Wednesday, 19 September 2018
To further my understanding of the use of colour in medicine I was studying the medical illustrations found in 'The Sick Rose' by Richard Barnett. It was not an easy viewing even in illustrative form but it was that very fact that made me focus on what I was seeing, the artists view of sickness. All kinds of conditions are illustrated, mostly of diseased or afflicted skin and there was something that linked them all;specific colours. These I found to be a range of browns with blue in, sepia with greys and teal blue washes.In order to suggest ill health you simply add shades of blue green, for decay a hue of grey brown.
I had been reading about a very successful illustrator who gave his favourite colour to use as being sepia with a touch of ultramarine. A friend of mine, of the same ilk, agreed saying you had to watch which brand of Payne's grey you bought (it is usually a mix of ultramarine and burnt sienna) in case it was too blue. A quick internet hunt gave a similar picture: many illustrators like using blues and browns.
A brief note on colour mixing;
red and yellow make orange,blue and red make purple, yellow and blue make green.
then.......mix all three to make brown, in fact keep mixing the lot for every shade of brown and dirgy grey (depending on the pigments used). To get a blue toned brown simply add more blue.
Flat grey is a different beast all together and not popular as it kills the surrounding colours but this is where I found the surgeons differed. An interesting chat with an orthopaedic consultant revealed that she lives in a greyscale world. Her sensitivity to grey has developed over many years so that she can read an xray with more subtlety than her registrars.This means that she can spot things that are causing pain or have serious implications where others can not. It is a skill that only develops with time.
(As an interesting glimpse of what it is really like to be an illustrator read here. )