The Sublime, Fluorescence and Complementary Ratios

Thinking about why the dramatic skies appeal so much to me, I consider it to be down to the contrasting complementary colours seen during certain meteorological events or times of day, particularly sunset.

I came across this very insightful website explaining ratios of colour. Although the information on the website is for photography (so concerning light not pigment), I immediately identified with these proportions of colour as they have already appeared naturally in the compositions of my latest work.

Complementary Ratios

Showing the relative intensities of complementary colours.

While Red and Green are roughly equal in their effect on each other Orange and Blue need about a 3:1 ratio for the same balance. With Yellow and Violet it’s about 5:1. 

I know from my teaching of colour theory that this balance is very pleasing to the eye because it occurs naturally in nature.

Getting these proportions right in a piece of work can enhance the appeal to the viewer.

I wonder how much these ratios will be effected, if at all, when fluorescent colour is thrown into the equation?

Fluorescent compounds convert incoming light of one wavelength into (visible) light of another wavelength, so the material seems to “glow” with a colour corresponding to the wavelengths being emitted. This glow is the major appeal of the dye I am using as it is achieving the intensity of the light I see in the atmospher of the landscape I am trying to capture.

Harmony of colour engages the viewer creating balance to the visual experience. If the visual experience is very bland the brain will be under-stimulated and so not engage with the image. However if it is really chaotic with no logical structure it becomes too difficult to translate and so the visual experience is challenging. So balance of harmony is vital to the viewers enjoyment of visual stimuli. 

Could this suggest that the use of fluorescent colours will be too extreme to create an engaging visual experience?

I intend the work to be an assalt and demand attention so hope that the visual confusion to the brain will produce a sense of the sublime  from the viewer.



About Annemarie Tickle

I am a Lecturer in Textiles at Hull School of Art and Design. As a visual artist I am interested in atmospheric conditions and events and how the scale of nature makes mans mark on the landscape look insignificant. I enjoy the act of doing and getting my hands dirty so my practice is intensly process led. I use a wide range of media but am particular interested in dying techniques.
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5 Responses to The Sublime, Fluorescence and Complementary Ratios

  1. kestrelart says:

    Thanks for posting

  2. Richard says:

    I’m going to use those colour ratios in my classes. Hope the preparations are going well. I’ll be in Hull from 13th August, will I be able to see your exhibition?

    • Hi Richard, glad this information is useful to you. My exhibition must be in place by 14th Aug but will not officially open until September. But you an still go in for a sneeky peek !! I will be going away for a few days rest after 14th but could catch up on 13 or when we return if you will still be around. xxx

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