Combining Line & Colour

2000 Colour Combinations Aaron Tunney Bridget Riley color colour Garth Lewis hex codes johannes Itten Line Luscher Color Test P. Syme The Paint Picker app Victoria Finlay Werner Werner's Nomenclature of Colours

The last two few weeks I have been sharing my love of colour. We have been exploring what the Colour Wheel is, how it has evolved over time while zeroing on the specific schemes derived from the wheel and the importance of colour in compositions and the hues that catch our attention.  

You might not believe that I love colour since my ceramic work is often glazed in matted neutrals or glossy whites but in my early teaching days, I was a painter, even though sculpture was my preferred discipline. After university, painting was more practical in terms of space and supplies, plus I was able to put into action all the things about colour I was teaching.  Colour was and is the backbone to so many art and craft projects. 


Another staple in the art and craft tool box is the element of LINE. Line is considered any mark that starts at one point and ends at another. It can be sketchy or slick, straight or flowing. It can be structural like the lines of the Eiffel Tower, the outline of a silhouette, or compositional as lines within a composition lead our eyes throughout a work of art. 

There are five types of line: 


Each line type has an emotional response connected to it that is triggered when we see it in abundance. Can you guess which type of line is associated with each of the following terms: action or readiness, strength and stability, flowing peacefulness, agitated tension and calmness?

To illustrate the 5 types of line and to be able to better understand their emotional responses, we will take a look at the Op Art paintings by Bridget Riley. Op Art or Optical Art uses line and geometric shapes to create sensations of movement or colour. Bridget Riley in particular, focused on optical science and meticulously planned out her compositions and colours. She is 89 years young and lives and works in England and France. The works shown span from the 1962 to 2011. Keep in mind that colour can also affect our emotions, so try to focus on the linear patterns only. 

Bridget Riley Rose Rose
Bridget Riley Rose Rose 2011
Bridget Riley Ra 1981
Bridget Riley Ra 1981
 Bridget Riley Painting with 2 Verticals 3
Bridget Riley Painting with 2 Verticals 3
Bridget Riley Twisted Curve in Single Reverse 1979
Bridget Riley Twisted Curve in Single Reverse 1979
Bridget Riley Blaze 1962
Bridget Riley Blaze 1962



What do you think? Do each of Bridget Riley's painting evoke these emotions?

  • Horizontal - Calmness
  • Vertical - Strength & Stability
  • Diagonal - Action & Readiness
  • Curved - Flowing Peacefulness
  • Zigzag - Agitated Tension

 Art is open to interpretations, so, if you disagree that's okay. 



Lines also have different variations and qualities that artists, designer and artisans exploit in their wares.

  • Thick
  • Thin
  • Long
  • Short
  • Straight
  • Flowing
  • Sketchy
  • dotted
  • Continuous
  • Fine
  • Coarse

Riley manipulates the line weight as she uses thick and thin, long and short while gradually transitioning form one to the other especially in the last two paintings. Her lines are straight or flowing, fine and continuous. 



Combining colours does not have to be guess work. There are books and apps to help you out.  I also created a Colour Theory Workbook to help you out with your own future projects.  

If you are interested in learning about where the pigments that create dyes and paints come from I highly recommend Victoria Finlay's books. 

The Brilliant History of Color in Art, a coffee-table book filled with luscious images, is rich in vibrancy with the origins of pigment (some may make you squeamish) and the history of its manufacture (some will make you think twice about using it).  Rating - 5 Stars!

victoria finlay the brilliant history of color in art

For a more in-depth look, go for Finlay’s Colour: Travels Through the Paint Box, which brings you on a quest for and journey towards pigments around the world. Did you notice the two different spellings, Colour and Color?  Olde English influences the spelling in the commonwealth versus the U.S. economic spelling with its Less is More approach. What a chore it must be to change the spelling within books in the changing target markets.  As a Canadian, I prefer Colour. I like to think of the U in colour as UR personal invitation to think about what colours U want to use.  

victoria finlay colour travels through the paintbox

FYI, I was able to get the first one at my local library and it led me to purchase her more in-depth one. There are great stories in it. Rating - 5 Stars!

If you are ready for a deep dive into colour, go for Itten’s The Elements of Colour.  In it, he identifies seven fundamental categories of colour contrast: hue, light-dark, cold-warm, complementary, analogous, saturation and extension.  Colours are blocked in a visually stunning and methodical way. This was a standard post secondary textbook. I think we had two copies in my home, one was mine and one was my sister's who studied Interior Design. A former teacher colleague also had her own copy.   Rating - 5 Stars!

itten the elements of color 

Another 5 Star Recommendation is 2000 Colour Combinations for Graphic, Textile and Craft Designers by Garth Lewis. I love this book and take it out often for students to peruse as they think about potential colour schemes. Just flipping through it for 2 minutes gets my imagination swirling with amazing colours. Rating - 5 Stars!


2000 colour combinations garth lewis


An interesting book first published in 1814, is Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours by P. Syme.  If Google Ratings were a thing back then, this book would have received a 5-Star review from Charles Darwin. It was the book he took with him to describe colours in nature on his HMS Beagle voyage. I personally found the book a bit dull and lacking in value for its cost.  Perhaps, I have not yet connected with my inner Green Thumb and prefer my imagined view of the colours in nature. One day, I hope to explore the colour names within and how they connect to the world at large. Rating - 3 Stars!

  werner nomanclature of colours


werner nomanclature of colours


The Luscher Color Test reveals your personality type through colour selections based on stimulus and psychological colour meanings. 

Luscher color test

luscher colour test

In the book, you select the 8 colours in a sequence, once then twice, to reveal 10 different personality descriptions. I shall not be telling you what he thinks each colour means, as I do not want to influence your decisions should you wish to take the test. I don't want to tempt fate by rating this book. 

If you would like to explore this without the book, there is an app for it but it's not as robust. In the App Store, type in Luscher Color Test and select this icon. Note that the name of the app is not Luscher but the test within is his. 

<p>The Luscher Color Test</p> <ul> <li>Activity level</li> <li>Desired Goal</li> <li>Current State</li> <li>Restrained Character Traits</li> <li>Stress factors</li> </ul> 

The Luscher Color Test app will reveal the following about you:

  • Activity Level
  • Desired Goal
  • Current State
  • Restrained Character Traits
  • Stress Factors

If you do the test, and you want to know what the book says about your first colour choices, shoot me a message and I'll let you know (privately).  


Finally, the app I would recommend is called The Paint Picker - A tool for miniature painters, created by Aaron Tunney. It shows you all the matching colours for any colour in an expansive colour wheel. Just drag your cursor over any colour and it reveals the hex code and matching colours for its Complementary, Split Complementary, Triadic, Tetradic and Analogous combinations.  I did not go over Tetradic - but I know you will be able to sort it out if you see the examples. Once you explore this free app you will see its potential and it could end up being a great resource for your future colour adventures.    Rating - 5 Stars! 

                                       the paint picker app aaron tunney



Current subscribers will be getting the New LINE WORKBOOK which includes essential information about line and an opportunity to create linear patterns and designs and add colour schemes with all your new knowledge and app support. 


It's super easy to get one too. Click to join - COUNT ME IN! 

When you do, you will get your LINE WORKBOOK with the welcome email plus an added bonus Colour Theory Workbook.     

You can make beautiful things.

I hope you do! 

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