Michael Craig-Martin

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Official website



Sir Michael Craig-Martin (born 28 August 1941) is an Irish-British contemporary conceptual artist and painter. He is noted for fostering the Young British Artists, many of whom he taught, and for his conceptual artwork, An Oak Tree. He is Emeritus Professor of Fine Art at Goldsmiths. His memoir and advice for the aspiring artist, On Being An Artist, was published by London-based publisher Art / Books in April 2015.

His art is characterised by flat colour and line.

Gary Hume

Tate images

Gary Hume paints large abstract paintings of people and everyday life, with expressive use of colour and sensuous shapes in enamel paint and impasto.


2.4 A Rose by another name: Phlomis

4.1: Caricature and Character: Bob Geldof

Overview of life and work

STOUT, K. (ed.) 2013. Gary Hume, London: Tate Publishing.


Gary Stewart Hume was born in 1962 in Tenterden, Kent.

Late 1980s: In 1988 he graduated from Goldsmiths College where he was one of the ‘YBAs’. His work was included in both Freeze, an exhibition organised by Damien Hirst in 1988, and East Country Yard, a warehouse exhibition organised by Henry Bond and Sarah Lucas in 1990.

Hume has become known for depicting everyday subjects using high-gloss industrial paints.[4] His earliest notable works are his “door paintings”, life-size representations of hospital doors. These proved a critical success, being shown in Germany and the United States, as well as attracting the attention of collector Charles Saatchi. Hume’s work was included in the 1995 exhibition Brilliant!, a showcase of work by YBA artists. In 1997, his work was included in Sensation, a touring show of the Charles Saatchi art collection at the Royal Academy, London.

Hume abandoned doors in the mid-1990s, turning to paintings in household gloss paint on aluminium panel, for these often used appropriated images, including pictures of celebrities (e.g. DJ Tony Blackburn) and animals. Their forms and colours are dramatically simplified, with people being reduced to just two or three colours. Snowman (1996), for example, is made up of three shades of red, showing a circle on top of a larger circle against a lighter background. At first, Hume used mainly bright colours, but later pieces have used more muted tones.

Around 2005, Hume revisited his Door pictures, this time anthropomorphising the doors, arranging them into pairs of lovers and giving them the titles The Couple and The Argument.[5] Hume’s “Yellow Window,” [6] from 2002, broke records when sold at auction at Christie’s.[7] The work inspired a later limited edition entitled “1000 Windows,” produced for London’s Tate Modern in 2013.[8]

Besides his London studio, Hume maintains a second studio in a converted barn on the grounds of a former chicken farm in New York’s Catskill Mountains region.[9]

Philosophy and approach to painting[edit]

In 2012, Hume made an exhibition titled ‘Indifferent Owl’. Speaking about his work in 2011, Hume had stated, ‘Where I live in New York, there’s a wood. I heard an owl in the night. Next day I found one of those “Happy Birthday” balloons caught in the trees. It had almost deflated. I imagined the owl, utterly indifferent, watching the balloon float by as it slowly collapsed. That’s how I see life. I’m the owl, totally disengaged as the balloon bobs by…’[10]

Water Painting, 1999, Tate Collection. Part of Hume’s “Water” Series of paintings.


Hume represented Great Britain at the 1999 Venice Biennale, where he showed his Water series, a number of superimposed line drawings of women (again, these were gloss paint on aluminium). His work was the subject of a one-person exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, London, in 1999. Later monographic shows of Hume’s work were organised at the Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, and the Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, in 2004, and Modern Art Oxford mounted a survey show of his Door paintings in 2008.[11]


In 1996, Hume was nominated for the Turner Prize, but lost out to Douglas Gordon. He was later awarded Great Britain’s 1997 Jerwood Painting Prize.[12] Hume was elected a Royal Academician in 2001.

Colour theory

In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is – as it physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art.

Albers  Interaction of Color 1963 p1

Our perception of colour depends on both physical factors relating to the way the eye registers light and more psychological and cultural factors that affect the way the brain reacts to and interprets colours and their relationships to each other.

Artists and designers have used and experimented with complexities and ambiguities in interactions between physical and psychological dimensions of colour to portray emotions and question the nature of perception. They may choose to focus on local or optical colour.

