Foundations of Color

Foundations of Color 

OLLI (Duke) Winter 2023 Semester

Instructor: Sterling Bowen, 919-389-8293,

Location: Judea Reform Congregation, Room 4

Time: Tuesdays 9-10:30, Jan 31 through Mar 28 (9 meetings)

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.

Class 1 (Jan 31)

Discussion: general (introductions, class expectations)

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

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 (Feb 7)

Lecture: Color names

Discussion: Relativity of color, examples of interactions of color

Exercises- mixing the primary colors (goal- understanding of how to mix reds, yellows, blues): making a “neutral” primary color; creating 5 tints from 1 primary color (using white); 2/3 color “wheels”- pick red to yellow, yellow to blue, or blue to red

Class 3 (Feb 14)

Video- The Truth About the Color Wheel

Lecture: Color and tone (presentation deck– pdf)

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

Exercises: mixing blacks, using complimentary colors to create tones and shades (2 scales, starting with a primary color; one using white, one with grey from a complimentary color- at least 6 tones each)

Class 4 (Feb 21) Transparency and color

Lecture: Transparency

Discussion: Compare greys (Interaction of Color plates X and XI series)

Exercises: mixing a secondary color, using white and complimentary colors to create tones and shades (reference color plate X-1)

Class 5 (Feb 28) Color intervals

Lecture/discussion: Albers color “intervals” exercises (Interaction of Color plates XIII series)

Exercise: mixing two tints of two primary colors (red and blue), use additional primary colors to create two more tones that move the primary tints in the opposite direction chromatically and tonally; reference color plate XIII (tonal relationships within each quadrant should be identical to other quadrants (check by using phone camera to remove all chroma)

Class 6 (Mar 7) 4 colors make 3 colors

Lecture/discussion: Albers color “2 different colors look alike” exercises (Interaction of Color plates VII series)

Exercise: Draw composition; pick 2 (near) compliments (one with significant white content); create intermediate color (not true grey) and lighten with yellow (apply this to smaller rectangle inside darker color); create a second tint of this intermediate color using white that appears, once applied inside smaller rectangle in adjacent, larger rectangle, to be the same color as the small rectangle in the darker rectangle; all paint application is consistent and homogenous!

Class 7 (Mar 14) Color and the emotional

Exercise: create 8 colors based on sense memories associated with intense emotions (see presentation deck for instructions)

Class 8 (Mar 21) Color from life

Exercise- setting up a pallet: chose an underpainting color based on an image from a magazine; select and recreate 6 colors from the image; using thin applications of 3 of these colors, “move” them (using yellow, red, or white) so that, when applied over the underpainting color, they appear to be one of the originally created 6 colors.

Class 9 (Mar 28) Artists and the use of color

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