I am fully convinced that a sound knowledge of the fundamentals of color will make for a better web designer. I have listened to the responses of hundreds of clients and visitors over the years to my and others web design efforts. Overwhelmingly, the most elemental, visceral responses I've heard, are to the colors used in the design. That has prompted me to do all that I can to understand color. A fine way for web designers to gain mastery in the use of color is by studying the centuries of expertise developed by the masters of fine art.
You will find that in every field where high-tech tools are used to create visual mediums, the most accomplished and celebrated craftsmen are individuals with a fine arts background or body of knowledge. For example, generally speaking, top photographers become such not by the mastery of the technical tools of their trade, such as Photoshop, and the latest digital cameras. World renowned photographers such as JAY MAISEL and ART WOLFE have fine arts training or knowledge. They both acknowledge the vital contribution that such knowledge brings to their craft. Mastery of the technical tools of their profession is a secondary skill. The artists eye is what breathes life and soul into their work.
It is much the same in the field of web design. You are crafting work that impacts the emotions and desires of consumers. Creating the right visual appeal has little to do with knowing the latest CSS techniques or mastering Dreamweaver. First and foremost, you must employ the wisdom accumulated by fine artists to stand out in a crowded field where anyone with a 6-month certificate from a community college can all themselves a "web designer."
Personally, I am drawn to the wisdom applied by skilled watercolor artists. Watercolors are like computer monitors in that semi-opaque colors are applied on a white background. One of my favorite books is "WATERCOLOR WISDOM" a reference that provides beginning artists an understanding of the basic principles of that medium. The chapters on color are simple and concise and can be directly applied to the use of color in web design. I highly recommend this as a vital tool for any developing web designer!
Donald Peterson - Photography Blog, Petersonlive.com