Some key implications of colour theory for illustration:

  • Artists may choose to focus on local or optical colour. Or use completely arbitrary colours to impose their own feelings and interpretation onto the image.
  • Tone is perceived first, then colours (yellow first), and then the image. Using flat primary colours will detract attention from the image – making colour the subject and tending towards abstraction of shapes.
  • Optical mixing is inevitable as the brain interprets colours, successive and simultaneous contrast.
  • Consider the effects of using strokes around shapes to increase or reduce colour vibration effects.
  • Precisely replicating colours across different media is difficult (eg RGB and CMYK) and devices (different printers and monitors).
  • It is desirable to allow for individual differences in perception eg colour-blindness or epileptic reactions. Some software allow for simulation of the ways in which images will be differently viewed.
  • It is important to be aware of cultural differences in interpretation of colour depending on ones audience.
  • All these factors affect the relationship between colours and harmony/tension in composition of an image and the ways in which the image as a whole will be interpreted.

Notes on Colour Theory

What follows brings together my notes and experimentation from previous painting, photography and printmaking courses and updates these notes as relevant for this course. See references at then end.

Physical factors


Light consists of rays of different wavelengths. When light strikes a surface, certain wavelengths are absorbed and others are reflected by its pigments. Different combinations of reflected wavelengths form all the observed colours.

Eye to brain

As light passes into the eye it strikes the retina at the back of the eye which consists of layers of cells including:

  • rods – that perceive black and white and allow us to see dimly lit forms
  • cones – that help us perceive hues. The cones in the eye only recognise red (long wavelengths), blue-violet (short wavelengths) and green (middle wavelengths). They relay these colour messages to the cones of the fovea, an area at the centre of the retina, whose cones transmit to the brain.

The brain then assimilates the red, blue-violet and green impulses and mixes them into a single message that informs us of the colour being viewed.

Perceptions of colour vary significantly between individuals depending on eye and brain biology eg degrees of blindness to particular colours, ways in which stimuli pass along the optic nerve etc.

There are many other factors affecting our perception of a colour, such as:

  • the surroundings of the object
  • its surface texture
  • the lighting conditions under which it is seen.

How much of a colour is used, whether it is bright, dull, light or dark, and where it is placed in relation to another colour are also crucial factors in our perception. A distinction is usually made between:

  • local colour: the wavelengths that are reflected by a surface under conditions of white light
  • optical colour: the combination of local colour with light striking it and other surrounding colours


Dimensions of colour

Pure hues: A colour without any black, grey, white or complementary is called a pure hue and occurs in Newton’s light spectrum.

  • Primary colours are those which cannot be mixed using other colours
  • Secondaries the result of mixing two primaries
  • Tertiary colours, the result of mixing secondaries with one of their adjacent secondaries.

Broken hues are the result of mixing these pure hues with their complement to produce browns and greys.

However there is significant variation between colour theorists as to how they identify primary colours, and also between additive methods (RGB used where light is added and where white is the result of mixing all light wavelengths) and subtractive methods (CMYK and pigment mixing as in printmaking or paint where black is the result of mixing all colours). Moreover pigments are rarely pure. The results from mixing also depend on the relative colour temperature of each of the colours being mixed.


The lightness or darkness of a hue, or tone. Pure hues vary in value from yellow (lightest) to violet (darkest) This means that  mixing them will also alter the value. If you squint when looking at two hues of similar value they will merge together. When pigments of equal value are mixed together this gives a darker value because more wavelengths are absorbed and fewer reflected.

Value changes convey texture, are used for shadows and form. Sharp contrasts in value produce the effect of precision, firmness, objectivity and alertness. Close values produce feelings of haziness, softness, quiet, rest, brooding etc. Dark compositions give feelings of night, darkness, mystery and fear. Light compositions of illumination, clarity and optimism. Middle values are relaxed and often go unnoticed.

Discords: when the value of a hue is altered by the addition of black, white or another colour opposite to its natural value order eg adding violet and white to make lavender.

intensity (also termed saturation or chroma) defines the degree of purity or brightness (as opposed to light) or how dull (as opposed to dark) a colour is.

