Palette of Art


Deconstructing Color in Famous Paintings

Palette of Art is a poster series investigating the frequency of color occurrence in famous masterpieces throughout history. The series interprets color through an adaptive color wheel, highlighting the relationships among the colors and encouraging viewers to interact with their favorite paintings in a different way--through a singular construct that emphasizes color over content.


Shortlist, Kantar Information Is Beautiful Awards, 2019


Concept, Data Visualization


HTML5 Canvas, Javascript, PHP, MySQL

No. 14 - Mark Rothko

No. 14
Mark Rothko

The Starry Night - Vincent van Gogh Girl with a Pearl Earring - Johannes Vermeer The Night Watch - Rembrandt Impression, Sunrise - Claude Monet Mona Lisa - Leonardo di Vinci The Night Café - Vincent van Gogh
Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond - Claude Monet

Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond
Claude Monet

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte - Georges Seurat Napoleon Crossing the Alps - Jacques-Louis David The Birth of Venus - Sandro Botticelli The Swing - Jean-Honoré Fragonard Black Coat - Anthony Goicolea White Coat - Anthony Goicolea
  1. Technical Process
  2. For each piece, digital true color reproductions are obtained from the Web Gallery of Art
  3. RGB values are then extracted from each pixel of the digital file
  4. An adaptive color palette of 256 colors is generated using a median-cut algorithm
  5. Each original color is mapped to the closest matching color from the palette
  6. The occurrence of each new color is calculated
  7. Color circles are generated and sized based on the frequency of their occurence
  8. An HSL color wheel is generated, and each color circle is mapped via polar coordinates using hue and lightness
  • Working Constraints
  • Due to expected limitations in digital reproductions, true color representations in sourced images may not fully reflect color in the original pieces. A color sensor and controlled lighting environment would be the best way to extract the most accurate colors.
  • Each color palette was reduced to a fixed 256 colors. This does not necessarily fully capture overall perceptions of color in the paintings.