Interior Design Assist

640px-set_of_watercolor_paints_-_ariel_waldman Water colours > Wikipedia image by Ariel Waldman from Munice

The distinguishing characteristic of water-colour painting is its translucency. The surface of the paper is visible through the thin water-colour pigments. It creates a veil-like effect that is very distinctive from the heavy and opaque painting in oil. Water Colour paintings have been created on papyrus, bark papers, plastics, vellum or leather, fabric, wood, and canvas.

brushtypes Water colour brushes Wikipedia image by Vinegarten en wiki

Water-colour paints are produced by mixing dry powdered pigments with gum arabic (a natural gum of acacia trees). Solid water-colour cakes can be dissolved in water and applied to paper with a brush. Although water-colour is a relatively modern type of paint, but various water-based paints systems have been used throughout the recorded history. Water colours are usually transparent and seem of pure hue because the pigments are applied in a relatively…

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Post 530  by Gautam Shah


RYB MODEL Subtractive colors

The search for ‘truest’ or ‘purest’ colour has been a story of revelations. Some of the purest forms of colours have been available in nature, as flowers, body colours or spots over insects and birds. These were sought in applicable forms such as pigments and juices or dyes. It was realized from very primitive times that both the forms have distinctive applications. Pigments are good for wall-arts and juices or dyes are good for body colouring, fibres and leathers. Beyond this it was also known that pigments were comparatively opaque in comparison to nearly transparent juices or dyes. Primitive age craftspeople had typical understanding that very ‘pure colours shades’ were less lasting than slightly compromised shades. This realization was due to the fact that oxide and natural pigments were longer lasting or non-fading. A ‘richer’ shade of colour was sought by methods of purification or concentration through separation, grinding, washing, floatation, sieving, calcination or sintering.

Centre Le Corbusier, Zurich Wikipedia image by Author Absinthe.

Since prehistoric period it was also clearly known that richness of the colour lies in the contrast it creates with the nearby colour. Such an understanding of colour value is known only to the actual user of the colour and not to lay persons who can philosophize the effect. Realizations are not necessarily visual percepts. Through such attempts of definition first theories of colours began to emerge. Greek philosopher Aristotle related colours (as maintained in De colouribus) to the four elements: air, water, earth and fire. But then he was not a visual art practitioner.

“For air and water are naturally white in themselves, while fire and the sun are golden. The earth is also naturally white, but seems coloured because it is dyed. This becomes clear when we consider ashes; for they become white when the moisture which caused their dyeing is burned out of them; but not completely so, for they are also dyed by smoke, which is black. In the same way sand becomes golden, because the fiery red and black tints the water. The colour black belongs to the elements of things while they are undergoing a transformation of their nature”. -Aristotle’s realizations of colours.

Aristotelian world of Colours Land Sky Water Wikipedia image by Author Ikhlas Qassmi 13336

Since Aristotle’s time such ‘subjective realizations’ have found little favour with the art painters. Their triad of colours was of Red-Yellow-Blue of pure colours or un-creatable shades. But for many years, black and white remained baffling ‘colours’. One could mix few colours to match a ‘near-black’, but the same was not possible for white or ‘near-white’. The ‘disappearance of colours’ on a flying wheel and perception a white was not yet logically connected to this perplexity. It had to wait for Newton to explain it. Many painters before 1600s have written about creating and using colours, their ability to consistently reformat the same colour and also their inability to reformat the same shade in spite of all care and documented formulations. Describing a colour was even harder than creating it. The writings fail on how to state a colour shade. Colours have had only metaphoric interpretations.


Colour chart by Franciscus Aguilonius (1567-1617)

The Red-Yellow-Blue colour triad was the painters’ logic of defining the colours as per the visual experience. Franciscus Aguilonius (1567-1617) a physicist disputed Aristotle’s theory or rather the philosophy of colours. He devised a better method of identifying and arranging the colours. Colour arrangement was of placing 5 colours White – Yellow – Red – Blue – Black, at the bottom, and mixes of these forming the riser. He included the Red, Yellow and Blue which became the forerunner of other systems that function in a similar way. This was a chart, and not a colour wheel.

