Courses Color page 3


Students should be aware of how various artists or designers have used color in the past. Another consideration that is rarely touched upon, but it is pertinent today as design becomes increasingly international, and that is the relationship between color and culture. The symbolic associations with color change from culture to culture.

The principles employed in the color course are borrowed from Josef Albers color classes at Yale University during the 1950s. The basis for the color theories used by Albers reportedly came from the writings of Goethe on color. I believe that Knopf published an obscure small book on the color theories of Goethe sometime during the 1960s.


Full color pack

Spray mount or rubber cement

Scissors and exacto knife

Two ply or heavier bristol board


All color exercises and free-studies are done with cut or torn paper. All color work is done either with a mat or put onto a mat for presentation. The proportions of mat include the top, bottom, sides, and the size of the work to the mat, are part of the evaluation. Craft is critical.

The purpose for using cut and torn paper is that it allows students to work quickly, and to explore the effect of different colors, amounts and compositions with a minimum of effort and time. Students can focus on color without having to mix paints, wait for them to dry or learn how to use a brush. It is the process of trying different colors, varying the amounts, etc. that is of most value to students and to learning.

Students need to put work on the floor or wall, and to stand over or back from it and evaluate what they have done and determine changes. Without the process, there is small benefit for students in doing the exercises.


Exercise 1: Hue as Value
Each hue has an equivalent black to gray value. To illustrate, select six hues at random. Cut into swatches 3/4 x 3 inches and adhere them to bristol board. Run them through a color copier set for black and white. This should provide reasonable equivalents in black or gray values for each hue.

Arrange the black and gray values vertically into a progression with the darkest value at the top. The swatches should butt against one another. To the left of the gray scale, arrange the hues adjacent to their respective black or gray equivalent. The swatches of hues should butt against each other and also to the gray scale.

The result should be a vertical rectangle divided in half vertically and divided horizontally into six segments with hues on the left and their equivalent grays on the right. Craft in doing this exercise is very important.


Exercise 2: Boundaries >


Download PDF

















Student example of Exercise 1: Hue as Value

Site Index




. 1 2 3 4 5