Systematic Approaches to Color Interaction: Limited Palettes for Simultaneous Contrast Effects

James Mai
Bridges Leeuwarden: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2008)
Pages 71–78


The phenomenon of simultaneous color contrast, the illusory effect by which a color appears to change its identity when seen in the changing contexts of other colors, is examined in this paper as the basis for systematized color palettes. Artist James Mai explains the principles of simultaneous color contrast illusions; how these illusory effects may be predicted, organized, and diagrammed; and how the principles of simultaneous color contrast form the basis of his color-interactive palettes. The author identifies three distinct types of color-interactive palette: the divergent, convergent, and compound, and describes how these palettes serve as systems of color selection for simultaneous contrast effects in his paintings.