Theoretically, It’s Color

Introduction

It is not only the professional artist or designer who deals with color, all of us make color decisions almost every day. We choose items to purchase of which the color is a major factor. We can make color choices for everything from home appliances to clothes to credit cards. Fashion design, interior design, architecture, industrial design—all fields in art are now increasingly concerned with color, but everyone can profit by knowing some basic color principles.

The study of color can be rather complex. The word color means different things to a physicist, optician, psychiatrist, poet, lighting engineer, and painter; and the analysis of color becomes a multifaceted report in which many experts competently describe their findings. Shelves of books in the library on the topic attest that a comprehensive study of color from all viewpoints is impossible in a limited space. (Source: Pentak, Design Basics, 9e Enhanced.)

Your introduction to color in this course will include chapter readings and quizzes, studio demonstrations and discussions, a series of exercises, and a final, comprehensive studio project.

Design Elements: Shape, Color, Value

Vocabulary: color/hue, tint, shade, analogous colors, tertiary colors, secondary colors, primary colors, achromatic, chromatic, monochromatic

Media: acrylic paint, illustration board, glue, paper

Learning Goal 1: To gain a basic understanding of color mixing

Learning Goal 2: To increase our eyes’ ability to perceive subtle color changes


RESEARCH AND PREPARATION

  1. READ: Chapter 13 COLOR in your textbook Design Basics
  2. EVALUATE: complete the quiz on chapter 13.
  3. PARTICIPATE in studio demonstrations with the instructor

INSTRUCTOR DEMO: PREPARING A PAINTING PALETTE (7:14 MINS.)

INSTRUCTOR DEMO VIDEO

INSTRUCTOR PRESENTATION: THREE PROPERTIES OF COLOR

EXERCISE 1: COLOR WHEEL (3 hrs.)

Create a colorwheel

EXERCISE 2: PRIMARY/SECONDARY GRADATION STUDY (3 hrs.)

Mix increasing amounts of a secondary color into a primary color to create a graduated scale.

  1. Select one primary and one secondary color to use in this exercise.
  2. Begin by painting a chip 100% of the primary color and another chip 100% of the secondary color.
  3. Mix a tiny amount of the secondary color into the primary color and paint the resulting color on a chip (instructor will provide).
  4. On subsequent chips, continue mixing increasing amounts of secondary color into the primary color to create a gradation that is 50/50 of each color.
  5. From the 50/50 chip, begin reducing the amount of secondary color in the primary color until you’ve achieved a chip that is nearly 100% of the original primary color.
  6. Arrange the chips in order from 100% to 50/50 in the center to 100% and adhere to a substrate.

EXERCISE 3: TINT GRADATION (2 hrs.)

Mix increasing amounts of tint (black) into a primary color to create a graduated scale.

  1. Select a primary color to use in this exercise.
  2. Begin by painting a chip 100% of the primary color and another chip 100% white (tint).
  3. Mix a small amount of white (tint) into the primary color to create the next chip in the sequence.
  4. Mix increasing amounts of white into the primary color to create a graduated sequence of chips that eventually reach the chip you painted 100% white.
  5. Arrange the chips in order from 100% primary to 100% white and adhere to a substrate.

EXERCISE 4: SHADE GRADATION (2 hrs.)

Mix increasing amounts of tint (black) into a primary color to create a graduated scale.

  1. Select a primary color to use in this exercise.
  2. Begin by painting a chip 100% of the primary color and another chip 100% black (shade).
  3. Mix a small amount of black into the primary color to create the next chip in the sequence.
  4. Mix increasing amounts of black into the primary color to create a graduated sequence of chips that eventually achieves 100% black.
  5. Arrange the chips in order from 100% primary to 100% black and adhere to a substrate.

EXERCISE 5: PRIMARY STILL LIFE STUDY (3 hrs.)

Use the three primary colors to paint an all-white sculptural plaster form from the studio.

  1. First, carefully observe the sculptural form provided by the instructor. Note the object’s value scale: what are the darkest areas? lightest? midtones?
  2. Notice how the three areas of dark, midtone and light form distinct shapes. Prepare a series of studies to explore the placement of the shapes and values.
  3. Assign the dark shapes one of the primary colors, the light shapes another primary color, and the mid-tones the final primary color.
  4. Prepare your workspace with the following:
    1. a paper suitable for acrylic paint
    2. paper palette with primary colors
    3. brushes
    4. water
    5. paper towels
  5. From your studies, map the shapes on to the paper using an HB pencil or lighter.
  6. Begin painting using the color scheme you developed in #3 above.
  7. Stop often, step back and study your progress.

