A Color Study through Design

By Shaw, Annita | Arts & Activities, September 2006 | Go to article overview

A Color Study through Design


Shaw, Annita, Arts & Activities


Color. We live with it and expect it to be there. It makes our life safer, more exciting, more pleasant. But, where does it come from? How do we get so many colors?

We begin our study by observing the colors around the room. We look at everything: our clothing, plants, walls and so on. I then turn off the lights; the colors dull, maybe change completely. Why? We talk about the difference between light and pigment and our eyes' optical capability.

With the lights back on, we then look at the color wheel and find out how to use it like a road map, only this map is for color.

We begin with the primary colors and tempera paint. I ask for a student volunteer who would be willing to "wash" their hands with paint. I then put a dab of yellow in one hand and a smaller dab of blue in the other and ask the student rub his or her hands together.

Everyone is surprised as the volunteer's hands turn green. Even those who knew yellow + blue = green are amazed. Now is the perfect time to talk about tints: add a drop of white, rub together and see the "tint." We repeat with other students and other combinations, also adding black to create a "shade." This becomes a very meaningful experience that most will not forget, and we discuss the vocabulary of color: monochromatic, analogous, warm and cool and so on.

Since classes are a semester in length, I try to combine elements--in this instance, line and color. I find this more interesting and challenging for my students. The results are exciting for all of us.

Even a color study became a work of art and made a beautiful show-stopper wherever displayed--the mall, a hallway, in the classroom or in the cafeteria showcase.

Because of budget constraints, we use plastic-foam trays to put paint on and plastic cottage cheese and butter containers for water. We covered our tables with newspapers or magazine sheets when painting to make clean up easier.

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