Wikipedia image > Goethe’s symmetric colour wheel with associated symbolic qualities (1809)

Aron Sigfrid Forsius (1611), a Finnish born astrologer, priest and neo-Platonist, and contemporary of Franciscus Aguilonius, derived a drawn colour arrangement with five main colours: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue and Grey, all placed for their affinity to Black or White. This, however, was going to change some 60 years later. In 1672, Newton showed the optical quality of colours, as a spectrum of seven colours. This was very different from earlier attempts of visual gradations of colours. This interpretation was challenged, by Goethe in the ‘Theory of Colours’ (1810). For him it was important to understand the human reaction to colour, compared with Newton’s science supported explanation. But at that time there were few takers for it. Newton first divided the spectrum in five main colours red, yellow, green, blue and violet but later included orange and indigo, to analogize with the seven notes in a musical scale, and perhaps the solar system, and days of the week.

A linear representation of the visible light spectrum wikipedia image by Author Gringer

Richard Waller in Stockholm published a list of 119 colours arranged from ‘dark to light shades’ in seven columns each topping with a basic colour. Jacob Christian Schäffer a German a natural historian and inventor wanted some standard format (Table of physiological colours, mixed and Simple, in 1686) that would permit unambiguous descriptions of the colours of natural bodies. This was the beginning of naming, identifying and graphically specifying the colours.

probably Claude Boutet’s 7-color and 12-color color circles Wikipedia image



Post 263 ⇒   by Gautam Shah  →


Glass has been used in architecture in THREE major ways. It has been used as a space moulding surface material, environment controller and for the metaphysical allusions.

Central Library Seattle Washington

Architecture has always been manifestation of surfaces. The surfaces have been predominantly opaque and omnipresent. This aspect has been sought to be dissolved in many different manners. The textural character of the built mass with its varying shadows has enlivened the surface. Structures like the pyramids or the burial chambers of Newgrange were monotonous, because the texturing elements were too small for the extent of the surface. The surfaces of later structures were further surface- modulated with incised with figures, writings or colour variations of materials. Large variegation of gaps, openings and massive impositions of columns and projections further dissolved the monolithic character of the form.

Chichen Itza pyramid Mexico

The diffusion of outer skin of a building was not desirable. In Egyptian or the Indian temples it exposed the inner areas to weather. The surface conversions for texturizing must remain an overt change, and for that reason an envelope was required. The envelope in Parthenon and other buildings were exterior surface composition. The inner core, covered by the outer skin had little need for surface treatment.

Erechtheion of the Acropolis, Athens

The monolithic nature of building and its surface character began to change with additions of functional units, such as wings, blocks, towers, campaniles and ambulatory spaces. The openings were made emphatic with various architectonic elements.

St. Michael’s Church, Hildesheim Architectural elements moulding the form

Abbaye Cerisy le Foret, Normandy, France Architectural elements moulding the form

The building’s exterior surface was fairly complex arrangement of forms. The interior surfaces though remained moderately plain, devoid of any play of architectural features. Interior surfaces of the Santa Sophia, Constantinople, were masked with bends of various materials, tying up openings, columns, etc.


Santa Sophia Interior Surface Treatment > Wikipedia image by Dean Strelau

 The Glass was not yet a force as a space moulding surface material. Its size was small, life short, quality inferior and very costly. It was just an illumination element that allowed, light without rains, winds minus the cold or warmth. It replaced parchment, alabaster, etc. The walls were massive to allow large sized openings. The framing techniques with stone, wood, and lead caulking were poor.

By Romanesque period there was realization that Glass is a good controller of environment. It could simultaneously protect and illuminate the interiors. Other realization was that, glassed openings shone at night, giving a brilliant recognition to the architecture. The same glass during day time, in spite of colour staining had lusterless or dull metallic grey face.

Strasbourg Cathedral, France The glass face during day time from outside was dull metallic grey surface

The interiors of the buildings of religious order were mural painted, but for that to be seen day time illumination was required. The openings seemed narrow in proportionately heavy thickness of walls. The resolution to this was in chamfering the inner edges of sides, sills and in instances lintel heads. This method gave a ‘sense’ of a larger source of illumination. For paintings on both long walls to be visible, the openings had to be on opposite walls. The placement of openings broke the continuity of the story telling board -the murals.

St Malachys Church, Castlewellan, Chamfered edges of windows enhance the brightness

The basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna –For wall art to be seen Windows on opposite face are necessary

Glass had its own tinge of colour which affected the colour scheme of the wall art. One way of diluting the tinge effect was to produce glass as thin as possible. This was done by blowing glass cylinders or bulbs and flattening them. This glass had imperfections that marred the visual clarity. The blown glass panes when placed in lower sections of the building distorted the scenery. Some form of occluding was required. Dwellings began to have sheer curtain masking, and in religious stained and painted glasses were used.