In Polarity and Polarité évolutive we referred to the fascinating aspect of opposites, especially regarding colour. I hesitate to use the term 'colour theory' because to me the phenomenon of colour seems far more factual than theoretical, even if colour is inexistent without light.
In teaching the rudiments of watercolour, for example, the appreciation of opposing colours and how to make use of them effectively is primordial.
To know how to observe and to be able to effectively reproduce or personalise what one sees are obviously also important. But in my view what is even more essential when beginning to teach this medium, is its nature, the effects one can obtain with colour relationships, with their natural blending, and with the often beautiful and luminous way watercolour dries leaving its 'searching border limits'.
This can be experimented very simply by carrying out small abstracts on pieces of watercolour paper without any use of line, (other than a free pencil line square or rectangular border (which also helps one to understand the importance of the positive and negative shapes created within) in order to appreciate the simple, natural, magic of watercolour.
In terms of teaching, when this is fully appreciated, the rest would be observation, practise, patience and skill. For most artists however, the latter aspects precede former colour experimentation.
Colour polarity awareness is more often than not instinctive for artists, and would be a secondary consideration, as would be the principles of perspective. But when you are fully aware that the cast shadow of a golden yellow haystack in sunlight on a similarly golden yellow surface will tend towards it's opposing colour of violet blending to a lighter electric blue with distance, you can exaggerate, build on this observation or simply ignore it.
With the same logic the shadow of an orange, or a red apple tinted with yellow will tend towards blue or turquoise green hues, and there will be reflected light, again of tints of the opposing colours on the shadow side of the orange or apple, as well as on the far side of the thrown shadows from the forms.
Fundamentally it's the difference between the warm colours of light gradations and the cool colours of shadow gradations influenced by the underlying colour of whatever form or surface is exposed to the grades of light or shadow.
As a medium, perhaps also because it depends on one of the basic elements, watercolour appears to reflect natural phenomena more vividly than other, more modifiable opaque media. If one can master watercolour, it's reasonable to believe that one would be able to master all forms of colour media on any appropriate surface. This, simply because watercolour is the most difficult and the most refined of such media.
Polarity as well as Polarité évolutive are both illustrated with colour diagrams showing the primary colours, then the secondary colours of which each is produced by mixing two primary colours. They are additionally the opposing colours of the primaries as explained in Polarity. The diagrams also show the final transparent hews of gold and silver each produced by a light mixture of two of the secondary colours.
These diagrams reflect the phenomenon of nature, as already referred to. How a green leaf, for example, will change to its opposing colour of red and finally become a transparent gold as it dries and becomes brittle. Colour polarity is apparent in sunrises and sunsets. Polarity is the basic concept of the elements, and of the seasons. Essentially it's the evolutive cycle of life.
Here we arrive at the infinite aspect of polarity. All life forms as well as the mechanism of the whole universe depend on polarity. Naturally the Earth; like every individual planet, depends on its own pole system. But as far as human life is concerned, the intrinsic mental polarity that determines our physical capacities naturally determines our behaviour and everything we do.
A blatant example could be illustrated by what Walter Scott once said that : 'Half of the world thinks that the other half is stupid'. The history of mankind seems to lend support to this irony.
Can one not affirm that everything depends on its opposite in order to have its own sense or reason of being? Again as referred to before, if everyone were equally wealthy, wealthiness would be relatively meaningless. Or if everyone were equally poor, poverty would be generally accepted as the normal state of existence. How can goodness or beauty be measured without their opposites? How can there be a notional Heaven without a notional hell? How can there be life without death? Can truth exist without falsehood? Or should one conclude that truth, being the nature of all things, must also englobe falehood?
I once cited the philosophical or religious idea that 'truth is not a colour, it's white light'. In other words it's made up of all the colours of the rainbow. Each colour is essential. So isn't everything and everyone essential? The italians say- 'il monde è bello perché è vario.' Yet one still obstinately defends one's political or ideological colour. One still proudly hoists one's own particular coloured flag, and would even plant it as a national 'claim' on a newly discovered, distant star. The politically ideological, the religious and the patriotic nature of humanity has ignited wars and forged the history of mankind since Adam and Eve.
Although our poor, misguided, mythic ancestors are the allegorical biblical source of humanity, their professed original sin, the source of good and evil, the resulting birth of civilisation and the obligation to acquire knowledge or eat apples in order to survive, would also naturally have been instigated, not only by planting an apple-tree, but by human physical and mental polarity.
Text © Mirino. Images © Mirino and Mathias (with thanks). February, 2014