Color: Alexandra Borders


This is page 12 from Maira Kalman’s “The Principles of Uncertainty.” Kalman, Maira. The Principles of Uncertainty. New York: Penguin Press, 2007. Print.

Color plays an important role in not only art and images, but in life as a whole. Color relies entirely on perception, changing based on a person’s social and cultural exposure. Color is a design aspect that can alter the entire meaning of a piece of work with a mere shift, and can appeal to different people in different ways.

From The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman, this picture shows the portrait of a woman, posing presumably for her picture to be taken or painted. Kalman chose to give this picture a golden-yellow background – a darker shade of yellow with splashes of white tinting it. This gives different hues, adding more depth to the background, instead of making it look like a flat yellow backdrop.

With the background, the woman is painted with an orange dress, which is patterned in red, yellow and white. The choices of color for the woman’s dress and for the background of the picture work cohesively together, making it seem like a well thought out piece, in terms of color. The orange, red and yellow stand as analogous colors, which means they are hues next to one another on the color wheel. And the fact that these hues are warm colors adds to the meaning of the picture, conveying stronger emotion, such as excitement or passion, despite the woman’s stoic facial expression. These colors help viewers respond more emotionally to the piece of art.

In addition, Kalman gives the woman an enlarged hat that is black and white. Her decision to use these acts majorly as a dramatic statement, making the black and white stand out against each other strongly. This contrast works well because they can perceived as opposites, which gives the picture a different kind of focal point, also contrasting noticeably against the yellow background.

Overall, Kalman’s color choices on this page demonstrate how colors can work together to show she thoughtfully used colors that would form the picture and contrast in an interesting way.

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