EXERCISE 5: SECONDARY STILL LIFE STUDY (3 hrs.)

Use the three secondary colors to paint an all-white sculptural plaster form from the studio.

  1. First, carefully observe the sculptural form provided by the instructor. Note the object’s value scale: what are the darkest areas? lightest? midtones?
  2. Notice how the three areas of dark, midtone and light form distinct shapes. Prepare a series of studies to explore the placement of the shapes and values.
  3. Assign the dark shapes one of the secondary colors, the light shapes another secondary color, and the mid-tones the final secondary color.
  4. Prepare your workspace with the following:
    1. a paper suitable for acrylic paint
    2. paper palette with secondary colors
    3. brushes
    4. water
    5. paper towels
  5. From your studies, map the shapes on to the paper using an HB pencil or lighter.
  6. Begin painting using the color scheme you developed in #3 above.
  7. Stop often, step back and study your progress.

EXERCISE 6: TINT STILL LIFE STUDY (3 HRS.)

Use a primary color and white (tint) to paint an all-white sculptural plaster form from the studio.

  1. First, carefully observe the sculptural form provided by the instructor. Note the object’s value scale: what are the darkest areas? lightest? midtones?
  2. Notice how the three areas of dark, midtone and light form distinct shapes. Prepare a series of studies to explore the placement of the shapes and values.
  3. Assign the dark shapes the primary color, the lightest shapes white (tint), and the mid-tones a 50/50 mixture of the primary color and white.
  4. Prepare your workspace with the following:
    1. a paper suitable for acrylic paint
    2. paper palette with secondary colors
    3. brushes
    4. water
    5. paper towels
  5. From your studies, map the shapes on to the paper using an HB pencil or lighter.
  6. Begin painting using the color scheme you developed in #3 above.
  7. Stop often, step back and study your progress.

PROJECT BRIEF

For this project, you will mix colors to match the colors in a famous work of art and develop a relational color palette. The studio demos, discussions and exercises, along with chapter readings and quizzes have prepared you to begin this project.

Why do two colors, put next to each other, sing? Can we really explain this? No.

–Pablo Picasso

RESEARCH AND PREPARATION

  1. Your instructor will discuss relational color during studio and provide you with a handout to read/study on the topic of relational color.
  2. Follow this link to a collection of art by noted artists and study their use of color. Your instructor will guide you in this research.

PROJECT INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Select a work of art with colors that you want to copy. (Your instructor will help you print it on the large-format printer.)
  2. Establish your color palette.
    1. Identify five (5) dark colors within the painting.
    2. Identify five (5) light colors.
    3. These 10 colors are your palette. Make sure that the colors are in harmony with one another. Consider the levels of contrast between the colors (see handout). Do you have colors that come forward and colors that recede?
  3. Mix paints to match the colors you have selected and paint each color on a cardboard chip.
  4. Arrange your image and paint chips and attach to heavy-weight paper.
  5. Your instructor will provide all supplies.

STUDENT EXAMPLES

Student Solution

CRITIQUE

  • Present your compositions during formal critique. Use of design vocabulary is essential during critique.

IN ORDER TO RECEIVE YOUR GRADE

After critique, photograph your compositions and upload to this assignment in your learning management system (LMS). The instructor is available to help you (if you need it) in photographing and uploading your work. You can use the computer lab in Goodnow as well. If there is no critique, you will need to write an essay of at least 80 words in which you use the art/design vocabulary associated with this project.

Refer to the grading rubric with this assignment for the manner in which your project will be graded.

Artists

  • Romare Bearden
  • Kehinde Wiley
  • Andy Wharhol
  • Frida Kahlo
  • David Hockney
  • Helen Frankinthaler
  • Salvador Dali
  • Vassily Kandinsky
  • Paul Cézanne
  • Paul Gaugin
  • Jacque Louis David
  • Gustave Courbet
  • Edward Manet
  • Mary Cassatt

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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