The topic of color, its many contributions, and how best to take advantage of its values is integral to the study of floral design. It is also a topic that can be overintellectualized, thereby destroying the fun of studying it. Although the subject does lend itself to study and research by scientists and artists alike, you may take comfort in knowing that nearly everyone possesses a natural ability to use color correctly. Therefore, a study of color can be regarded mostly as a deciphering of why certain colors go together pleasantly or unpleasantly.
Given a selection of painted blocks or swatches of cloth, most people could select and arrange colors in combinations that they and most viewers would find attractive. The precise nature of the color combinations might vary depending on the setting, mood, time of day, season, and assorted other influences. In floral design, the colors chosen for an arrangement may be based on:
• the occasion that the flowers acknowledge
• the room where they will be placed
• the background against which they will be placed
• the light under which they will be viewed
• the season of the year
• the preferences of the person for whom the flowers are intended
• the preferences of the purchaser
• the preferences of the floral arranger
To understand color, you should understand the terminology used to describe its qualities and its variations.
• Color families are the six major groupings of colors visible when white light is passed through a prism or when a rainbow is seen after a shower. The six color families are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.
• Hue is the quality from which the family name is derived. It is the color in its most brilliant and unaltered state.
• Tint is the hue lightened by the addition of white. In flowers, a tint appears as a pastel color.
• Shade is the hue darkened by the addition of black. Dark reds or bronzes are examples of shades in flower colors.
• Tone is the hue grayed by the addition of both white and black. Certain flowers are distinguished by their smoky tones in contrast to their more brilliant counterparts that remain closer to the original hue.
• Intensity is the quality of visual strength or weakness that characterizes a color. Both tints and shades may appear weak if the white or black dilutants dominate the original hue. Where the hue predominates, the color appears stronger.
• Weight is also a visual quality based on the amount of white, black, or gray in the color. White gives a lightness to colors, whereas black creates a sense of heaviness.
• Luminosity is the quality of certain colors that allows them to be seen under dim light. Tints, because of the white in them, have a higher luminosity than tones or shades.
• Warmth and coolness. We frequently associate colors with temperatures. Reds and oranges are considered warm colors because we associate them with fire. Blue and green are considered cool colors because of their association with water and shade.
• Movement is the ability of colors to appear closer or father away. In general, intense colors appear to advance and less intense colors appear to recede.