by color theory or never have gotten around to studying it, then this book is for you. You will come away from reading this book with a firm understanding of color and what makes good color design.
131 of 134 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2006
I am not an artist, at least, that is not what I've gone to school for (I am a History professor). But Betty Edwards' books, over the past couple of decades, have helped me to draw like I know what I am doing. And now I know more about color and the art of mixing acrylics.
For those of you who have taken art classes or consider yourselves to be artists, I don't know how you take the book. But for those of us who yearn to express ourselves through art but were never instructed, this book is a godsend. No one ever explained color theory to me before, at least that I could grasp, but Edwards' no nonsense way of teaching as a step-by-step process explains color theory in excruciating detail.
I tried to paint before, but failed to mix the colors the way I wanted to, or to match what I was seeing. Edwards makes sure that this never happens to you again, at least that is what I got from the book. What I found the most helpful on an emotional level were the little blurbs in the margins, which some other "reviewers" criticized. Why do these help? Because now I know that Van Gogh, Da Vinci, and others had to LEARN color theory like I have to learn it. They didn't just pick up a paintbrush and oils and voila!, they were masters. They worked at it, just like me. I don't feel so stupid about art anymore.
Edwards will make you see color structures in a better way, an artists' way. You should be able to express what you see in front of you better after reading her instructions in this book and doing the lessons. Painting used to be mysterious to me, and now I know how to achieve the colors I want, how to balance out my paintings, and how to think like a painter. Like I said above, I no longer feel like an idiot where painting is concerned, I feel like I can paint, which is exactly what Edwards wants from her readers.
The only problem I have with the book is that my color mixes don't always come out looking the same as in the book, even though I do what she says to do, but it may be the limitations of color in printing a book that is the problem, maybe not, I don't know. But unlike some of the other "reviewers," I had no problem getting all the right materials. Just go to Dick Blick Art Supplies online and you will find all the materials she wants you to have, no problem, including all the right colors.
If you have never understood color theory before and want to understand it, and if you have never been taught to mix paint before but want to learn it now, I highly recommend this book. Maybe it should be called "Painting for Dummies," or something, because I am not so sure how much help it is for people who already call themselves artists, but it is helping this historian learn to express her creative side with confidence and in color.
99 of 106 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2004
If you paint and use color, or just want to appreciate color in painting, this is the book. What makes Betty Edwards a wonderful teacher is her ability to question what she is doing as a teacher and then find ways to introduce new ways to study the material so as to bring the essence of the lessons home to the student. In this book she explains that her students were not grasping the essence of color and how to render it effectively. After some thought she developed new lessons that explained to the students how to understand and use color. These lessons are now brought to us in the form of this tomb.
I have executed the lessons, and they work. Even though I have been painting for 10 years I learned a lot from this book and doing the exercises. Doing the exercises is key, but they are very straight forward to do and one can learn even in "failure" (I had to do a couple of them more than once).
So there you have it. This is an instructional book that works in that it communicates to the reader (student) lessons about color and color usage that are invaluable. The lessons are clear and the results of doing the lessons are an increased understanding of art and color.
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2004
I learned to draw about 15 years ago from Betty Edward's classic DRAWING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN. I went from having what I thought of as no talent to producing portraits people actually have offered to buy! For years I've stayed with pencil, however, never quite understanding color. No more-- this book is the perfect bridge from drawing to painting. If you have some knowlege of monochrome drawing and want to make the leap to full color painting this is THE book for you. If you don't think you can draw, read Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain first before tackling this one. Both are simply outstanding.
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
It is interesting to read the reviews on a book like this and then to finally get the book to decide its quality for myself. Sometimes, my opinion is so different from some of the reviews that I wonder if we were reading the same book! That is the case with this book. I think that it is outstanding!
I bought Betty Edwards' book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" way back when it was first released and it improved the quality of my drawing enormously. This book on "Color" has done the same for me on seeing and mixing color pigments. I finally understand!
The book presents color theory with exercises on seeing and mixing colors in a very logical, step by step manner. Each chapter builds on the previous chapter, so that by the end of the book, you will have a thorough understanding of how color pigments work. More importently, you will understand how to mix any color your need. Of course, the mixing is a skill that must be practiced and if the exercises in the book are carefully followed, you will get plenty of very productive practice!
I have always had a lot of trouble mixing color pigments and often ended up with mud. I now understand why and how to correct it! I never understood how color complements really worked, and now I do. I never understood how to brighten and darken color pigments without ending up with strange looking "Stuff" on my pallette. Now I understand. I never understood how to create effective color harmony. I have read many books on color harmony that were just pictures of harmonious color arrengements with little instruction on how to arrive at them. Now I know how to start with one or two base colors and create a beautiful, harmonious palette of color ! Outstanding!!
If you need to understand any aspect of mixing color pigments, this is the book to get! Absolutely disregard the negative review on this site. As a matter of fact, don't even bother to read the review. It is a waste of time. The person who wrote it could not possibly have been reading the same book!!
107 of 122 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2004
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I was surprised to see in all the rave reviews this book has received that no one has mentioned the practical problems of actually finding acrylic paints in the colors she tells you to buy. I searched on three continents and was unable to find any supplier that carried all of them. The only manufacturer who actually makes a "cobalt violet" is Golden Acrylics - I ordered this paint with relief only to find out that it was completely different from the color swatch in her book and doesn't work at all in color mixing. Same for "permanent green" which is always light or dark - not specified by her - and which in the case of Golden Acrylics does not mix correctly. I assume she'll eventually come out with her own line of Acrylics for use with this book, but for now good luck. It's absolutely unworkable without the basic materials, and what are they?