Pure hues are those where there is no black, white or complementary colour added. When pure black or pure white are present they are noticed before the other hues and colours present. Pure hues differ in chroma strength – lighter hues have stronger chromatic strength. Pure hues can be dulled to coloured greys through adding grey of the same value. Or mixing with complementaries to produce a shade.

Neutral greys can be obtained through mixing false pairs – orange and green, green and violet, violet and orange. But they tend to favour one of the parent hues and are less powerful than those made by combining complementary hues. They can also be produced through layering.

Intensity can create effects on objects in space.

  • high intensities make an object seem large and pushes it forward in the visual field
  • light pure values like yellow advance most on a dark background and least on a white background
  • pure hues have a relative strength. if balance is required, they should be used in the right proportion.

Temperature refers to the warmness or coolness of colour.

  • Warm hues are reds and secondary and tertiary hues of red (warm yellows, yellow-orange, orange, orange-red, red and red-violet). Warm hues appear nearer to us and are generally more stimulating.
  • Cool hues are blues and secondary and tertiary hues of blue (cool lemon yellows,  greens and bluish violet. Cool hues appear further away and are generally more relaxing.

Cultural factors

Cultural background and experiences affect a colour’s impact.

Factors such as linguistic distinctions can affect perception of colour – in some languages there is no distinction between blue and green and so although people can distinguish when questioned they do not make an immediate distinction.

The ways in which colours are interpreted will vary between cultures and for different groups, and even from individual to individual. Even where colours are perceived similarly, they may mean different things – in Asian cultures white is associated with death. Red is associated with happiness and luck. In Western cultures black is associated with death and white with purity. Red is associated with danger and blood.

Colour associations are also influenced by the types of pigments available and their material value. For example:

  • blue   lapis lazuli for the madonna
  • purple   mollusc in ancient greece so royalty
  • ochres and earth colour
  • red vermillion:  marriage and luck in Asian cultures
  • black: means purity in Islamic cultures
  • white purity. turns away other colours.

Colour harmony

Colour harmonies have conventionally been categorised as:

  • Monochromatic: a single hue with its tints and shades produced by mixing with white, black (or its complement)
  • Analogous: three or more hues that are next to each other on the colour wheel. Analogous schemes are most emphatic when the common hue is primary. They are most harmonious when the middle hue is primary (eg red-orange, red, red-violet rather than orange, red-orange and red).
  • Complementary: colours opposite each other on the colour wheel. But different artists may use different colour wheels, complements are different between RGB and CMYK.
  • Split complementary: a colour and the two colours surrounding its complement.
  • Triad: equidistant on the colour wheel. These result in a dominance of warm or cool.
  • Quadrad: where the four hues are equidistant on the colour wheel.

However in recent years colour choices have become much more varied, partly because of artist experimentation to ‘break the rules’, different cultural influences and also because of the rise of digital software that enable the rapid generation of a range of colour options – for example Adobe colour.

Colour interactions

Itten and Albers studied the interaction between hues and the ways in which our perception of hues and tones is altered radically by the other colours surrounding them. The effects of interactions can be altered by using coloured strokes around shapes.

  • Successive contrast: perception of each colour is followed by perception of its complement as eye and brain adapt – this is seen by staring at a colour for some time then closing one’s eyes.
  • Simultaneous contrast: where adjacent colours interact with each other. Simultaneous contrast is most intense when the two colours are complementary colours.
  • Vibration where certain hues meet: Disappearing boundaries: where analogous hues meet. Dissolving boundaries: where broken hues meet
    This can be used to create mysterious effects. Or combatted using sharp edges.
  • Discords play a supporting role – they are easily overshadowed by colours that are not discorded, but they stop the tendency of hues to spread visually. Large areas in discorded colours should be avoided as they weaken a composition. But small areas reduce monotony. Light discords also produce the best highlights (because they are unexpected and attract attention??) The discord chosen should be based on the primary colour closest to the object featured in the highlight, or the next closest primary on the colour wheel.

When colours or shades of grey are sequenced in a composition leading from light to dark or dark to light then the eye is comfortable. But when the sequence is broken eg grey background, followed by white then black then the effect is jarring eg dramatic skies. El Greco View of Toledo.

