Local color (visual art)


In painting, local color is the natural color of an object unmodified by adding unrealistic light and shadow or any other distortion. The color that the eye observes is altered by lighting conditions such as time of day or the surrounding environment. Local color is best seen on a matte surface, due to it not being reflected, and therefore distorted.

In fine art realism and scientific descriptions of color perception, local color is the color the brain perceives an object to be. This may be radically different from the actual wavelength of light received by the pupil. For example, an apple is painted to appear red in comparison to the colors around it, but the actual pigment mixture used may be a pale green. This effect, known as color constancy, can also be observed under colored lighting in reality, and in photographs with strong color tints such as The Dress.

In contemporary sculpture local color is the original color of raw material that remains unpainted in the completed work.

External links

  • Local color at ArtLex