PAINTERS, as a general rule, acknowledge but three primary colors–blue, red, and yellow; and whatever exception ninny be taken to such a statement on scientific grounds, there is no question that such a view of the subject does afford certain practical advantages. It is further assumed, that all other tints are mere mixtures of these three colors. For instance, green is made up of blue and yellow; violet, of blue and red; and orange, of red and yellow. If one has no taste and no power of discrimination between colors, it is a useless task for him to undertake decoration; it is useless for him to rely upon the painter; for what is wanted is that education which will enable us to make a judicious selection suited to the several purposes to which they are to be applied. Thus, in arranging colors, we can not put bright scarlet next to white without a tinge of green appearing on the edges of the scarlet for in looking first at scarlet, and then at any other color, a green hue will invariably appear about it ; and again, after first looking at green, other objects will have a tinge of red. This illusion has doubtless occurred too many, and to avoid these unpleasant effects is in a great measure the object to be attained in the selection of appropriate colors for wall or furniture decoration.
Where violet and green are placed in juxtaposition, each color having one element–blue–in common, this similarity on one point makes the dissimilarity on the others stand out more clearly; so that the green on the violet appears more yellow, while the violet, on the other hand, appears more red. In like manner, if orange and green be taken the yellow element in the one canceling, so to speak, the yellow in the other – the orange will assume a reddish hue and the green a bluish. An upholsterer should he very careful in choosing the colors of stuffs used for coverings. It will not do to cover mahogany furniture with scarlet–the color is too bright, and when placed beside it the mahogany loses brilliancy and becomes like walnut wood. Many persons, however, like this color, and insist that it shall accompany mahogany. In such cases, the unpleasant effect produced can be in a measure relieved by putting a green or black braid or an edging of yellow silk or gilt lace on the border where the cloth and wood meet. In paper-hanging a room, it is well to remember, that on crimson-colored grounds black looks green, and in the same way black upon green loses its luster, and vice versa. Orange upon red is injurious to the eyesight; violet upon blue looks washed out; blue upon green looks spinach color by candlelight, and gray upon green would show pink. Such combinations of colors should always be avoided, as the effect produced upon the eyesight on entering a room whose side walls are decorated in green and black or red and black, or an orange figure upon a red ground, is any thing but agreeable. It is the same in dress. The most striking effects are those produced by selecting harmonious colors, whereby the eyesight is maintained in a state of repose, and not affected by the false tints caused by the improper mixture of colors. The trade in paper-hangings has now become so extensive that such faults seldom occur, and yet there are defects still noticeable in the prevailing style where a light ground is interspersed all over at equal distances apart by small gilt figures; now this, in effect,- is sometimes good, but in most cases the effect is like looking at some arabesque ornament which appears all mixed up, because the eye can not take in all the figures at once. Now, if we have a pale pink blue, gray, violet, green, or other ground color, and at the top decorated with a bright colored border, the same at the base–or divided off into panels by stripes, ornaments, medallions, rosettes, and lines–the effects can then be at once grasped by the eyesight, and the result is interesting and pleasing.