Composing A Subject Expression Through Color The Place No One Knew

Color gives viewers a sense of mood, place, and time of year. Artists like Eliot Porter use the special qualities of color to express feelings about a place.

Colors can show moods and emotions: "seeing red" means someone is angry; "feeling blue" means someone is sad.

Think about how you feel when looking at the colors in Porter's images.

Warm colors —  red,  orange,  yellow — seem to jump off the page. They remind us of warm things like fire or the sun.

Cool colors —  blue,  green,  purple — seem to go back in space. They remind us of cool things like grass, ice, and sky.

Color sometimes makes subjects easier to see and understand.

Roll over each image to view in color.
Pool in a Brook, Pond Brook, New Hampshire, October 4, 1953 (P1990.60.51)

These are black-and-white versions of Porter's color images. First, look at the black-and-white image and answer the questions in your Activity Log.

Next, roll over each image; it will appear in color as Porter photographed it. Complete your Activity Log questions. Through this lesson, you will begin to see how color effects how we feel.

  • What colors do you see? Are they mostly warm or cool or a combination of both?

  • What does color tell you about the time of year?

  • What does color tell you about the mood or feeling of the image?

  • What does the color version provide that you don't find in the black-and-white version? Is the black-and-white version better? Why or why not?
Landscape with Elm Trees, Au Sable Forks, New York, February 12, 1958 (P1990.51.4313.1)
Rim of Crater and Bainbridge Rocks, Sombrero Chino, Galápagos Islands, March 11, 1966 (P1990.51.2255.1) Weeds and Fever Trees, Serengeti, Tanzania, July 19, 1970 (P1990.51.215.1)
Composing a Subject Expression Through Color The Place No One Knew
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© 2002 Amon Carter Museum