Exploring Colour: Red

Gutenberg Bible.jpg

In this edition of the bible, one of the first to be printed with movable metal type, you can see how red is used to provide emphasis. As far back as this version of the bible, red was traditionally used as the printers second colour of ink after black.

Task 1

You will need: pencils, paper, an arrangement of red objects
Produce a still life based on the arrangement of red objects. Consider how you will mix convincing shadow and highlights in the hues of red in the still life.

A number of reds are important in the artists pallet,

different reds

1. Cadmium red

The Cadmium mineral is used to make a range of colours. Cadmium red is very vibrant. In air it will slowly lose it’s colour over time. It can be seen in the snow in the Wheatstacks by Claude Monet.

1278 Wheatstacks (Sunset, Snow Effect), 1890-91, 65.3 x 100.4 cm, 25 11-16 x 39 1-2 in., The Art Institute of Chicago.jpg

2. Vermillion red

This is a brilliant scarlet pigment made from a mineral cinnabar, almost as rare and expensive as Lapis Lasuli (see the lesson on Blue) Over time it’s known to darken as can be seen in this painting by Uccello, the Battle of San Romano

Paolo Uccello 035.jpg

3. Venetian Red

This is an earthy red, in it’s pure form it’s made from Ferric Oxide and takes the colour of rust. It was used in mixing some skin tones particularly in Italian Renaissance painting.

The reds listed above are particularly important to artists however a whole list of reds can be found here.

Task 2

You will need: scissors glue and paper magazines and newspapers
Try to collect as many different hues of red in printed matter. try to group them based on the samples you can see here.

Pablo Picasso, 1905, Acrobate et jeune Arlequin (Acrobat and Young Harlequin), oil on canvas, 191.1 x 108.6 cm, The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.jpg

Picasso’s work is often divided between different epochs, after his ‘blue’ period he moved into a period focussing on cheerful vivid tones of red orange pink and earth tones, often called the ‘rose’ period. This period of his life involved the depiction of clowns and circus performers, but also experiments that would reappear throughout his career.

Task 3

You will need: colored pencils or paints, brushes and paper and a red object
Firstly wIthout looking at the object, try to match the hue of the object from memory. After you have mixed the hue, compare to the actual object. Mix the colour with the object in front of you and observe any difference.