The Triad

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Structure, effort , and intensity will be used to describe the tri-stimulus color variables, or as I call it “the triad”. These variables are brightness, hue, and saturation, each bringing a unique and valuable element to both the visible and invisible world of color. To understand the variables more effectively, we first need to understand a reflective curve.

A reflective curve is a graph the describes the combination of brightness, saturation, as well hue in the visible color spectrum. On the Y axis the visible spectrum is represented from 0 to 100 with 0 being absolute black, and 100 absolute white. This is described as brightness. Now on the X axis we have our wavelengths. If a wavelength is located on the left side it is considered a short wavelength , and thus more blue. Comparatively, if we move to the right side of the spectrum, we have a long wavelength creating red. These represent our hues, all other colors exist between the blue and red wavelengths.

Saturation is described as the strength of each hue represented. Therefore, we are going to associate saturation with effort. How far are we willing to go to paint the future we envision? For far too long we have worried about how our colors will be perceived by the world, not realizing that every triad is unique. Ultimately, it’s how much we work with and expand the reach of our colors that reflects for others to see. Saturation does not work alone, brightness, which is associated with structure has a direct effect on saturation. Most things in life require structure, too little of it and there is no control, but too much limits the freedom and expressive nature that we have as artists. We need to have a perfect balance of structure/brightness to ensure that the picture we paint is not without color. If too much brightness occurs, it creates white, and too little creates black, this can also be seen on our reflective curve. This is great for structure, but if we want to add our personal expression we need to balance our brightness levels to reveal the true colors of our image. Now that we have managed our effort, and have created a personal structure, we need to find our intensity. To do this we must figure out what colors truly define us? This is represented as hue, it will define our intensity in all aspects of life. Further detail about the emotion associated with each color painted on our canvas can be found in the companion book, “The Blank Canvas: A Dose of Compassion for Human Kindness”.

Never the less, the triad of color variables effects us in multitude of ways. Let’s take the life of birds for example, a group of animals who’s survival depends on color. Signaling strategies, identity, and even reproduction ability are all affected by color. This can be seen through the triad, as male birds are more attracted to females with a similar wavelength, with variance in the brightness and saturation. The same holds true in regards to female birds selection of males, as they prefer a larger wavelength in their males, with variance of selection in brightness and saturation. However, each bird has a unique way of expressing their triad , and the same applies when talking about the human spirit. The key lies in loving our unique colors, and putting the effort and structure in place to find our peace.