90 of 103 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2008
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this is a disappointing book, for three reasons. first, edwards simply recycles the mummified "color theory" dogma inherited from the 19th century (primary colors, complementary color contrast); worse, she merely parrots it secondhand, in dribs and drabs and without understanding what she is saying. second, the "scientific" statements about color are dilettantish, superficial and in many specifics factually wrong, inserted merely to give her text a savant and authoritative tone. finally, the practical guidance is devoid of any artistic spirit: the introductory color lesson asks the student to make little wheels of color and then, when the little wheels are completed, to copy wallpaper. no, that's not a metaphor: you choose a piece of wallpaper, paste it to a sheet of watercolor paper, then copy the design while inverting or shifting the color scheme.
the grossly misleading information contained in this book speaks very poorly of the book's publisher. edwards directs students to use acrylic paints, then tells them to buy "cadmium yellow pale" (which appears in no acrylic paint line manufactured anywhere in the world) and "cobalt violet" (which is offered by only one acrylic paint manufacturer, and not under that name). she uses "hue" when she means "color" then, when she wants to signify "hue", she must call it "source hue"; she calls paints "pigments", achromatic or neutral colors "no-color colors", and saturated colors "spectrum hues", even when the colors (such as purple or magenta) do not exist in a light spectrum. she calls "red" the painter's primary color as opposed to the printer's primary color (magenta), when it fact magenta is the correct subtractive primary in both printing and painting; she claims there is no useful magenta pigment for painters to use when in fact several very satisfactory blue red and red violet pigments, the quinacridones, are now available in all commercial acrylic lines -- and have been used by artists since the 1960's. in their place, she recommends using alizaring crimson, a dull, fugitive pigment invented in the victorian era.
as we are in the realm of mummified "color theory", edwards relies on the 18th century complementary color contrasts (yellow+purple, orange+blue, red+green) for color harmony, guidance that has turned amateur painting into an anthill of identical cliches. this simplistic rule has been repeated for generations, not because it is accurate or useful (colors that are "off complementary" are actually more harmonious together), but simply because it is dogma -- something you can teach that has been taught before. significantly, these teachers (edwards included) are never fine artists themselves.
indeed, the whole book has numbly reductive approach that resembles teaching the deaf to sing. paint something simple, like a vase with flowers. hold up you metric wheels to judge colors. adjust colors using your wallpaper painting methods. make paintings by blocking in colors, then adjusting colors. stand back, squint, and "change whatever color doesn't look right." add colors that are missing and vary colors that are too similar. avoid mud. use complementary colors. get a new sheet of paper, rinse and repeat.
the only thing soaring about this book is the flight it takes as you fling it out your window; the only inspiring moment is when it flops into your trash can. yes! three points!
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2005
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I just got my copy of this book and am planning how to execute the exercises. Other readers have offered summaries and their views, so I will skip the summary here. The layout and organization of the book is pleasing and logically presented. I can sympathize with the reader from France who complains that a couple of the acrylic paint names are not available. This should be fixed in future editions but you should simply look for the nearest possible pigment (despite her caveat to the contrary)--what I think she is advising most against is falling in love with the more complex paint colors available and not disciplining yourself to stay with the basics. I wish that the exercises were amenable to colored pencils and I will try them with colored pencils first (a glutton for punishment, perhaps?).
Some of what she discusses is in the earlier books but this is certainly extended much further in this volume and it is comfortable reading. Luckily, she has largely omitted her discussions of left/right brain theory, making this book more accessible to readers unfamiliar with or hostile to her view.
I am also sure that some 'real' artists, or artists of the more romantic bent will rail against her presenting color theory in this way. I believe that it is true that it is better to rebel once you have learned at least one formal system. Her approach is probably most helpful to those of us intimidated by art classes and artists but who want to learn to express ourselves visually and extend this area of our capacity.
98 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2006
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I admit it: I was suckered into buying this book on the strength of Dr. Edwards' classic, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. So how does one repeat the success of a classic? Well, this book sure isn't it!
OK, there's some helpful advice, particularly for the new art student, but much of the book is worthless. Her "scientific" opinions seem spurious, like her opinion that we see after-images of colors because the brain has a preference for complements. She devotes an entire chapter to the worldwide meanings given to colors -- leading the reader exactly nowhere since the meanings are as different as the cultures. I get the sense that this entire chapter was simply book-filler. Finally and ultimately, she fails to answer the question most artists need: How do I create a working palette?
There are much better books on color theory: Exploring Color, Color Harmony in Your Paintings, and Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green, to name a few.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2004
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I read my first book by Dr. Edwards -"Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain"- in 1994, when living in U.S.A. Since then the book has been always a few inches from my hand. I really enjoyed reading the book, as well as doing the pertinent excercises. In doing so, I gained a first hand experience in drawing what I was seeing. In a few words, an excellent piece of work. In fact, not long time ago I bought the "New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" and "Drawing on the Artist Within".
On the other hand, and since I love color, I was always missing a good book dealing with this important issue. Well, here it is! One of the best books I've ever read regarding this complex subject. Well written, richly illustrated, brightly colored, the kind of book you know at once was done by an expert. The book drives you along a smooth path of learning, going from simple excercises to more complex works -e.g. armonizing whole paintings-. The book is really impressive regarding the color insight you gain by reading and doing the excercises. I think it would be useful both for beginners and professionals as well. Simply said, a jewel worth getting as soon as possible!
After reading and working with three of her books, I think the only one Dr. Edwards had yet to write -hopefully- is a book dealing with drawing and painting imaginary subjects. Maybe a major issue at present but who knows, maybe sometime in the future ...