Rhythm, repetition and movement

Repeating colours can lead the eye through a composition and create a sense of movement.

Emphasis can be accomplished by using colour in a number of ways

  • colour contrast: bright/dull, light/dark, warm/cool
  • area size: large areas of a colour versus small
  • texture: rough versus smooth
  • use of arbitrary colour
  • unusual detailing
  • contrast with surroundings

Harmony can be achieved through:

  • repetition
  • similarity
  • use of tonality
  • surrounding a colour with a neutral colour



Albers, J. (1963). Interaction of Colour. New Haven & London, Yale University Press.

Barringer, T., et al. (2012). David Hockney: A Bigger Picture. London, Royal Academy of the Arts.

Batchelor, D., Ed. (2008). Colour. London and Cambridge Mass., Whitechapel Gallery and the MIT Press.

Britain, T. (2013). Gary Hume. London, Tate Publishing.

Davis, G. (2008). 2000 Colour Palette Swatches : The Designer’s Toolkit. East Sussex, UK, ILEX.

Dobie, J. (1986). Making Color Sing : Practical lessons in Color and Design. New York, Watson-Guptill Publications.

Eiseman, L. (2000). Pantone Guide to Communicating with Colour. Cincinatti, Ohio, GRAFIXPRESS.

Feisner, E. A. (2000). Colour : How to Use Colour in Art and Design. London, Laurence King Publishing.

Gage, J. (1999). Colour and Meaning: Art, Science and Symbolism. London, Thames & Hudson.

Greenwood, K. (2015). 100 Years of Colour : Beautiful Images and Inspirational Palettes from a Century of Innovative Art, Illustration and Design. London, ILEX.

Hornung, D. (2005). Colour : a workshop for artists and designers. London, Laurence King Publishing.

Hudson, T. (2004). Hockney’s Pictures, Thames & Hudson.

Itten, J. (1961). The Elements of Colour. London, Wiley.

Jennings, S. (2003). Artists’ Colour Manual, Collins.

Livingstone, M. (2005). Patrick Caulfield. London, Lund Humphries.

Lynton, N. (2007). William Scott. London, Thames & Hudson.

Parker, A. (2005). Seven Deadly Colours: the Genius of Nature’s Palette. London, Natural History Museum.

Parker, S. (2016). Colour and Vision through the eyes of nature, London, Natural History Museum.

Roque, G. (2009). Art et Science de la Couleur: Chevreul et les peintres, de Delacroix a l’abstraction, Gallimard.

Sausmarez, J. de. (2008). Basic Colour : A Practical Handbook. London, Herbert Press.

Stevens, C. and A. Wilson, Eds. (2017). David Hockney. London, Tate Enterprises.

Wilcox, M. (1987). Blue and Yellow don’t make Green: How to mix the colour you really want – every time. Penrith, Australia, School of Colour Publications.

Zelanski, P. and M. P. Fisher (1989). Colour. London, Herbert Press.

Useful links

Color Matters wide general overview

Cambridge in colour – technical notes on colour perception, colour harmony and colour management for photographers.

Color Art has notes on vision science and art

Geoff Grandfield


Website http://geoffgrandfield.co.uk . (see particularly Narrative)

Caustic Cover Critic Interview

Geoff Grandfield is a British illustrator now living in London. He has worked with major newspapers and publishers since 1987.

Influenced by the cinematography of film noir and the reductivism of modernist graphic art, his work is characterised by carefully composed minimalist silhouettes and limited palette, exaggerated perspective and scale contrasts. The bold shapes and perspective have a very strong immediate impact. Other meanings and shapes are often hidden and it is only by following the lines that the meaning of images become revealed.

Grandfield draws with chalk pastel, usually the German make Schminke, and sometimes Talens. “When I work for black and white reproduction I use tones of grey. The tones have some ‘colour’ in them, but mostly I’m going by the weight and contrast between areas. Colour is another thing and I try to prioritise a particular set of colours for a result.” Since 2001 he has been using Photoshop to scan and prepare for reproduction, which in turn has changed the visual look of my work. He scans his originals at A4.

