Foundations of Color

Foundations of Color (2984)

Duke University Continuing Studies

Winter 2020 Semester

Instructor: Sterling Bowen, 919-389-8293,

Location: Judea Reform Congregation, room 8

Time: Mondays, 3:15-4:45, Jan 13 through Mar 23 (except Jan 20)


Class Description: Creating a specific color from scratch can be one of the biggest challenges and rewards of making art. This hands-on course will equip students with the foundational skills to see and replicate the colors they encounter in art and in the world by studying and practicing mixing paints. At the end of the course, students will be able to use color as a tool in work they create as well as experience a deepened appreciation in their encounters with work made by others. The course welcomes artists of all skill levels (lecture plus questions, active participation, viewing videos).


Class 1 (Jan 13)

Discussion: general (introductions, class expectations)

Lecture: History of color theory, color terms, introduction to Interaction of Color

Presentation Foundations of Color_OLLI- Class 1 lecture

Exercise: mixing/making grey scales with graphite and charcoal (goal- learning to see tones, make multiple tones that are equally distant in value)


Class 2 (Jan 27)

Lecture: Color names

Presentation Winter 2020- Foundations of Color_Class 2 (video part 1)

Discussion: Relativity of color, examples of interactions of color (video part 2)

Exercises: Mixing the primary colors; making a “neutral” primary (video part 3), creating 5 tones from 1 primary color (video part 4), color 2/3 color “wheels”- pick red to yellow, yellow to blue, or blue to red, starting with a neutral primary (goal- understanding of how to mix reds, yellows, blues)


Class 3 (Feb 3)

Lecture: Additive v/s subtractive color (video- The Truth About the Color Wheel)

Presentation Winter 2020-Foundations of Color_Class 3 (video part 1  … part 2part 3 )

Discussion: Compare greys (Interaction of Color plates XVII-3)

Exercises: mixing blacks, using complimentary colors to create tones and shades (2 scales with different greys, 6 tones each)


Class X (Thursday, Feb 13)  Field Trip to Nasher Museum to see Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations (meet in lobby at 3pm)

Questions to think about (when looking at art work- this document has the questions we discussed before the tour)


Class 4 (Feb 17) Transparency and color

Winter 2020- Foundations of Color_Class 4


Class 5 (Feb 24) Color intervals

Winter 2020-Foundations of Color_Class 5    Lecture video Part 1   |  Part 2


Class 6 (Mar 2) 4 Colors Make 3 Colors

Winter 2020- Foundations of Color_Class 6    Lecture video


Class 7 (Mar 9) Color and the emotional

Winter 2020- Foundations of Color_Class 7


Class 8 (Apr 1) Artists and the use of color

Artists and the Use of Color    Lecture video (1 hour 10 minutes)