Responses to colored patterns were collected for a group of 60 naive participants. We explicitly aimed at affective responses, rather than aesthetic judgments, so this is not ‘color harmony’ proper. Patterns were mainly spatially highly structured compositions, the color palettes reminiscent of what is found in generic ‘colorist’ art. Color combinations systematically cover mono-, di-, and trichromatic chromatic chords, whereas there was always an additional achromatic component. This sets the research apart from the bulk of the mainstream literature on ‘color harmony.’ Various ways of analysis are compared. Clustering methods reveal that the responses are highly structured through the teal–orange (cool–warm) dimension. Clustering reveals a large group of mutually concordant participants and various small, idiosyncratic groups. When the data is coarse-grained, retaining only a limited red–blue–yellow palette, the group as a whole appears quite concordant. It is evident that responses are systematic, thus the notion of a universal affective response to color combinations gains some credibility. The precise affective responses are specific because constrained by the seven categories used in the experiment. Thus, the systematic structure is perhaps to be understood as the generic result. We discuss tangencies with various traits found with ‘colorist’ art styles.
We explored how an artist who uses a particular monochrome modern painting style generates the impression of relief in paintings. Three portraits, painted after model, were created especially for the experiment. Photographs of the paintings were presented on a computer screen. To investigate the perceived relief of observers we used a gauge figure task. We expected an effect of background contrast on perceived total depth range of the relief, because this is well known in the case of photography. We found that the contrast with the color of the canvas, white, gray or black, influences the perceived articulation of the relief but does not influence the perceived total depth range of the relief. The major difference between photographs and these paintings is that contrasts in the paintings are built up through edge-based shading, whereas photographs mostly contain tonal-area shading. The classical shape from shading cue does not apply to the impressions of depth evoked by the paintings. Perhaps surprisingly edge-based shading can be as effective as classical ways of creating pictorial relief.