• Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
  • Page:
  • Words:

Color Application Techniques

Color Application Techniques

Claudia, Spartacus and the robots Artist: Kate Beynon

Color creates a visual appeal on an object. The key elements of color enable an artist to convey his/her intend message to the audience. Tone, texture, orientation, form/shape and line are the main visual elements of color, which artists combine to create an image or object. According to Shillito (1979), these visual elements are described as visual grammar since they have the power to impact a viewer’s perception on an object. During color application, the visual elements of color interact and influence an audiences’ judgment on: balance, depth and proportion, unity-variety, and rhythm and movement (Shillito, 1979). As a result, the color combination technique used by an artist will determine how the audience will judge a design or an object.

Kate Beynon incorporates the use of complimentary colors by using blue, orange, maroon and light dark colors in her painting of Claudia, Spartacus and the robots. Through this approach, Beynon has managed to create color harmony that allows her painting to communicate the different cultural significance of each element presented in the painting. Beynon uses different elements of color to represent her English and Chinese cultural background.

The color application and technique used by Beynon has combined various approaches to form a complete image through including individual characteristics. The visual elements incorporated in the painting successfully convey the artist’s ideas through cultural diversity. She uses living and non living things to represent the cultural diversity. For example the robots present the Western culture while the Chinese woman represents China and its cultural attributes. The color application technique is used to unify all subjects in the painting and create balance and harmony.

The artist adopts the concept of variety to by unifying color, form, line and tone to represent the diverse nature of her subject. Shillito (1979) explains that variety is a principle of design that is used in showing contrast. Beynon successfully shows the use of variety as part of her painting by incorporating different shapes, sizes and color. By using the figure of a Chinese woman, as the main subject of her painting, and using different subjects in the form of robots at the background, Beynon communicates the diversity and contrast in her painting. She effectively uses the colors blue and red to illustrate perspective. Repetition and varying orientation in colors and shapes unify the background images to the main subject of the painting.

Albers (1963) mentions that the complementary use of color suggests simultaneous contrast. Beynon has achieved this by embodying the use blue, orange and dark colors as complementary colors to create a contrast. Her intense use of color is expressive as it is imbued with color symbolism. For instance, the artist uses different shades of red in the painting which is commonly used among the Chinese in their traditional attires. According to Blumer (1969) color is used to convey symbolic association and meaning. In this painting, Beynon uses color, shape and size to tie all the subjects presented in the image as a means of illustrating the individual and cultural differences communicated.

The contrast in the shape and sizes of the robots at the back create a visual effect of rhythm and movement which further enhances the depth and proportion of the painting. To create visual tempo for the audience, Beynon has carefully placed repeated elements. This is evident in how she includes images of different types of robots in the painting and defining their uniqueness through varying shapes and color. She has effectively used repetition in form and line to distinguish the transition from cultural difference to individual differences. According to Gestalt theory, the structural layout of an object is unified by specific properties that an artist uses to than the individual parts (Hudson, 2006). For instance, in this painting, the artist incorporates the use of different form and line to assist its audience in understanding the complete meaning of the painting as opposed to the individual elements presented in it.

The principle of movement in design creates the feeling of motion in a piece of art work which further guides the viewer in understanding the art by synthesizing the artist’s message through visual perception (Gage, 2000). Beynon has combined the gradual changes in shape and size in the painting to form movement. She uses gradation to gradually change large shape to small shapes and dark hue to light hue. This is clear by the way she presents the different types of robots at the back of the image by using different tones of color and distinct size of each robot. Additionally she unifies the painting by connecting the robots to the figure of the woman through using the dark hues of orange, reds and blues of each robot to the woman. The transition from dark hues to light hues can also be seen as the artist uses light dark colors to connect the robots to the entire piece.

The repetition in the color application technique is clear in how the artist has arranged the images in the picture. This way the audience is able to configure the greater meaning of the painting as the artist uses rhythm and movement to influence the perception of a viewer. Beynon combines the similar elements in the painting to create a continued narrative. Furthermore, artists use the principle of contrast to emphasize the differences between elements while using the proportion to refer to the relationship between the different aspects of the painting to each other and to the whole. By combining these visual features, the artist has created a compositional structure which communicates the cultural and individual diversity in the painting.


Color application is used in art to influence a viewer’s opinion and perception. The use of color to create an image determines the response of its audience as each color used has a symbolic association. As a result, artists use color to effectively convey their intend message to their audience. Kate Beynon has successfully incorporated different colors in her painting to create a visual element. She has achieved this by using the different attributes of color to show cultural association and diversity. Her application technique has allowed her to create rhythm and movement which assists her audience in following the narrative told by her painting. Moreover, from her painting viewers can easily identify with the inspiration behind it and what she intends for her viewers to understand from the painting.


Albers, J. (1963). The interaction of color. New Haven, NY: Yale University Press.

Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Gage, J. (2000). Colour and Meaning: Art, science, and symbolism. London: Thames & Hudson. Green-Armytage, P. (2006). The value of knowledge for color design. Color Research and Application, 31 (4), 253-269.

Shillito, P. (1979). Shillito Design School syllabus: Recollections of Zena Stefanek, SDS student from 1977 to 1979. Sydney: Shillito Design School..