Mary Gartside was a  water colourist and colour theorist whose essay on light and shade provides guidance for female artists on colour mixing and colour theory.

I particularly like the ‘diagrams’ she produced for showing all the colours that a particular hue can produce (shown above). Because she was using water colour paints the tonality and wash across the colours makes beautiful blobs of abstract colour with a dominating prevalence of green. They are so different from any of the other colour diagrams I’ve come across but there is a definite sense of order with the darker tones to the right, a concentration of the hue colour in the centre and lighter shades to the left. She classified her colours in terms of temperature (warm and cold) and value (light and dark).

As a botanical artist she also referenced colour changes in nature. She was working at a tie when new ranges of pigments were available to artists dues to changes in pigment production. She is the only colour theorist I have come across.

Gartside referenced the work of Moses Harris and Isaac Newton and ‘predated ideas which Goethe elaborated on in much greater detail, such as the effect of colour combinations, the significance of light and shade in relation to tints, and the eye of the beholder as the centre and origin of colour perception.’ (Alexandra Loske- Sussex University)

You can read her essay here and published research by Alexandra Loske here.

Primary Colours identified: Red, yellow, violet and blue

Colour Diagrams: Washes of colour hues and a Colour Ball

Mary Gartside yellow color composition from her book an essay on light and shadeMary Gartside white colour composition from her book an essay on light and shadeMary Gartside Violet colour composition from her book an essay on light and shadeMary Gartside Scarlet composition from her essay on light and shadeMary Gartside Orange Composition from her book An essay on light and shadeMary Gartside Green composition from her book An Essay on Light and ShadeMary Gartside Crimson composition from her book an Essay on Light and ShadeMary Gartside Blue compostiion from her book An Essay on Light and Shade

 

 

 

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