Book Review of “Color Is Everything” by Dan Barges

Marc Shagall, a Russian-Jewish artist, has been hailed as one of the successful artists of the twentieth century. His expertise allowed him to forge an impressive career utilizing many artistic mediums, including stained class, tapestries, and fine prints. Shagall indicated, “Color is all. When color is right, form is right. Color is everything….”

Artist Dan Bartges dovetails on the latter portion of that quote to give the world this guide to utilizing color. It is read like the warmth of a conversation with an old friend but with the technical excellence of a well-written textbook. Ideally, readers will grasp color harmony when employing strategies mastered by all great artists.

At just under 100 pages, Bartges paints a masterful description of color and its appreciation. As a master teacher, his goal is to take a student on a journey of several projects to understand color and its application. Remaining the consummate professional, he always makes theory more interesting by providing real world examples of famous (and not so famous) paintings to illustrate his point.

Although never utilizing a condescending tone, Bartges’ tutelage leaves no stone unturned. He details the type of materials needed: a color wheel, the specific hues of paint, and brush selection. A thorough analysis is provided of the six existing color schemes and how their mastery leads to better artwork. Additionally, Bartges examines famous artwork to provide explanation of why a particular artist utilizes, let’s say, a complementary color scheme.

As one would expect, the rich vibrancy of colors leap off every high glossy page of this tutorial. Sometimes it is difficult to follow precisely what Bartges is trying to elucidate by examining some paintings, but even a casual read will have the reader nodding in agreement that a particular color harmony is apparent. If understanding the nuances of various paintings is your primary need this tool would serve as a good color guide corollary.

Those aspiring to teach art or to understand better color harmony will enjoy this book. If you are willing to make a small investment in addition to the book (the cheapest color wheels are about $4.50), Bartges will lead you on a fascinating journey where you will ultimately discover that color is everything. Fascinating projects are interlaced in the book to give the reader the hands-on feel of excellent instruction.

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