DIFFERENCE IN TONE AND ITS EFFECT UPON COLOUR
SHARP contrasts in tone tend not only towards violence of effect but also towards destruction of colour. Masses of dark violet on a ground of pale yellow tend to make the yellow look paler, while they themselves look blacker. Any dark colour placed upon a light colour tends to behave in the same way, so that, in practice, it is often necessary to reduce the contrast in tone in order to secure a satisfactory effect in colour. This is very noticeable in the case of dark reds, which, when placed on a very light ground, immediately tend to blackness, but which, when lightened, tend to regain their redness.
Unless a violent effect be deliberately intended, the tone-contrast between large masses of colour should be rather slight, but sharp contrasts in small quantities may be intermingled with far less loss of the desired effect.
This is best exemplified by reference to woven fabrics in which brilliant vibration may be seen as th result of close intermingling of light and dar colours.
The effort to obtain relief, either in decora tion or in picture-painting, is often responsible for deterioration of colour. The best remedy is a close study of the natural order of colours, which shows how a change of colour should accompany a change of tone. If we follow the “order” it is possible to some extent to product the effect of shade, and the relief suggested by it, by a comparatively slight change of colour instead of a very marked deepening of tone. For instance, if in representing a yellow-green apple one side be made distinctly greener than the rest, that side will tend to appear as though it were somewhat shaded, and a little deepenin of the green will make the effect quite marked. Of course, reflected lights bring back the colour again towards yellow.
In any endeavour to arrange beautiful schemes of colour the influence of tone must never be forgotten ; indeed, it forms a foundation for the more advanced study of colour. Take, for example, a landscape?a summer morning, after the sun is well up?with blue sky, flecked with patches of misty cloud, some quite golden, some faintly rosy ; the lower sky so warm, and yet so clear, as to be quite greenish ; the distance full of rich blues and golden greens ; the nearer parts showing reds and oranges, full greens and deep purples. In such a case, yellow, rose, and purple will appear in the clouds ; yellow-green, greenish blue, and blue in the clear sky; yellow-green, green, blue-green, greenish blue, blue, purple, and violet in the distance ; and yellow, orange, red, purple, violet, yellow-green, green, blue-green, and blue in the nearer parts. These colours will probably be obvious, but many more intermediate tints will be present. Now it is evident that the same colours recur again and again in sky, distance, and foreground, but with infinite variations of their strength. The glowing orange in the foreground would be a heavy blot in the sky, and the delicate greenish blue of the lower sky would be a washed-ont patch in the foreground, but it is fatally easy to miss the precise colour values, whether strong or delicate, and to ruin the tone of the picture.
Colour-schemes for the decoration of rooms should be dealt with in much the same way as a landscape. The tone must be the first consideration. The broad, soft sweep of colour o the open floor of a large light drawing-room, with subtle gradations in walls and hanging^, may all be brought to nought by an unhapp splash in a pattern, or by some unlucky alie ornament.
The wonderful strength of nearly all the most famous portrait-pictures is due in greap measure to the mastery of tone. This is mos remarkable in certain full-length portraits. The face, quite a small spot compared with the whole area of the canvas, rules the whole picture, One thinks instinctively of Velasquez, of the Admiral Pulido Pare] a, or of little Don Balthazar Carlos. Some have suggested that in such cases colour is sacrificed for the sake of tone, but it would be far truer to say that the colour relations are so subtle that the tone is undisturbed. Probably in no direction has this truth been so forcibly brought home to us as in the works of the great Japanese masters. Appearing at first sight flat, they gradually reveal themselves as full of the most delicate variations, the commonly accepted changes attributed to the effect of light and shade being set aside in favour of most subtle gradations of colour.