Friday, June 12, 2015

Everything I Know About Color I Learned from Watching Black & White Movies

Jane Greer and William Holden
Out of the Past
via The Film Stage

Black and White Movies made great use of contrast to create a sense of tension or drama in a scene. Dark played against light draw the eye to the action in or mood of the scene. Notice how your eye focuses on the faces above, you find yourself wondering, what is going to happen next?

Last Year at Marienbad via linstudio

Of course, painting a room in the same colors as the movie sets is not something you'd want. This set used the complementary colors of purple and yellow to produce depth, the colors produce a scene which appears to painted black and white, and mimick the look of the moulding. Shading of various shades of purple fools the eye into believing there is there is expensive moulding on the walls. Thus creating a sense of luxury for the room and allowing the white gown worn by the star to be perceived as white on screen, without disappearing against the walls, as would have happened had the walls actually been painted white.

The Colors in the Room, Last Year at Marienbad via The Criterion Collection

As contrast was used to create tension and drama in Film Noir movies, it can be used to draw the eye to the focal point of a room in your home, though in better colors. Occasionally, I use software to remove the color from a room. Reduced to the grayscale, the eye sees only the contrasts in the room.

Jane Lockhart, via Homebunch
Kendall Charcoal HC-166

Jane Lockhart, via Homebunch

The focal points are highlighted, the table, the plates on the wall and some features, the chandelier, for example, fade into the background. How different would this have looked had the table been all white with white chairs? 

Benjamin Moore, Caponata AF 650 on walls
Trim & Ceiling Chantilly Lace, OC-65
Guess what happens here? Yes, there is a lot of contrast, which is still visible in gray scale, but...
Benjamin Moore, Grayscale
The chartreuse book covers disappear. In grayscale, all of the books being of similar intensity look to be the same color.

Joanne Smith Design,
from Home and Garden Design Ideas

The island, lights and stools become one block of dark color, nearly the same intensity. The colorful greenery near the sink still has some contrast to the white cabinets, but there is little else to draw your eye away to the stove area. Though the first picture is refreshing and calm, the second, in grayscale, is loaded with drama.

Real Simple, via Inspired Hue

This one should come as no surprise. The blue-green and the gray are the same intensity. With no color, the white dishes barely stand out! However, this was a surprise:
via Inspired Hue

The door just doesn't stand out as much as it does in color! 

Mr. Blandings Dream Home, via

The door on Mr. Blandings house stands out as much or more! 
Candice Olson, Candice Tells All
Originally found on Buffalo Real Estate News

Candice Olson creates a fabulous room at once calm and full of drama. The fireplace stands out because of the use of high contrast with the book shelves, mirror, and lamps.

Bottom line is, to create a focal point consider contrast as much as color.  Choose paints with varying intensities. Say, a paint from the top of the strip for the trim, two shades darker for the rest of the room, and one from the bottom for an accent wall. Stand back and take a look, is there drama? If so, focal point done.

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