Have you ever heard of simultaneous contrast? Or the Frenchman Micheal Chevreul?
Did you know that scientists from all kinds of expertise – chemists, physicists, psychiatrists, opthamologists, neurologists, mathematicians, etc. – have been analyzing and explaining the phenomenon of color for centuries? Color taps nearly all of our senses and it is both subjective and objective, hence, it has always been a field of study that fascinates people across the board. 70% of artists surveyed say that color is the most difficult art element to use effectively. It is illusive in many ways, yet so marvelous.
Can you imagine a world without color?
Back in the late 1700’s, Chevreul identified the pricinple he called simultaneous contrast. Definition: Color is impacted by the colors adjacent to it. It is critical for every artist to understand this phenomenon. Below is an example. I have painted the same yellow, red and blue squares with the same medium and strength of color. Notice how each of these colored squares appears to change based on the lightness and darkness of the colors surrounding them. Have your eyes been tricked, you may ask? Perhaps.
Now, notice how the same light-blue (painted alone below the squares) is impacted by the pale-yellow versus the dark-blue surrounding it.
These are only a couple of examples of how our perceptions can seemingly deceive us. Our eyes are not betraying us, it is the brain that compensates and/or becomes distracted by surrounding elements. It is a fascinating, if not magical, phenomenon.
Hence, you are NOT crazy. That lovely, seemingly perfect color you mixed on your palette may not work when you apply it to your painting because of the adjacent colors. By the way, simultaneous contrast occurs everywhere => with fabric (quilts, clothing, upholstery), house paint, furniture, etc.