Full Spectrum Paint

The featured image here is from Ellen Kennon’s website. There isn’t any way to describe how luscious her paints are, y’got ‘ta see them, and I think this image suggests how special these paints are.

You know I’m a bit of a color nut. I have an innate ability to remember color — which I didn’t realize was unusual until I got involved in the interior decorating game. I learned a huge amount about color through trial and error, and got my Masters through Maria Killam, THE True Color Expert, and her system of color identification.

 So I have been watching and poking around whenever I hear about full spectrum paint. And I thought you might be interested in a (really) brief summary about this “new” paint phenomenon.

27328407 – color circle light dark – twelve basic colors in a circle, graduated from the brightest to the darkest gradation


Every paint company that is not doing full spectrum paint uses gray and black in the production of colors. Black increases the paint coverability and makes darkening colors easy. Full spectrum paint is produced without these black or gray pigments; they use pure colors only. Some companies use seven, like Benjamin Moore; some use eleven like Ellen Kennon, and of course, there is a big hoop-la in the industry about which one is right.

Using our Full Spectrum Paints your walls will come alive, bringing in the energy and healing benefits of natural daylight. They become chameleon-like in their ability to pick up colors from adjacent materials, and to change character as the light changes. Each color is mixed with a minimum of seven pigments and no black, so they never look muddy or lose their character in low light conditions. Not only do these colors work well with the materials around them, they work well with each other.Ellen Kennon

 You know, from your time in art class, that you can create any color from the three basic primary colors, red, blue and yellow.



If you keep adding colorant, the colors get darker. If you add the complimentary color, you get a grayed effect. If you keep adding the compliment eventually you will get an almost black with the original color as the ‘undertone.’ So, you see that it IS possible to create dark and light colors without the use of black or gray. 

The gold standard of this is Munsell Neutral Gray N7/N8 Paint. It is gray. Just gray. When looking at it under a spectrometer ( which shows the colors in the gray) all the colors are distributed almost exactly evenly. This gray has no undertones.

When you put a full-spectrum paint on a wall, the color isn’t as static as black or gray infused colors. The color can shift and change somewhat, depending on the light. Which is true, too, of regular paint colors, but more-so with the full spectrum. And most consumers want their paint color NOT to change with the light.

Looking at the full-spectrum samples, (Benjamin Moore’s is in a separate fan deck called Color Stories), there doesn’t seem to be a great big difference. The difference comes when it goes on the wall and looks almost alive. These colors appear deeper than regular paint colors, almost luminous, and as they don’t have any black, they don’t absorb light. They reflect it and feel more like natural colors.


The land of color:


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