Itten's Color Theory

Color Contrasts
There are seven different kinds of contrasts.

1.  Contrast of Hue
2.  Light-Dark Contrast
3.  Cold-Warm Contrast
4.  Complementary Contrast
5.  Simultaneous Contrast
6.  Contrast of Saturation
7.  Contrast of Extension

Keep in mind that no piece of artwork makes use of only one type of contrast.   However one type is usually dominates the piece.

Contrast of Hue
Contrast of Hue occurs when a hue or color is separated and outlined by black or white lines.

White lines weakens the 'strength' and appearance of the color. 
Furthermore, the colors around the white lines wold seem darker.

A black line strengthens the appearance of the color.  Also, the colors around the black lines would seem lighter.

Light Dark Contrast
Light dark contrast is contrast between light values and dark values.

Cold-Warm Contrast
Cold-warm contrast refers to the contrast between cool and warm colors.  Cools colors consist of blue, green and purple.   Warm colors consist of red, orange and yellow.

Complimentary Contrast
Complimentary Contrast refers to the contrast between complimentary (opposite) colors.   Complimentary colors are those that are directly opposite to each other on the color wheel.

Simultaneous Contrast
It is the contrast between two colors that are almost complimentary, but not exactly.   It is contrast between a color and another color that is to the right of left of its compliment.

Satisfaction to the eye requires harmonic balance of the colors. If the colors of something you're looking at were not balanced, the eye would tinge colorless, gray, or pure colors with the compliment of the colors next to it.  Therefore, the reality of the color is effect by it's surrounding color, and would appear that is has shifted towards it's surrounding color's compliment.   In other words, a color would look different than what it really is.   This effect gives a feeling of excitement and lively vibration of colors of changing intensities.

Contrast of Saturation
The term refers to the contrast between pure intense colors and dull diluted or grayed colors.   Dull colors would appear to be duller when it is placed next to pure intense colors, and pure intense colors would appear move vivid when it is next to a dull color.

Contrast of Extension
Different amounts of one color are needed to blance another.     The contrast of extension is used to refer to contrast between the proportion of one area of color to another.


Color Expression
As you might have known already, different colors give different feelings and different messages.

Here is a list of colors and how they are often used symbolically

Light giving, gold symbolizing the beyond, sun and light, understanding, knowledge.  Pale yellow shows envy, betrayal, falseness, doubt, distrust and unreason.

Red-orange is dense and opaque showing fiery strength,  an expression of  belligerent passion,  red orange on black is a unconquerable demonic passion.   Red-purple connotes spiritual love.  Red on lemon yellow is a dark subdued force.   Red on dark pink is a quiet extinguishing heat.  Red on brown flares with a dry heat.

Blue is always passive from the point of view of material space but is active in terms of spiritual immateriality.  In many cultures, blue symbolizes immortality.  Dimmed or darkened blue falls into superstition, few and grief.

Green gives the impression of fruitfulness, contentment, and hope.  Grayed green has a sense of sad decay.  Yellow greens have a feel of a young vigorous force of nature.

Maximum radiant activity, proud external ostentation

Color of the unconscious, mysterious, impressive and sometimes oppressive. Purple also represents royalty.  Light violet gives a feeling of the terrors of the end of the world and  piety.

In general, all tints (light colors) represents the brighter and better aspects of life, while all shades (dark colors) represent all the darker, sad, and negative forces.

E l e m e n t s
Color | Value | Line | Texture | Shape | Form | Space

P r i n c i p a l s
Balance | Emphasis | Harmony | Variety | Gradation
Movement | Rhythm | Proportion

T e r m s
Look for more terms here