Week 8 : Color Theory

Now that you’ve got a good grasp of color it’s time to dig in a bit deeper and start looking at some theory. If we’re talking about color theory there’s one person who is often cited as being the most important color theorist in moder history, and that’s Joseph Albers. Albers was a teacher who sought to formalize his studies into color into a series of simple exercises that would enable students to see just how complicated color can become.

For this assignment you will be making squares, and observing how color changes based upon what is surrounding that color. This is a very important concept to grasp and is the foundation of color theory. It’s often said that if you ask an artist what their favorite color is, they’ll reply “it depends on what color is next to it” since these things effect our perception so much.

For the following exercise we will be making four sets of color. Since these things are better shown rather than written about I would ask you to look at the images for further guidace.

  1. 4 colors from 3: to make the same color look different (2 small squares of the same color are placed against backgrounds of very different colors, making it look as though there are 4 colors when in fact there are only 3);
  2. 3 colors from 4: to make 2 colors look the same (2 small squares of different colors are placed against 2 different backgrounds carefully chosen to make the 2 small squares look identical, making it appear as though there are only 3 colors when in fact there are 4);
  3. simultaneous contrasts: to find the one color that is equally close to or equally distant from the 2 large backgrounds of complementary colors.
  4. Vibrating Colors. These are colors that are often compliments and exhibit high intensity. Use lightning bolt type marks to highlight these vibrations.

Once finished with this exercise you will take the remainder of the class to begin research on your final major project. Go to the library, talk with me, take notes, collect images, do whatever it is that you need to do to get focused on what it is that you want to create for your final project. You will need to come ready to class next time with an arsenal of images, notes, and research about your artist, their techniques and processes, and concepts .


Back to: Beginning Painting