Flattened perspective

Towards the Houses
Home project
He was Already Dead
The man within


The Captain and the Enemy
The Honorary Consul
Our man in Havana


Fashion invite 2013
Fashion invite 2014
Fashion invite 2011
Fashion invite 2008

Patrick Caulfield

Patrick Caulfield Google images

Patrick Caulfield (1936–2005) was an English painter and printmaker.  He painted mostly everyday interiors and still life objects using geometric lines and/or thick black outlines and flat colour. Some are paintings or screenprints focus on evocative light and shape, experimenting with the effects of different combinations of, often vibrant, colours. Other works mix photorealism and flat images giving a haunting sense of fleeting moments, and a yearning for escape.

Caulfield’s extremely subtle art depends greatly on visual metaphor, on implication and absence, on visual clues that hint at things that are not overtly expressed, and which must be completed in the mind of the spectator…Giving solid visual form to intangible and ephemeral sensory experiences, and to equally slippery emotions’

Livingstone 2005 p9

I was first introduced to his work in 2013 through the simultaneous exhibitions of Patrick Caulfield and Gary Hume at Tate Britain, using his work as inspiration for multiplate linocuts for OCA Printmaking 1. His use of flat colour and line – playing with both colour effects and perspective as well as combinations of media to produce emotional effects are an area I explore in some of my illustrations. Including:

1.3 Colour Palettes: Pots and Pans

3.3 Girl Meets Boy


Selection of paintings to music.

Some paintings are very pared down – reaction against abstract expressionism. Often different modes of expression: realism and linear abstraction. Understands use of light. Turns the everyday into the intriguing. Rethinks structure of interiors within painting.

Discussion of ‘After Lunch’ and the poignancy of the contrast between the fantasy painting and the linear plain waiter and the detail of the chink of light with the chain going down to the kitchen. ‘Endless Loss’.

From the Tate exhibition. Contrasts Gary Hume and Patrick Caulfield. They both use flat colour and unreal perspective. Patrick Caulfield is associated with Pop Art. Sense of ‘fragility of the moment’ and ‘fleeting moment’ and escapism.

Overview of life and art

Livingstone, M. (2005). Patrick Caulfield, London, Lund Humphries.


Patrick Caulfield was born in west London.

1950s: he began his studies in 1956 at Chelsea School of Art, London

1960s: he continued at the Royal College of Art (1960–63), one year below the students identified as originators of Pop art and fellow students included David Hockney. Through his participation in the defining The New Generation exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1964, he became associated with Pop Art. However he resisted this label throughout his career, instead preferring to see himself as a ‘formal artist’ and an inheritor of painting traditions from Modern Masters such as Georges Braque, Juan Gris and Fernand Léger who influenced his composition and choice of subject matter.

In the early 1960s Caulfield’s painting was characterised by flat images of objects paired with angular black outlines or isolated against unmodulated areas of colour. He deliberately chose subjects that seemed hackneyed or ambiguous in time. See for example: Portrait of Juan Gris 1963 (Pallant House Gallery, Chichester);  Still Life with Dagger 1963 (Tate); Pottery 1969 (Tate); Bend in the Road 1967 (Collection of the Museé national d’historie et d’art, Luxembourg)

1970s : he began to create highly complex paintings that play with definitions of reality and artifice, combining different artistic styles including trompe l’oeil. His subject matter shifted to topics that directly engaged with the contemporary social landscape and the representation of modern life. See for example: After Lunch 1975 (Tate) features a photorealist image of the Château de Chillon hanging in a restaurant interior that is depicted in simple black outlines against a flat, two-toned background. Tandoori Restaurant 1971 (WAVE Wolverhampton Art Gallery)

1980s:  Caulfield began to insert Photorealistic elements into his characteristic pared down paintings, creating  a vivid sense of place within abstract elements. See for example: Interior with a Picture 1985–6 (Tate), Bishops 2004 (Private collection, London), Braque Curtain 2005 (Tate)

Major exhibitions during his lifetime included retrospectives at Walker Art Gallery Liverpool and Tate (both 1981), Serpentine (1992–3) and Hayward Gallery (1999). In 1993 he was elected a Royal Academician. In 2013 there were simultaneous exhibitions of Caulfield and Gary Hume at Tate Britain. (where I was first introduced to his work)