Roy Osborne has sustained interest in all aspects of colour in art and design since studying at Brighton College of Art (1966-70). In various ongoing series of paintings (Divisions, Heraldic, Bends, Compass, etc) he has explored colour contrast, harmony, contour, optical colour mixing, and illusory depth in works that typically integrate figure-ground ambiguity, regular pattern, formal symmetry, hard versus soft edge, illusory transparency, light and shade, and plainness versus texture. Many later abstracts feature horizontal, vertical and diagonal divisions of the square. Regular patterns encourage the eye to explore arrays of colours, with rhythm provided by predominant shapes and prominent colour contrasts or groupings. A presentation of his theories is included in Color Influencing Form (2004, revised 2016). He has contributed to 130 group exhibitions in the UK and abroad (plus 6 solo shows), and has work in over 80 private collections and several public collections.

For three decades he was primarily a part-time or visiting lecturer in tertiary education, specialising first in printmaking and then colour theory, design and art history. He has presented over 2,000 lectures at over 200 institutions in the UK, USA, Australia, and elsewhere. In 2003 he became the first recipient of the Turner Medal of the Colour Group (Great Britain). He has written, edited or contributed to 18 books on colour, plus articles, starting with his innovative Lights and Pigments: Colour Principles for Artists (1980).

Since 2012 he has published the first English translations of books on colour by Jean Courtois (the Sicily Herald, 1495), Gilles Corrozet (1527) and Fulvio Pellegrino Morato (1535), plus revisions of a history and bibliography of over 2,500 books on colour published since 1500. His survey of the history of colour in art and science is included in Janet Best’s Colour Design(2012). In Best’s second edition (2017), the revised chapter is augmented by another on the history of colour in education.