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I am continuing on my trail towards colour solutions for the modern woman or man (any man who dares to stray from navy blue that is). Here are the previous blog entries 1 and 2 and 3. As I go on a discovery tour of any kind, I always imagine it a short one. It never is. There’s a combination of an overload of information on the net and a very inquisitive gene in me. So I dig myself deeper and deeper. I have done that again. In the last entry I delved into our undertones, the warm, the cool and the neutral. I was planning to move onto the 4 seasons next, keeping it short and sweet. Not so. This week I have learned that this ‘popular colour approach of the 80’s has been weighed and found wanting. We must go deeper into more complicated territory. So lets detour together and we will shortly come back to our 4 seasons winter, spring, summer and autumn.

Here is a portrait of the man whose fault it is that I am now even further entangled. Albert Munsell was an artist and a professor in art who desired to explain colour in a systematic and rational way. It is thanks to Munsell that we now understand the 3 characteristics of colour, hue, value and chroma. He published his system in 1905. If you use photoshop this all makes good sense and is no doubt quite familiar. If you don’t, hopefully it will at least make sense.

1. Hue – the actual colour of an object, like yellow, blue, green. Hue can be warm or cool, or some combination of the two. Yellow is warm, blue is cool, green is balanced.

2. Value – the lightness or darkness of a color. Light colors have tints of white added to it. Dark colors have some shade of black added to it.

3. Chroma – a color’s clarity or saturation or how clear or soft a colour is. A sunny Yellow would be considered fully saturated or clear. “Mustard” would be considered a muted Yellow. There is usually a heaviness or grayness added to a muted color.

So in short…..

HUE= Warm or Cool
VALUE=Light or Dark
CHROMA=Clear or Soft

We have gone from this

To This

In fact this is Albert Munsells globe.
You could say that colour is three dimensional.
With no portrait at hand I will now introduce you to Kathryn Kalisz. Our contemporary Kathryn worked at the Munsell Institute as a colourist for a few years. As an artist she had a true passion for colour and being a woman must have realised the potential for all women. Kathryn developed the so called 12 tone system as a foundation for personal colour classification. As we Australians will say, good on ya Kathryn.
So coming back to the four seasons, yes you are one of them and you are possibly a true warm or cool but more likely a neutral. The original 4 seasons were split into 3 more defined and more accurate seasons in the 12 season system. Here’s an image that explains it.
These are the possible combinations that we end up with…….
Deep Winter – Deep, cool colours
Deep Autumn – Deep, warm colours
Light Spring – Light, warm colours
Light Summer – Light, cool colours
Clear Winter – Clear, cool colours
Clear Spring – Clear, warm colours
Soft Autumn – Soft, warm colours
Soft Summer – Soft, cool colours
Warm Spring – Warm, clear colours
Warm Autumn – Warm, soft colour
Cool Summer – Cool, soft colours
Cool Winter – Cool, clear colours
Before Kathryn Kalisz put all this together for us, you and I were basically a one season person and warm, cool or neutral. The claim now is that 2/3 of all human skin tone is neither is an absolute warm or cool but rather a neutral with different mixes of warms and cools. So in the 12 colour system, the first thing you should try to determine is actually which of the 6 characteristics you are.

Deep…Dark and rich.

Light…Light and delicate.

Soft…Soft & muted.

Clear…Clear & bright.

Warm…No cool undertones.

Cool…No warm undertones.

Here’s an example of how to approach this. Let’s say your characteristic is deep. Now you’ll want to know what’s more flattering on you, warm or cool. If cool is more you then you are a Deep Winter. Deep being the most important characteristic means you can do some Deep Autumn as well. Let’s say you are a definite cool with no warm undertones, then you may be better in cool winter but could still do cool summer. If your characteristic is light you may feel better in light summer but also look great in light spring and so it goes.

So here we have it. Now all you have to do is figure out which characteristic fits, the variation of that and what you look your absolute best in. If to look good helps to make you to feel good it’s worth it. Have fun !
Footnote; There’s now a 16 season combo system but you can google that if you like, I have decided to settle for 12, at least for now.