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Analyzing Itten’s Color Theory in Painting

This essay concentrates on the topic about the seven color contrast which is drawn by a great Swiss expressionist painter named Johannes Itten. Thus, this paper would also render definite attention in analyzing and assessing the use of color in two different paintings which are made by two respective artists, through the use of the said seven color contrast done by Johannes Itten. The paper holds on to the purpose of comparing and contrasting the particular usage of color in the paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci (Virgin of the Rocks) and Jan van Eyck (The Arnolfini Portrait) by means of utilizing the color theory of Itten.

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The following would be discussed: • Understanding Leonardo Da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks • Discussion on Jan van Eyk’s The Arnolfini Portrait • The Virgin Rock and The Arnolfini Portrait At the end of the paper, this would render definite information that would accordingly differentiate Leonardo Da Vinci’s (Virgin of the Rocks) and Jan van Eyck’s (The Arnolfini Portrait) in terms of utilizing colors in their paintings. Understanding Da Vinci’s The Virgin of the Rocks.

Leonardo Da Vinci, as one of the great painters in the ancient history of painting, uses an approach and strategy in using color for the “Virgin of the Rocks” and/or sometimes referred to as “Madonna of the Rocks” which depicts the same characteristics of contrast between the light and dark.. Hence, as observable and evident in his painting, Leonardo Da Vinci’s primary use of color is set to provide a picture of artistic combination between the light and dark colors.

Just like many great painters in his time, Da Vinci’s use of color in his painting is regarded to be monochromatic, wherein he mostly utilized various darker shades, grayer tones, and paler tints that render great detail distinguishing between the light and black. In the said painting, Da Vinci’s usage of light color is specifically situated in providing lucid details of the face and position of the objects and the surroundings that clearly reveals the shade of light and dark colors in the rocks.

In other words, Leonardo Da Vinci’s basic usage of light and dark colors in the painting is his own approach in depicting the proper presentation of the effects of lighting in providing clarity and emotion to the visual. Thus, through this comprehensive observation, it can be said that Da Vinci’s use of color in “Virgin of the Rocks” falls under the category of “contrast of light and dark” and “contrast of saturation” in Itten’s seven color contrasts as his painting is mainly composed of light and dark colors which are accordingly and subtly used to signify single depiction.

Discussion on Jan van Eyk’s The Arnolfini Portrait As per the painting and work of Jan van Eyck’s entitled “The Arnolfini Portrait,” which is also referred to as “The Arnolfini Wedding” and “The Arnolfini Marriage,” the primary stance and use of color portrays a relative significance and value in composition of the painting.

Unlike Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Virgin on the Rocks,” where he mainly utilized light and dark colors, which resulted to a monochromatic painting, Jan van Eyck’s composition “The Arnolfini Portrait” is fundamentally filled with bright and glowing colors, which carry a single goal of depicting the wealthy lifestyle of “Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini,” the man who is with his wife in the painting. Jan van Eyck’s primary use of color in the said painting is set to depict life and draw a picture of realism.

Thus, van Eyck’s has used different radiant colors to present and improve the accuracy of life and actual picture and fine details of the living room where Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife are standing. In addition this, through the use of radiant and lively colors, Jan van Eyck is able to render definite details in the painting such as the shadow of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife and the shade of light that comes from the window.

The use of bright colors also provides details on the lighting and the ray of light coming from the outside, which passes through the window that reflects on the half part of the chandelier and through the face of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife. Thus, Jan van Eyck’s use of color for this painting is categorized as the contrast of complements. Virgin of the Rocks and The Arnolfini Portrait Through a thorough analysis and assessment of the two paintings, it is said that there are evident and observable similarities and differences in terms of the use of color.

As per the similarities of the two paintings, it is evident that both of the painters, Leonardo Da Vinci and Jan van Eyck, have utilized colors in such a way that it supports their goal of depicting realism and presence of life in their objects in the painting. Thus, the two artist and their paintings are also equipped with the most suitable colors in establishing the presence of lighting and/or the source of luminosity in order to further highlight realism and life.

In a sense, it can be said that the paintings and masterpieces of the two artists differ from each other in terms of their specific usage of certain types of colors. In constrast to the painting of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Virgin of the Rocks,” Jan van Eyck has utilized mostly radiant and glowing type of colors to be able to highlight realism and enhance the genuine picture of life in Arnolfini’s wealthy life and the beauty of their living room together with his wife.

Leonardo Da Vinci, on the other hand, has mainly utilized a combination of light and dark colors to present life and provide details of lighting in his painting, which render and draw the appropriate emotions of the image. In the end, it can be said that the classical paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci and Jan van Eyck, which are entitled “Virgin of the Rock” and “The Arnolfini Portrait” are identical in such a way that these two artist have used colors to be able to achieve their main artistic goals, which is that of depicting realism and putting more life into their works.

Hence, the two paintings only differ from each other in terms of the particular colors that they use in its composition. As Leonarod Da Vinci has utilized more of the light and dark types of colors, Jan van Eyck has used mostly radiant and lustrous combinations of hues to enhance the quality of his painting and provide for the lively features of his depiction on the life Giovanni Arnolfini.

Work Cited

Itten’s Color Contrasts. Creative Commons License. Viewed 12 March 2009 ;http://www.worqx.com/color/itten.htm;