The Theory and Practice of Color

Bonnie E. Snow
Hugo B. Froelich

Up to the present time, the study of color has been approached from three different angles: the angle of the physicist, the angle of the chemist and the angle of the painter or artist.


The physicist has demonstrated that the sun is the source of all Color, and has unlocked for us the secrets of the Solar Spectrum. The chemist has found in certain clays, in plant and animal life and in bi-products of coal, various symbols and substitutes for Color which he calls pigment, and which he combines in wonderful ways to make our dyes, paints and inks. The artist-painter has made use of the chemist’s formulae in the instrument which he uses to portray his interpretation of nature, his marvelous flights of imagination and the depth of his insight into the human heart. But all three of these workers, indispensable as each one is to the growth and development of the world, have ignored the individual man and his needs.

Though living in a world of Color, and forced by the nature of all created things to the daily and hourly use of Color, the average man is densely ignorant of any laws or principles which will guide him in its intelligent use. He has been sailing in uncharted seas, and, as a result, he has often found himself upon the rocks of discordant and irritating Color combinations, in his home, in his dress and in his efforts to meet the demands of business advertising.

Moreover, the enjoyment of Color, in itself as pure and exquisite a pleasure as the enjoyment of music, has been for him a sensation unknown. He has believed that Color belongs to a mysterious realm, inhabited only by artists, geniuses and others who are “born to the purple.” He has been told that the appreciation of Color is a matter of feeling and emotion, and that if he does not naturally “thrill” to chords of Color struck by a master hand, then there is no way for him to acquire the ability to enjoy Color and to understand its use, except through years of practice in the technical processes of so-called Art training.

rainbow fashion

Rainbow fashion, from Tokyo

This book, with its Color Charts, is compiled for the purpose of discovering to the ordinary man the World of Color. The Charts are the keys that unlock a vast storehouse. The Charts, purely scientific as they are, will cause the doors of the storehouse to swing wide. All who will, may enter and carry away the priceless gems. Familiarity with the scientific basis of Color can never restrict the play of man's emotions, nor deaden his vibrations. Indeed, the more he knows about Color, the greater is his pleasure in using it.

That the simple Theory herein expounded may be of service to students of all ages, who wish to know that they may more fully live, is the sincere desire of the authors.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to Mr. Frank Alvah Parsons, President of the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts, whose presentation of this Color Theory as fundamental in all Art training, first attracted the attention of the authors and suggested to them the simplified series of Charts which appears in this book.