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jpohl 15-04-08 11:21 PM

munsell colour theory
I just recently made my way over to and found a lot of great resources. I am trying to wrap my head about the munsell colour theory that is the driving force, but thought I should ask about it here in a slightly more objective environment. Are there any ET artist's working with it? Can it be a Holy Grail for realists? I was pretty inspired by a few of the artists working with it, but what do people think?

I'm still trying to determine how much of a realist, if at all, I want to be at this point... but perhaps I should fill in the gaps in my technique before I decide if I want to throw out the rulebook...

as if just getting started in egg tempera wasn't enough I know... but starting in a new medium is making rethink many of the basics. it may have been easier to fudge in oil (but you didn't hear it here. :smile: )

jpohl 11-05-08 08:43 PM

Frank Reilly
I'm doing my best to follow the advice of a wildlife artist who has unplugged his computer to get back to feeling of being on safari. At this point I have to work things out at the easel should Rembrandt starting blogging tomorrow... it's a little too easy to do a search for every question or thought and distract myself from the task at hand. There's a point when you have to follow your own vision and emulating the work of other people can only be so genuine (as much as I'm enjoying pouring over the Andrew Wyeth book I lucked into at the library yesterday.)

I thought I'd post this article which I came across and helped put things in perspective for me, in case some one else has similar questions. This helped make sense of some of my confusion.

I don't think Munsell is the holy grail of painting, or a silver bullet, but it is a useful problem solving tool. It has worked well for award winning artist and teacher Marvin Mattleson. He has been working with Munsell for some forty years. I found his story to be inspiring and his approach worth noting:

There may be something to be said for the elegance and simplicity of the way he utilizes this colour theory.

Having said this I think there are many truly gifted and exceptional painters who work at a deeply instinctive level for whom this purely scientific approach might have little to offer (if perhaps there is something to be gleaned for others. ) The Munsell Color System was developed in 1898 by American artist A. Munsell, and as one friend said to me "I think one or two paintings made it off the easel before then."

I also came across this book and website by former Reilley student Doug Higgen (not be confused with ET's Doug Higden. -: )

Here's a link to the article for those who may find this historically interesting. Sorry it's too long to post here.

Happy painting everyone, jp.

Dimitris C. Milionis 24-09-08 10:04 PM

I bought the new book several months ago and am using it as a basic training tool for my son and a couple of kids I "sort" of guide for the school work [art class grade 7 & 8]

just hated to add in all those little color cuts with the grade system

Its called

'The new Munsell Student Color Set (second edition)'
It published by Fairchild Publications. Authors are Jim Long and Joy Turner Luke.

I belive you can retrain your mind to develop a high standard in your work

Dimitris C. Milionis 25-09-08 09:48 PM

you can also pick up this fan set

Munsell Neutral Value Scale, Glossy Finish

wheeler 06-10-08 07:45 AM


Originally Posted by Dimitris C. Milionis (Post 4022)
you can also pick up this fan set

Munsell Neutral Value Scale, Glossy Finish

Hi Dimitris,

Thanks for the link, I was looking for something like this...

jeff 27-05-09 01:32 AM

I have always thought that Munsell is a system that is highly suited to oil paint which has little or no colour/tone changes after application, but is rather impractical in egg tempera which does. Doesn't it also favour a particular style of oil painting, namely alla prima, over glazing techniques which are in themselves more similar to egg tempera?

smith 12-04-10 09:12 AM

The Munsell Color System uses three attributes per color: hue, value and chroma. The color system is used by artists, designers, scientists and others.The Munsell Color System uses the Hue color wheel diagram to illustrate complementary colors. Albert Munsell preferred the term "opposite color" to complementary color since they are on the opposite side of his color wheel. With his diagram it becomes easy to visualize how complementary colors relate to each other.

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