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Paint Color Let Down

Paint Color Let Down

by admin on September 1, 2012

Let down from John Q. Shearer on Vimeo.


John Shearer: Bright colors need to be let down for a room. Some people call them “muddied;” some people call it “graying out.” It’s because a color that’s close to primary is just too strong for a large – for a large surface.
John: Hello, I’d like to talk about the color concept of “let down.” Particularly for interiors. Because typically, everybody uses the same strategy for picking colors as they do – picking paint colors as they do for picking colors like for a car, or a sweater. That’s where most people’s experience is. I’ve worked as a painting contractor for 22 years, so I have a lot of experience picking paint colors and it’s a lot different than picking colors for other things like picking clothes. So, you can’t translate the two. You can pick a very bright orange shirt. That would not work on the wall of your house. Primarily because the size of your wall is much larger than the size of your shirt. So for footprint – I’m not a very large man, but my shirt, laid out flat, would probably be 3 square feet, and the part that you see might be 2 square feet. But even one wall in a typical house, 7.5 feet from floor to ceiling, could be 500 square feet. In a much larger area, much different on a exterior of a house, the whole side of a 3000 square foot house, 4000 sf house, is humongous. That same orange that would work great for a tie, would not work for the house.
The primary problem is the brightness of the color, the intensity of the color, how close it is to primary. I chose to film today because it’s very bright. And, it’s so bright you have to wear sunglasses if you’re writing anything, and that’s usually the problem with picking colors, is that people usually go too bright. Let me give you an example.
Benjamin Moore, one of the strongest paint color fan decks. The classic fan deck is not anything like, y’know, the new preview. A lot of – these are the older colors, they’re not as bright, but let’s use Benjamin Moore Piñata. This is a very very very bright color. It’s really an accent color; it’s what I call a fashion color. Of course anyone can choose to paint any color they want on their house. I would not have them pick this particular color at this strength. I would have them do a let down. And a let down is primarily a graying down of the – of the color.
I learned let down initially from being a young painting contractor in the early 90s. There was a company that doesn’t exist now, called Ameritone – put your hand over your heart – and Ameritone has this system that I haven’t seen actually topped to this day, although there have been – there are some pretenders. Their color key system is divided into cool and warm palettes, and they – in addition to that they also had this let down scheme where if you looked at the numbers and they corresponded: 2H; 2H here for Lime Pastel and Summer Citron, we knew that this was a 50% formulation of that other color. Very very very very easy to prescribe colors. And if you see a color consultant who is very very used to prescribing percentages, it’s because they probably used this color key system. One of my color teachers, mentors, is Leatrice Eisenman, and Lea got her color start from the color key system.
So, again to paraphrase what we’ve talked about: Bright colors need to be let down for a room. Some people call them “muddied,” some people call it “graying out.” It’s because a color that’s close to primary is just too strong for a large – for a large surface. Thanks.

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